Kenya refuses ICJ ruling on territorial dispute against Somalia

The International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Somalia about a long dispute with Kenya on their maritime boundaries, at the core of diplomatic tensions between the two neighbors. Kenya rejects the decision.

The maritime territory Somalia and Kenya dispute
In green, the maritime boundary Kenya claims, in blue the one Somalia wants | © ICJ

On October 12, the International Court of Justice published its decision about the dispute on maritime delimitation in the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Kenya, which was at the center of diplomatic tensions between them.

Somalia brought the case into court in 2014 after five years of failed discussions and 42 years of disagreement since Kenya’s presidential proclamation in 1979.

The case concerns an area of 100,000 square kilometers (38,000 square miles), potentially rich in oil and gas.

Somalia argued “unadjusted equidistance line through all maritime areas” while Kenya claimed the boundary, following a parallel of latitude, has already been agreed by Somalia.

And the ICJ ruled that there was no clear indication that Somalia accepted the maritime boundary. The judges also drew a new line separating the dispute maritime territory, closer to what Somalia has been claiming.

The ICJ drew an adjusted line defining boundaries between Somalia and Kenya, in favor of Somalia's claim
The ICJ drew an adjusted line defining boundaries between Somalia and Kenya, in favor of Somalia’s claim | © ICJ

The Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, welcomed “this historic victory“. In a statement from president Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya indicates it “rejects in totality and does not recognize the findings in the decision” of the International Court of Justice. The president added that “the Court had neither jurisdiction nor competence over the dispute“.

Kenya considers the judicial process as flawed with a “biased bench“. The 15 judges making the decision had 15 different nationalities. None of them came from Kenya; one was Somali.

Read more about Kenya

MARITIME DELIMITATION IN THE INDIAN OCEAN, International Court of Justice, October 2021, Free access The President’s Address to the Nation on the Ruling of the ICJ in the Case of the Maritime Dispute between Somalia and Kenya, Office of the President of Somalia, October 2021, Free accessStatement By H.E. Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya President website, October 2021, Free accessThe 15-judge bench that will determine Kenya-Somali case, The Standard, October 2021, Free access

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