THE HAGUE: The UN’s top court handed Somalia control of most of a potentially oil and gas-rich chunk of the Indian Ocean on Tuesday (Oct 12) after a bitter legal battle with Kenya.
In a blow to Nairobi, Kenya got only a small slice of the disputed tract of sea off the East African coast in the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
But with Kenya refusing to recognise the “biased” court’s authority, all eyes will be on what Nairobi does next in one of the world’s most troubled regions.
Somalia urged Kenya to “respect the international rule of law” following the verdict by the court based in The Hague.
Judges unanimously ruled there was “no agreed maritime boundary” in force and drew a new border close to the one claimed by Somalia.
Chief judge Joan Donoghue, reading a summary of the judgment, said the “court is thus satisfied that the adjusted line … achieves an equitable solution.”
Somalia had dragged Kenya to the court in 2014 after years of efforts to resolve a dispute over the 100,000 square-kilometre tract failed.
The ICJ’s judgment is final and cannot be appealed, but the court, set up after World War II to rule in disputes between UN states, has no means of enforcing its rulings.
States can however go to the UN Security Council if another country fails to obey a ruling.
‘PRESSURE BY KENYAN LEADERSHIP’
In a televised speech, Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is widely known as Farmajo, said Nairobi should see the ruling as an “opportunity to strengthen the relationship of the two countries”.
“The verdict was a fair indication of the transparency of the International Court of Justice,” said Farmajo, adding that he had faced “political, diplomatic, security and economic pressure by the Kenyan leadership”.
There was no immediate reaction from Kenya.
At the heart of the Somalia-Kenya dispute was the direction that their joint maritime boundary should take from the point where their land frontiers meet on the coast.
Somalia insisted the boundary should follow the orientation of its land border and thus head out in a 200 nautical-mile line towards the southeast.
But Kenya said its boundary runs in a straight line due east – a delineation that would have given it a big triangular slice of the sea.