The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will in mid-September commence public hearings in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya) with the focus solely on the preliminary objections raised by Kenya on 7 October 2015.
Kenya while responding to an Application filed by the Federal Republic of Somalia on 28 August 2014 with regard to a dispute concerning the delimitation of maritime spaces claimed by both States in the Indian Ocean raised certain preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the Court and to the admissibility of the Application.
In accordance with Article 79, paragraph 5, of the Rules of Court, the proceedings on the merits have been suspended. By an Order of 9 October 2015, the Court fixed 5 February 2016 as the time-limit within which the Federal Republic of Somalia might present a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by the Republic of Kenya.
In its Application, Somalia contends that both States “disagree about the location of the maritime boundary in the area where their maritime entitlements overlap”, and asserts that “diplomatic negotiations, in which their respective views have been fully exchanged, have failed to resolve this disagreement”.
In consequence, Somalia requests the Court “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”.
Somalia further asks the Court to determine the precise geographical co-ordinates of the single maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean.
Somalia further maintains that “the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 36, paragraph 2, of its Statute is underscored by Article 282 of UNCLOS [the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea]”, both the Parties having ratified that Convention in 1989.
By an Order of 16 October 2014, the President of the International Court of Justice fixed 13 July 2015 and 27 May 2016 as the respective time-limits for the filing of a Memorial by Somalia and a Counter-Memorial by Kenya. The Memorial of Somalia was filed within the time-limit thus fixed.
Despite it being a public hearing the limited number of seats available in the Great Hall of Justice most of the space is expected to be taken by representatives of the States parties to the case, and to members of the diplomatic corps with members of the public receiving limited space.