ICJ sets date for Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute ruling


The International Court of Justice will rule on the maritime case between Somalia and Kenya on October 12, 2021, Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid has said.

This is expected to end the seven-year maritime dispute that Somalia filled at the ICJ in 2014.

The dispute is over the ownership of more than 100,000 square kilometre of Indian Ocean waters.

Somalia argues its maritime boundary should run in the same direction as the southeasterly path of the country’s land border. In contrast, Kenya claims the border should take a roughly 45-degree turn at the shoreline and run in a latitudinal line. This gives Kenya access to a larger share of the maritime area.

Kenya, however, withdrew from the case in March this year on account of procedural unfairness at the ICJ, betrayal and external interference, among other reasons, according to the Foreign Affairs ministry.

This was after concerted efforts for the matter to be solved through negotiations collapsed.

While Kenya opts for negotiations, Somalia has supported the ICJ route.

“In a letter to Mr Philippe Gautier, the Registrar at the ICJ, Kenya re-affirmed that it was not properly before the court in accordance with its acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction. Kenya outlined that while it had no doubt about the merits of its case, procedural unfairness had left doubt on whether substantive justice would be done,” the Foreign Affairs ministry statement on March 18 said.

Kenya further argued that it decided not to be dragged to the court by Somalia merely because of the neighbour’s resurgent expansionist agenda.

“Kenya also noted that the composition of the membership of the bench conducting the case reinforced concerns of bias, citing the case of Somali Citizen, Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf, who sits on the ICJ and who has previously represented Somalia at the Third United Nations Conference on the law of the sea,” Kenya said.

Kenya accused judge Yusuf of saying delimitation of the EEEZ and continental shelf should not be effected in accordance to the principle of equidistance but rather by application of equitable principles.

“Any consideration of this equidistant claim sets a dangerous precedent as it will not only reward Somalia’s belligerent conduct but also has the potential of disturbing already established boundaries,” Kenya said.

Nairobi made the statement a day after Somalia rested its case at The Hague on Thursday, asking the ICJ to reject Kenya’s claim of established acquiescence and to determine complete course of the maritime boundary between the two states the countries.

Somalia also wanted the court to adjudge that Kenya violated international obligations and make full reparation to Somalia

Kenya, however, accused the ICJ of imposing its jurisdiction on it over the case and failing to appreciate the full extent of Kenya’s reservations in its Optional Clause Declaration under Article 36(2) of the ICJ Statute.

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