Kenya And Somalia Clash Over Indian Ocean Boundary

The contested area by Kenya and Somalia

The Attorney General Professor Githu Muigai will today lead a high-powered delegation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, in The Netherlands to present Kenya’s submissions on the Indian Ocean boundary issue (Somalia vs. Kenya) Case.

The case arises from a claim by Somalia filed before the ICJ on 28th August 2014, requesting the Court to determine on the basis of international law the boundary dividing all the maritime areas between the two countries including the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles. Further, Somalia has requested the Court to determine the precise geographical coordinates of the boundary in the Indian Ocean.

The Republic of Kenya, on the other hand, contends that it has exercised uncontested jurisdiction over the disputed maritime areas since it first proclaimed its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under the Presidential Proclamation of 1979. Kenya considers that the maritime boundary should follow the ‘parallel of latitude’, which has been used as the boundary between herself and Somalia at least since 1924.

In the Memorandum of Understanding between Kenya and Somalia signed in Nairobi on April 7th, 2009, the Parties agreed to delimit the maritime boundary by negotiation, and not by recourse to the Court, and to conclude a maritime boundary agreement only after the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) has made recommendations to the Parties on their respective outer limits of the continental shelf.

The preliminary objection forms the core of the oral proceedings to be heard the entire week starting Monday 19th until Friday 23rd September 2016.

Kenya will present its case today and Wednesday while Somalia will have the opportunity to respond to the arguments on Tuesday and Friday.

In the case, Mogadishu is requesting the court to redraw the maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean based on an “equidistance line” which should continue along the line of the land border to the southeast.

Kenya, however, reiterated that it remains committed to friendly neighbourly relations and in the establishment of peace and security in Somalia and to the delimitation of the maritime boundary at the appropriate time in accordance with the agreed procedure.