The International Court of Justice (ICJ) Tuesday drew a new maritime legal border between Somalia and Kenya in the Indian Ocean after a bitter legal battle between the two countries over boundaries involving areas potentially rich in oil and gas, it was announced.
The decision was viewed as a victory for Somalia, which was awarded most of the territorial waters under controversy, although Kenya kept a part of the 100,000 square-kilometre area.
The ICJ rejected Kenya’s claim, saying it had not consistently maintained it and while the ruling is legally binding, the ICJ has no enforcement powers. Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed urged Kenya to “respect the international rule of law”.
“It should instead see the decision of the court as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship of the two countries,” he added. Somalia filed the ICJ case over the countries’ maritime boundary in 2014.
But the ICJ rejected Somalia’s pursuit of reparations after the country alleged that some of Kenya’s maritime activities had violated its sovereignty.
“I thank Allah for … for the fruit of the long struggle made by the Somalis in preventing Kenya’s desire to claim ownership of part of Somalia’s sea,” Mohamed also said in a broadcast on his office’s Facebook page.
Kenya had said last week that it would not recognize the court’s judgement, because it had an “obvious and inherent bias”. The court awarded Somalia the bulk of the territory while adjusting the border slightly northward to address Kenya’s security and economic interests.
The ICJ rejected one of Kenya’s key arguments, that Somalia had previously agreed to a boundary, saying there was no proof to show that from the documents Kenyan lawyers supplied to the court, which also noted that it “cannot ignore the context of the civil war” in Somalia which has for years limited its government functions and found “no compelling evidence that Somalia has acquiesced” to Kenya’s claim of a maritime boundary.