The boundary dispute between Aimeliik State and Koror State has been resolved in favor of Aimeliik State and in doing so confirmed the ownership of Ngerchebal island to be the property of Aimeliik State.
Court judgement issued this week ruled that the common boundary line separating Koror and Aimeliik “is determined from east to west” and from point at Omebail lagoon known as Bsachelimeliik (in accordance with Aimeliik exhibit), south of Ngerchebal islets to Oidesengong, a point known as Ebelbad (according to Aimeliik exhibit).
Both State charters or municipal charters, and in the case of Koror, it’s the amended charter, are not in conflict according to the court. Both charters state the boundary line to be from Bsachelimeliik, south of Ngerchebal islet to Odesengong, in the case of Koror, from Oidesengong south of Ngerchebal islet to Bsachelimeliik.
Despite similar languages, the exact location of Oidesengong was identified differently by each State. During the trial, the court tried to determine, based on evidence and witness testimonies, the exact location of Oidesengong.
According to the court ruling, the accounts of Aimeliik witnesses were more knowledgeable and credible and the evidences provided consistent with Aimeliik charter. The court also referred to the transmittal during the Trust Territory period from High Commission to Palau’s District Administrator specifying that the Aimeliik-Koror boundary dispute was resolved with Koror amending its original charter, conceding to the geographic boundaries depicted by Aimeliik’s charter.
Around 2003, a dispute arose over the ownership of Ngerchebal islets. Number of attempts by Koror and Aimeliik to resolve their differences without going to litigation failed. The dispute over ownership of Ngerchebal islet and boundary case finally went to trial in March of this year.
The boundary dispute has had an impact. Koror’s current map based on interpretation of its boundary line incorporates Ngerchebal islets north to a point in what Aimeliik considers its northern reef. This is also demarcated as part of the UNESCO Southern Lagoon Heritage Site resulting in the rejection of Ngerchebal Conservation Area and Aimeliik Reef Sanctuary by PAN Office as parts of the Aimeliik Protected Area Networks.
It is unclear what the impact of this ruling will have on Koror State’s UNESCO Heritage Site designation, if any.

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1 Comment

  1. Excellent!! Congratulations Aimeliik! This are some of the land ownership issues that could be better mitigated if traditional knowledge holders with their understanding of boundaries depicted in oral traditions are engaged.

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