PM Salwai and Sogavare deposits ‘Mota Lava Treaty’ at UN Office

A historic day and time for the Republic of Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands, as both Prime Ministers of the two states, Honorable Charlot Salwai and Honorable Manasseh Sogavare deposited the ‘Mota Lava Treaty’ at the United Nations Headquarter in New York.

The deposition completes the treaty process of the Maritime Border Treaty between the Republic of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, signed on October 7, 2016 at Mota Lava Island in Vanuatu, has sealed the territorial boundaries between the two sovereign states.

Prior to the signing, the boundaries had been under negotiations for the past 33 years, however the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) regulates maritime territories; hence, there are cases where UNCLOS has fallen short from complexities resulting from overlapping maritime claims and cross-sections of delimited claims. Some such cases become hotspots for possible confrontation, such as the South China Sea issue.

The Republic of Vanuatu and Solomon Islands have been negotiating their maritime boundary for the past 33 years and the situation was complicated due to the propensity to define each party’s 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) under UNCLOS.

The far eastern islands in the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands and those in the Torba Province of Vanuatu’s northwest both have the right under UNCLOS to stretch their EEZs out for 200 nm.

The issue become intricate because the EEZs of both parties overlapped; that was the pressing issue.