Long awaited Kenya, Somalia maritime dispute hearing begin next Monday at Hague
Somalia submited a complaint to ICJ on August 28, 2014, requesting that the Court to determine on the basis of international law the boundary dividing all the maritime area between Kenya and Somalia in the Indian Ocean,
Somalia has maintained the matter was a legal issue which is provided for in international law and that it would pursue its rights at the court.
Somalia has rubbished claims by Kenya that the maritime case it filed at the International Court of Justice lacked legal merit and that the court did not have the jurisdiction over it vowing to pursue it to its logical conclusion.
In a swift rejoinder to statements by Kenya’s Attorney General Githu Muigai, Somali Attorney General Ahmed Dahir in a statement to newsrooms this evening has accused Kenya of trying to persuade the court not to hear the case noting that the move was not in the best interest of the two countries.
“The Kenyan government’s interest is to maintain the untenable status quo and evade its responsibility to seek a peaceful settlement of this complex maritime dispute between both countries,” said Dahir.
In statements appearing in sections of the Kenyan media yesterday, Muigai said Somalia had failed to abide by the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2009 in Norway in which the two countries sought to settle the matter out of court. However the Somali Federal Parliament in the same year rejected the agreement making in invalid and in-actionable.
In its Preliminary Objections Wednesday, Kenya’s Attorney General Githu Muigai argued that the case falls outside the jurisdiction of the Court and is inadmissible since it is “contrary to Somalia’s international obligations under the Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) signed on 7 April 2009, under the good offices of the Norwegian Government.”
“Kenya’s contention is that Somalia’s case falls outside the jurisdiction of the Court and is inadmissible because it is contrary to Somalia’s international obligations,” said Muigai.
Dahir said the move by Kenya to file objections this week undermined its obligations to international law vowing to defend its position in the court to the end.
“The objections submitted by Kenya are clearly without merit and the Somali government is confident that the court will reject Kenya’s attempt to deny Justice,” said Dahir.
Muigai yesterday charged that the filing of the case at the ICJ showed Somalia’s lack of appreciation for the support it had extended over the last two decades and the current military intervention by Kenyan forces in Somalia.
But Somalia has maintained the matter was a legal issue which is provided for in international law and that it would pursue its rights at the court.
Somalia last year sought the intervention of the ICJ 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].” It also asked the court ‘to determine the precise geographical coordinates of the single maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean.’
Somalia on its part argues the maritime border drops along the line of the land border diagonally to the southeast but Kenya insists on a straight line to the east.
Dahir said Kenya and Somalia shared common cultural and historical ties which cannot be severed by disagreement.
“The Somali government is committed to continuing to working hard in close corperation with our brothers and sisters in Kenya to to address the issues confronting both countries and the region,” said Dahir.
Paul Reichler of Foley Hoag LLP, New York and Professor Allain Pellet, a French international lawyer are representing the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Prof PayamAkhavan (American), Professor Vaughan Lowe (British), Prof Alan Boyle (British), Prof Mathias Forteau (French), Karim Khan (British) and Amy Sanders (British) are representing the Republic of Kenya.