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Kenya loses big as ICJ rules it should hand over part of disputed territory to Somalia

By , K24 Digital
On Tue, 12 Oct, 2021 17:58 | 3 mins read
PHOTO/COURTESY

Kenya has lost big in a 7-year battle with Somalia over a maritime border dispute after a ruling was made by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday, October 12.

The court’s president Judge Joan Donoghue (US), led a 15-member bench at the Peace Palace in the Hague in reading the judgement.

Donoghue said that it will be important that both countries respect the ruling that was made according to International laws.

“There is no indication that Somalia accepted Kenya’s claim to a boundary along a parallel of latitude,” ICJ Judges said in the ruling.

Kenya was claiming that its border should run 45 degrees from where the land meets the ocean but with the ruling, it has been handed a smaller portion of the part of the waters that it was claiming.

The 15 judges on the bench included; the President, Vice- President Kirill Gevorgian of Russian Federation, Peter Tomka of Slovakia, Judge Ronny Abraham of France, Judge Mohamed Bennouna in Morocco, Judge Antonio Augusto Cancado Trindade, Judge Abdulqaqi Ahmed Yusuf of Somalia, Judge Xue Hanqin of China and Judge Julia Sebutinde of Uganda.

Others included; Judge Dalveer Bhandari of India, Judge Patrick Lipton Robinson of Jamaica, Judge Nawaf Salam of Lebanon, Judge Iwasawa Yuji of Japan and Judge Georg Nolte of Germany.

ICJ partially agreed that Somalia had a right to the oil-rich region of the disputed area of the Indian Ocean but agreed that they will be handed an extra 20 nautical miles of the area that Kenya is currently controlling.

In its findings, the court said that it considers that the evidence on fisheries and marine scientific research activities also does not support Kenya’s claim.

In regards to oil concessions, the court said that it was aware that the parties had established offshore oils concessions.

The court noted that there existed differences between the two countries, stating that in their arguments, Somalia argued that there is no maritime boundary between them while Kenya argued that there is a maritime boundary dispute between them.

“The court regrets Kenya’s decision not to participate in the oral proceedings but nevertheless, the court had extensive information about Kenya’s views,” the ruling read in part.

While pulling out of the case and saying that it will not recognize the ruling, Kenya also stated the ruling would lead to insecurity in the region. The court however dismissed the claim.

In the ruling, the UN’s biggest court said that the security matter is not of a permanent nature.

“The court believes that the current security situation in Somalia is not of a permanent nature, therefore the court is not of the view that the current security situation justifies an adjustment of the provisional equidistant line,” the ruling further read.

This comes just hours after Somalia said that it was confident that it will win the case that it filed in the (ICJ) in 2014.

In his sentiments, Somalia’s Attorney General (AG) Suleiman Mohamed Mohamud, who is currently leading the Somali government delegation to the Hague, said that the victory would be a perfect gift to commemorate National Flag Day in Somalia.

“Twelve years ago today the Somali flag was hoisted. Also, today, October 12, we are proud to secure our maritime rights. It is a lasting victory and independence for the Somali community,” Mohamud said, adding that he was optimistic that Somalia will succeed.

Kenya last week said that it will not recognize the ruling that will be made by the Court through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Amb Kamau Macharia.

The withdrawal did not however affect the court’s decision as it could not be applied retroactively.

The dispute is seen as part of the reason the two East African neighbours have diplomatic fallout between them.

Kenya has been asking Somalia to have the matter be settled out of court a request that was vehemently opposed by Somalia.

In its argument, Somalia says that exploiting its natural resources is very critical to kickstarting its economic recovery plan.

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