Bangladesh has officially asked for arbitration under the United Nations Convention on Law of the Seas for its maritime boundary dispute with India and Myanmar.
"We have decided to go for arbitration as the issue was not resolved through bilateral discussion with the two neighbours in the last 35 years," Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told reporters in Dhaka.
The bone of contention are three hydrocarbon rich blocks in the Bay of Bengal, where India and Myanmar had reportedly sent notices to multinational companies not to explore those areas. US-based company ConocoPhillips and Irish company Tullow had been leased out those blocks by the Bangladesh government.
"With a view to preserving our national wealth and sovereign rights in the Bay of Bengal, the government has decided to submit the maritime boundary dispute to compulsory arbitration under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Mirajul Quayes said in a statement ON Thursday.
The foreign office summoned the high commissioner of India and ambassador of Myanmar, where they were handed the notification and statement of claim initiating arbitration before a tribunal, which has to be constituted as per the convention.
The statement by the foreign secretary said that the three countries are under obligation to accept the final award of this tribunal.
"This will allow us to once and for all settle this dispute with our neighbours, to ensure that our sovereign rights to the natural resources in the sea are fully respected, and to move forward to an era of prosperity as we exploit our national wealth for the good of all the people of Bangladesh," said Quayes.
He also stressed that this decision was not intended to detract from friendly relations, but was in keeping with obligations under the charter of the United Nations to seek a solution to dispute by peaceful means.
"We remain committed to the on-going negotiations with our neighbours and still hope that we would arrive at an agreement that is fair and safeguard our sovereign rights," said Bangladesh's top diplomat.