The Giant and Longstanding Bickering Between the Neighbouring States of Somalia and Kenya About Maritime Boundary Has Come to an End

By Mohammed Hussein Mentalist
Article The Giant and Longstanding Bickering Between the Neighbouring States of Somalia and Kenya About Maritime Boundary Has Come to an End
OCT 17, 2021 LISTEN

The international court of Justice had eventually delivered its verdict about the maritime case between Somalia and Kenya the UN's top court handed Somalia the control of most of potentially oil and gas rich chunk of Indian Ocean.

On Tuesday after bitter legal onslaught with Kenya, which vehemently repudiated the ruling, Kenya gained merely a tiny slice of the disputed tract of the sea off the east African coast in the ruling by the international court of Justice (ICJ) Kenya's incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta responded rigorously saying his government rebuffs in the totality and does not recognize the findings of the decision and will not abide by in any case and the only viable option available is through negotiated settlement, he added. Kenya has the right to protect its territorial, maritime and airspace boundary.

With Kenya remonstrating to offer its green light and recognize the court's decision and it described biased, unfair, and non-neutral verdict intended to interiorized and deprive Kenya's maritime rights. Currently, all eyes will be on what Nairobi does next in one of the world's most turbulent regions.

Somalia's lame duck president urged Kenya '' To respect the international rule of law and maritime convention it had signed and ratified in 1983" following the verdict issued by the court based in the Hague. Fifteen-member panel of judges unanimously ruled there was "no concurred and officially demarcated maritime boundary" In force and drew a new border close to the one claimed by Somalia. Chief judge Joan Donoghue reading a summary of the verdict said the " court as this satisfied that the adjusted line achieves an equitable solution.

Somali's minister of planning and international cooperation Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame and his Kenyan counterpart had signed a Memorandum of understanding intended to settle the Maritime dispute, but the federal parliament of Somalia had strongly opposed and then revoked the MOU and then the federal government of Somalia under the tutelage of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud dragged Kenya to the court in 2014 after years of tussle and squabbling and last ditch attempt to settle the case ended in vain.

Several attempts and efforts were made to resolve the dispute over the 100,000 Square kilometer. (38,000, square miles) tract failed. The ICJ' s judgement is final and cannot be appealed but the tribunal was set up after the World War II to arbitrate, adjudicate and rule in both territorial and maritime dispute among UN States, has no means of enforcing its ruling. ICJ is sometimes called a toothless bulldog because it failed to enforce its earlier rulings, states can however fo to the UN security council if another country fails to abide by the ruling.


In a televised speech Somalia's lameduck president Mohamed Abdullaahi Mohamed who is popularly known as Farmajo said, Nairobi should see, observe, and comply with the ruling and it is binding decision and will strengthen the relationship of two countries.

"The verdict was a fair indication of the transparency of the international court of justice " said Farmajo adding that he had encountered political, diplomatic, security and economic pressure from the Kenyan leadership" but Kenyatta said that the ruling is tantamount to a zero-sum game, which will strain the murky and volatile relations between the two countries.

It will also reverse the social, political and economic gains and potentially aggravate the peace and security plight in the fragile Horn of Africa region. he added this ruling will only add fuel to the fire and reiterated Nairobi's support for a negotiated settlement instead.

At the epicenter of the Somali-Kenya maritime dispute was the direction that their joint maritime boundary should take from the point where their land frontier meets on the coast. Somalia insisted the boundary should follow the orientation of its land border and thus head out in a 200 nautical mile line towards the southeast. But Kenya said its boundary runs in a straight line due to the east. A delineation that would have given it a big triangular slice of the sea.

Nairobi says it has exercised sovereignty over the area since 1979 the contested sea-zone is widely believed to contain rich gas and oil deposits and also has an important fishing rights. Kenya had already offered an exploration permits to an Italian energy giant conglomerates EN! But Somalia is contesting the move and said it will have unprecedented and catastrophic repercussions.


Kenyan authorities had tried to face off the humiliating and ignominious defeat after the ICJ on Tuesday threw out Kenya's argument that Somalia had " acquiesced " to its claims by not protesting more strongly it also rebuffed the line Nairobi wanted to draw from the coast, saying it would have a "severe cut-off effect " for Somalia. But it adjusted Mogadishu's proposal slightly saying Kenya risked having its its own maritime rights sandwiched between Somalia to the North and Tanzania to the south.

Finally, the court dismissed all of Somalia's claims for monetary reparations over surveying and drilling by energy firms that Kenya had allowed. Kenya pull out of the hearing in the Somalia case in March, then just over two weeks ago said it would not accept the court's jurisdiction due to its "obvious and inherent bias". Legal and maritime law analysts Cecily Rose of Leiden University said Kenya had relied on " long shot" arguments. Perhaps Kenya's decision not to participate in the oral proceedings was partly in recognition of the fact that this was a losing battle. Rose told Modern Ghana.

Tuesday's verdict may further sour the diplomatic relations between the two countries after Kenya in 2019 recalled its ambassador and accused Somalia of selling off oil and gas blocks in the contested areas.

The court verdict is legally binding, and we must wait and see what the next reaction of Kenyan authorities will be.

Mohammed Hussein Mentalist.

Author, blogger, researcher and senior lecturer at Mogadishu university.

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