Maritime border: UN court decides in border dispute in favor of Somalia

The sea in front of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Image: Reuters

Somalia was awarded a controversial, potentially very resource-rich area in the Indian Ocean. The judgment is binding, an appeal is not possible. Kenya immediately rejected the verdict

In the longstanding border conflict between Somalia and Kenya, the International Court of Justice has redefined the sea border between the two African states and thus awarded Somalia a controversial, potentially resource-rich area. The highest court of the United Nations upheld a large part of a lawsuit from Somalia in The Hague on Tuesday. The judgment is binding, an appeal is not possible.

Kenya immediately rejected the judgment and accused the court of exceeding its powers. President Uhuru Kenyatta said during a visit to New York, according to the Nation newspaper, that the ruling raised the question of sovereignty of states. International tribunals can only rule with the consent of the states. Kenya therefore called on the international community to create an environment for a negotiated solution. Kenya had previously announced that it would not recognize the judgment. In March, the East African country boycotted the hearings in The Hague. Kenya had also warned of the security implications in the region.

Potentially large oil and gas reserves

Somalia brought the case to court in 2014 and demanded a supreme court decision on the sea border. It was mainly about an area of ​​about 100,000 square kilometers in the Indian Ocean with possibly large oil and gas deposits.

Kenya had vehemently contradicted the neighboring country’s claims for a border correction. Nairobi stated that the sea border runs parallel to the latitude. Both countries have agreed on this. But Somalia denied this and wanted the border to be drawn southeast in an extended line to the national border. The judges complied with this.

Somalia had also called for damages as Kenya had already granted production licenses to foreign companies. But the UN court rejected these demands.

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