The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will on 12 October, 2021, deliver its Judgment in the maritime boundary dispute between Somalia and Kenya, after years of delays in a case that has strained the neighbours’ diplomatic relations.
“A public sitting of the Court will take place at 3 p.m. at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which the President of the ICJ, Judge Joan E. Donoghue, will read out the Court’s decision,” the ICJ said in a statement this weekend.
“In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, only Members of the Court and representatives of the Parties will be present in the Great Hall of Justice,” the statement read, adding, “Members of the diplomatic corps, the media and public will be able to follow the reading through a live webcast on the Court’s website, as well as on UN Web TV.”
Kenya and Somalia have a longstanding unresolved maritime boundary dispute that officially started in 2014.
Somalia sued Kenya at the International Court of Justice for unlawful operations in its maritime territory along the Indian Ocean.
Kenya claims the border should take a roughly 45-degree turn at the shoreline and run in a latitudinal line. This gives Kenya access to a larger share of the maritime area.
Apart from fishing, the disputed area – about 100,000 square kilometres – is thought to be rich in oil and gas, with both countries accusing each other of auctioning off blocks before a ruling by the court.
The case has been pending the court’s resolution since 2014 due to disagreements among both parties of ICJ’s jurisdiction. Kenya had also requested for more time as the map for the disputed area had disappeared.
The two neighbours’ relationship further deteriorated over the past few years, mainly over Somalia’s Jubbaland state, which borders Kenya.
Jubbaland is a crucial security partner to Kenya in the battle against al-Shabaab.
Kenya’s red-carpet reception of the self-declared Somaliland’s president in December 2020 added to Somalia’s grievance with Kenya.
As a result, Somalia temporarily severed diplomatic ties with Kenya, accusing Nairobi of interfering in her internal affairs.