Kenya-Somalia maritime border case set for October

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

The ruling is expected to end the seven-year maritime case that Somalia filed at the ICJ in 2014.

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

Somalia claims its maritime boundary should run in the same direction as the southeasterly path of the country’s land border, while Kenya argues the border should take a 45-degree turn at the shoreline and run in a latitudinal line.

This gives it access to a larger share of the maritime area.

Kenya, however, withdrew from the ICJ case in March this year on account of procedural unfairness at the court, 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 Philippe Gautier, the Registrar at the ICJ, Kenya re-affirmed that it was not properly before the court following its acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry statement said on March 18.

“Kenya outlined that while it did not doubt the merits of its case, procedural unfairness had left doubt on whether substantive justice would be done.” 

Kenya further argued 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 EEZ and continental shelf should not be affected following 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, asking the ICJ to reject Kenya’s claim of established acquiescence and to determine a complete course of the maritime boundary between the two state 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.

Kenya made the latest bid to have Somalia withdraw the case from the ICJ in August this year during Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo’s maiden official visit to Somalia.

However, Somalia maintained the maritime dispute with Kenya would be decided by the ICJ.

In a statement after their bilateral meeting, Somalia PM Mohamed Roble said his government reaffirms that the decision on the maritime dispute is with the international court, and would wait for its verdict.

Kenya had, on July 19, asked the AU Commission to offer technical assistance regarding border issues with Somalia through a note verbale to the continental commission.

Edited by Kiilu Damaris, The Star

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