Sunday, September 8, 2013 – 16:44
Majuro, Marshall Islands
The Republic of Kiribati and the United States have signed a boundary treaty delimiting the waters between their two countries.
The Maritime Boundary Delimitation Agreement was signed on behalf of the United States by Ambassador Frankie A. Reed and for the Republic of Kiribati, by President Anote Tong on Friday September 6, 2013, during the Pacific Islands Forum gathering in Majuro, Marshall Islands.
Ambassador Reed said, “This maritime boundary treaty with Kiribati further highlights that the U.S. is a Pacific nation. We look forward to deepening our already strong relationship with Kiribati here at the Forum and in November, during the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa.”
She said that the negotiations leading up to this important moment were collaborative and extremely cordial.
President Tong said that the agreement would enhance Kiribati’s management and governance over its ocean resources.
He said it signified “the vital importance of clearly establishing the national limits of jurisdictions under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
President Tong noted the assistance of SOPAC, Forum Fisheries Agencies, Geoscience of Australia, the Australian Attorney General’s office, the University of Sydney, UNEP Arendal and Commonwealth Secretariat, with funding from AUSAID.
It represents the first treaty to delimit a maritime boundary that the United States has signed since 2000.
Using three separate boundary lines, the treaty will divide the maritime space between the U.S. islands of Palmyra Atoll, Kingman Reef, Jarvis Island and Baker Island and the Kiribati Line and Phoenix island groups. The treaty, with appropriate technical adjustments, formalizes boundaries that had been informally adhered to by the two countries previously on the basis of the principle of equidistance, such that the lines are equal in distance from each country. The three boundaries, taken together, approximate 1,260 nautical miles in length and form the second longest among all U.S. maritime boundaries.
The treaty will enter into force upon ratification by both countries. For the United States, ratification is subject to the advice and consent of the United States Senate.