Resolving the Indo-Bangladesh Maritime Dispute
Piyush Singh and Pranay Kotasthane, the Takshashila Institution
This discussion document investigates the Indo-Bangladesh maritime dispute and presents policy options for the Indian government. Indo-Bangladesh relations have been consistently hit by several contentious issues. One of these challenges is the longstanding maritime dispute over territorial waters and exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in the Bay of Bengal. This dispute was eventually taken to an international tribunal by Bangladesh in 2009 and the verdict is expected to be delivered in a few weeks.
While many states go to international tribunes and courts to resolve bilateral disputes, they ultimately conclude in bilateral negotiations. The Indian government can incentivise its neighbours to resolve outstanding issues bilaterally than through costly international adjudication.
India should concede no part whatsoever of the territorial waters because this area is essential for the livelihoods of its 300 million citizens living in States dependent on the Bay of Bengal. The international tribunal could adjudicate on the EEZ dispute by recommending either the equidistant or equitable principle to demarcate the EEZs. While the equidistant principle is in favour of India, the Indian government has a legitimate case for a favourable position even under the equitable principle. India can also propose joint development and exploration in the EEZ with Bangladesh.
This discussion document can be cited as: Piyush Singh and Pranay Kotasthane, “Resolving the Indo-Bangladesh Maritime Dispute”, Takshashila Discussion Document, 2014-01. (2014) www.takshashila.org.in/1534524506254.