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ICJ sides with Somalia in maritime border dispute with Kenya

President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]
President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta [Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency]

The UN's top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), has ruled mostly in Somalia's favour in its maritime boundary dispute with Kenya.

In a ruling at The Hague yesterday, the ICJ ruled that there was "no agreed maritime boundary" and drew a new border closer in appearance to the one previously proposed by Somalia.

The case, originally filed by Somalia in 2014, concerned a boundary of over more than 100,000 sq km (nearly 40,000 sq miles) in part of the Indian Ocean which is believed to have rich natural oil and gas reserves.

According to Judge Joan Donoghue, the revised maritime border "achieves an equitable solution". However, Kenya, which failed to prove there was an established sea boundary last week, said it would not recognise the Court's judgment over the "obvious and inherent bias" in the judicial process.

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The ICJ also denied Somalia's claim of reparations, following accusations that Kenya had violated its sovereignty over its maritime activities. Somalia severed diplomatic ties with Nairobi last year over allegations of interfering with its internal affairs. Relations were restored in May of this year, following mediation from Qatar.

Meron Elias, a Horn of Africa researcher with the International Crisis Group, told The Washington Post that the Court ruling will have little enforcement ability because Somalia has no functioning navy or military and the ICJ does not have enforcement mechanisms.

In a statement, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the ruling would "strain the relations between the two countries", while Somalia's President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, said in a broadcast on his office's Facebook page, "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 later called on Nairobi to "respect the international rule of law".

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AfricaICJInternational OrganisationsKenyaMiddle EastNewsQatarSomalia
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