- The border dispute between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea is at the brink of being resolved, with both countries making "substantial progress" towards referring the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
After two days of meetings at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, representatives of the neighbouring countries issued a joint statement, announcing to have worked on key documents for a planned joint submission to the main judicial organ of the UN entrusted with adjudication of the disputed boundary.
In 2003, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon were involved in a maritime dispute over the ownership of the oil-rich island.
Until the dispute is resolved, the two Central African states have agreed to jointly exploit the area. The two sides are expected to meet in New York again in September to finalise the documents being submitted to the ICJ.
As part of the UN's efforts to end the dispute, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month opened a high-level meeting on the launching of the next phase of the mediation process to resolve the border dispute. He also promised to appoint without delay a Special Adviser and Mediator to assist the process.
Mr. Ban said the presence of two senior delegations from the two countries "underscores the commitment of your two neighbouring states to pursue peacefully the settlement of the dispute through UN mediation."
The UN chief said this "shared determination" to see peace prevail was a credit to not only Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, but the entire Central African sub-region, which was why he assured both sides of UN's support and his personal engagement to assist them succeed in the process.
Mr. Ban was impressed with the assurances made by both Presidents of Gabon and Equaotiral Guinea, Omar Bongo Odimba and Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbassago, to a UN mission in April, expressing commitment to reach a solution either through negotiated settlement or by adjudication by the ICJ.
The world body has been mediating efforts to bring sanity between the two countries since 2003.
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