Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 06/2012

Bay of Bengal: ITLOS' first ruling in favour of Bangladesh

Jalila Abdul Jalil

May 2011

Maritime Institute of Malaysia


Wednesday, 14th March 2012, marked an important date when the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) delivered its judgment on a maritime boundary delimitation dispute between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal. The ruling, by a vote of 21 to 1, awarded Bangladesh territorial and full 200 nautical miles (nm) economic rights as well as a substantial share of the outer continental shelf beyond 200 nm. The Tribunal also awarded a full 12 nm territorial sea around St. Martin’s Island to Bangladesh. The conclusion of the dispute now opens up opportunities for exploration and exploitation of petroleum and natural gas in the bay.