After decades of trying to put off the inevitable, the two traditional siblings, Koror State and Aimeliik State are now going to court to resolve the ownership of Ngerchebal islet and in doing so address the conflicting interpretations of the ocean boundary between Koror and Aimeliik.
In 1958 both States drafted their own State charters. Shortly after the charters were drawn, overlapping discrepancy was noted in Koror State charter and Koror State Municipal Council passed a municipal ordinance re-aligning their boundary in parallel to Aimeliik charter.
According to Aimeliik charter, the boundary runs from a point at Bsachelimeliik, south of Ngerchebal islet to the reef of Oidesengong. Koror State Charter as amended by its ordinance runs from reef of Oidesengong to Ngcheludelkeldeu. Ngcheludelkeldeu and Bsechelimeliik are two patch reefs on both sides of Ngermecheuich channel on Omebail lagoon.
On paper, the languages of the charters don’t seem to conflict but in actual demarcation, the challenge arose as both sides have different ideas of where Oidesengong reef is located.
The trial which started yesterday and continuing on today will seek to determine where Oidesengong reef is and the exact point on this stretch of a reef that can serve as marker of each State’s boundary line.
Resource use and management by each of the States is necessitating the resolution of boundary issues that were otherwise nearly fluid under the traditional system. Koror State’s UNESCO World Heritage map includes Ngerchebal islet and nearly all of the reefs claimed by Aimeliik State. (L.N. Reklai)