Kenya and Somalia await key sea border ruling

Kenya is set to disregard the judgement of The International Court of Justice on the maritime border dispute between Kenya and Somalia, due today at 13:00 GMT.

The two countries are both claiming a 62,000 sq miles (160,000 sq km) in the Indian Ocean thought to be rich in oil and gas.

Kenya’s border currently runs horizontally into the Indian Ocean, and that is how Nairobi wants it to stay. But Somalia insists its southern boundary should run south-east as an extension of the land border.

Kenya first established this maritime boundary along the parallel of latitude by presidential proclamation in 1979.

In 2009, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding, certified by the United Nations, to negotiate their boundaries.

In 2014, Somalia decided to settle the matter at the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

In its application, Somalia said diplomatic negotiation had failed and it was now asking the court to “determine the precise geographical co-ordinates of the single maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean”.

But that is not all. Somalia also wants the ICJ to declare that “Kenya… has violated its international obligations to respect the sovereignty, and sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Somalia, and is responsible under international law to make full reparation to Somalia”.

A year later, Kenya filed an objection to the court case, arguing that the memorandum of understanding was binding.

Kenya also questioned the jurisdiction and fairness of the courts and seek postponements because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The court eventually rejected those arguments and ordered a hearing this year. Kenya decided to pull out of the case, citing procedural unfairness and questioning whether justice would be done.

Nevertheless, the judgement is set to go ahead.

Last Friday, Kenya said withdrew its membership from the ICJ, and declared it would not recognise Tuesday’s judgement.

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