ICJ backs Somalia in sea dispute with Kenya

The International Court of Justice on Tuesday awarded Somalia control of most of a potentially oil- and a gas-rich chunk of the Indian Ocean after a legal battle with Kenya over their sea border.

The ICJ ruled there was “no agreed maritime boundary” and drew a new border close to the one claimed by Somalia, although Kenya kept a part of the 100,000 square-kilometre (38,000-square-mile) area, chief judge Joan Donoghue said.

Ten judges against four agreed that from the end of the boundary in the territorial sea (Point A), the single maritime boundary delimiting the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf up to 200 nautical miles between Somalia and Kenya.

Nine judges against five agreed that from Point B, the maritime boundary delimiting the continental shelf continues along the same geodetic line until it reaches the outer limits of the continental shelf or the area where the rights of third States may be affected.

The court unanimously rejected the claim made by Somalia in its final submission concerning the allegation that Kenya, by its conduct in the disputed area, had violated its international obligations.

In 2014, Somalia decided to settle the matter at the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

In its application, Somalia said diplomatic negotiation had failed and it was now asking the court to “determine the precise geographical coordinates of the single maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean”.

The court based at The Hague noted that it “cannot ignore the context of the civil war” that destabilized Somalia for years and limited its government functions. It also found “no compelling evidence that Somalia has acquiesced” to Kenya’s claim of a maritime boundary along a parallel line of latitude.