Hearings begin in UN-backed tribunal over disputed area in Sudan

A United Nations-supported international court in The Hague has begun hearings to mediate a settlement over a disputed town straddling northern and southern Sudan.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) started deliberations over the demarcation of Abyei, which is central to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan, over the weekend.

Boundary markings in the area of Abyei, which lies in an oil-rich area, are contested by the Government and the Sudan People`s Liberation Movement (SPLM), The UN News Centre notes.

The hearing will be conducted under the Court`s optional rules for “Arbitrating Disputes between Two Parties of Which Only One is a State.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed in his latest report to the Security Council on Sudan in October 2008 that “demarcation of the border is a critical benchmark with implications for almost all other benchmarks under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.”