Judge Mensah, who was Ghana’s first High Commissioner to South Africa when Nelson Mandela became president, was an authority on maritime disputes.
During his years as a judge and arbitrator, he showed the wisdom of Solomon settling disputes where many others would have resigned themselves to endless argument.
He was the president of a five-member tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration that ruled on the case filed by the Philippines against China on the disputed territories in the South China Sea. More recently, in 2017, he was a Judge ad hoc on the dispute concerning the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Philippe Sands, in his obituary of Judge Mensah for the Guardian in the United Kingdom, said anyone who came to know the judge sensed his special qualities – intelligence, dignity and “gentle humanity”.
“With a superbly mischievous twinkle in his eyes, he had no interest in baubles and honours. Much more fun to sneak off to an Arsenal game, or eat with family and friends, or just talk about the state of the world,” Sands wrote.
Judge Mensah was the former Assistant Secretary-General at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the United Nations agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.
In 1996 he was elected as the first President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and continued to serve as an ITLOS Judge from 1999 to 2005.
The judge, who was born in Kumasi in Ghana in 1932, died on April 7 at his home in London after a period of illness. He is survived by his wife, Akosua, children, grandchildren and his great-grandson.
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