Somalia, Kenya Maritime Boundary Dispute Continues at the ICJ

Somalia has until the 5 February 2016 within which it may present a written statement of its observations and submissions on the preliminary objections raised by the Republic of Kenya on 7 October 2015 in the case concerning Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya).

This follows an Order of 9 October 2015, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations after Kenya on 7 October 2015 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,” Kenya had argued.

The objections were in respect to an application filed by Somalia on 28th August 2014 following a boundary dispute in the Indian ocean with its neighbor Kenya where the horn of Africa state requested 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 had also asked the court to determine the precise geographical co-ordinates of the single maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean noting that diplomatic negotiations had failed despite Kenya on record saying that the two parties had come to an agreement to settle maritime border issues outside the ICJ.

In contention are exploration blocks L5, L21, L22, L23, L24 and L26 which fall in a disputed triangle stretching more than 100,000 a sq kilometers (approx. 40,000 sq miles) of which Kenya has awarded exploration contracts to various international companies among them Eni, Andarko and Total.

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.

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