Somalia and Kenya Maritime Dispute

Somalia is gearing up to save its inviolable maritime territorial sovereignty from Kenya, which is claiming to own a large part of Somalia’s sea, and court hearings between the two countries is starting tomorrow, March 15, 2021, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in The Hague, Netherlands.

Kenya has claimed the ownership of an area within Somalia’s Indian Ocean. So, when the claim surfaced, Somalia filed a complaint for adjudication in 2014. The row between the two countries is over which direction the two countries’ border extends into the Indian Ocean. And the dispute over the issue has been escalating ever since. “Somalia argues that the maritime boundary should continue on in the same direction as the land border’s southeasterly path. While Kenya insists that the border should take a roughly 45-degree turn at the shoreline and run in a latitudinal line.”

Three adjudicating hearings had been already postponed due to Kenya’s request and Covid-19 related issues. Again, Kenya requested a forth postponement, but Somalia rejected the request and demanded the hearings happen on its scheduled date.

A Somali delegation led by Deputy Prime Minster Mahdi Mohamed Guled  is in The Hague to attend the hearings, but Kenya announced that it will not attend the court hearings. In a letter wired to the court on Thursday, Kenyan prosecutor general Kihara Kariuki stated that Kenya “shall not be participating in the court hearings in the case” that is scheduled for Monday.

Prior to this decision, Kenya said that some evidence in the case had mysteriously vanished and asked for another delay; however, Somalia defied the demand and is attending the hearings tomorrow. The two courtiers’ diplomatic relationship has been in shambles lately.