International Court of Justice to determine jurisdiction of Court in Kenya-Somalia maritime boundary dispute
(1 June 2016)
The ICJ will hold a hearing to address the preliminary objections raised by Kenya regarding the Court’s jurisdiction to hear the maritime border dispute between Kenya and Somalia. The hearings will take place at The Hague from the 19th to the 23rd of September.
Somalia filed a complaint with the ICJ in August 2014, asserting that Kenya wrongly claims a triangle of water of more than 100 000 square kilometres. Somalia told the Court that diplomatic negotiations "have failed to resolve this disagreement."
On October 2015 Kenya raised "preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the Court and to the admissibility of the application." The proceedings to adjudicate the boundary were thus suspended. Kenya’s objections will be addressed at the hearings in September.
Somalia holds that the maritime border should continue along the line of the land border, to the southeast, whilst Kenya maintains that the sea border should go in a straight line east, which would give it more sea territory.
Potentially lucrative oil and gas reserves are behind the dispute. Despite the legal uncertainty, Nairobi has already awarded exploration contracts to international firms.
Somalia asked the Court in 2014 "to determine, on the basis of international law, the complete course of the single maritime boundary dividing all the maritime areas appertaining to Somalia and to Kenya in the Indian Ocean, including the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles."