Kenya Moves to Pull Out of Somalia Border Dispute Case

In a March 11 letter expressing Kenya’s decision not to participate in today’s hearings, the government cited judges’ disregard of all its applications– including the recent postponement of proceedings as Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted preparations by its newly appointed legal team and the shortcomings of presenting its complex case virtually.
Somalia’s newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo (L) listens to Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta during his inauguration ceremony in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

The Kenyan government will Monday inform the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of its withdrawal from the case on boundary dispute with Somalia citing bias, the next action being a protest to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Kenya has asked the court to allow Attorney General Kihara Kariuki a 30-minute address to express its displeasure with the court’s conduct before public hearings in the Indian Ocean boundary dispute between the neighbouring countries begin today.

Kenya-Somalia with overlapping maritime boundaries Credit: East Africa Monitor

In a dramatic escalation of Kenya’s relations with the ICJ, the government has vowed “complete divorce” with The Hague-based court if its complaints are not addressed today.

The potential maritime entitlements of Somalia and Kenya overlap, including in the area beyond 200 nautical miles. Kenya and Somalia disagree over the location of the maritime boundary in the area where their maritime entitlements overlap.

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In a March 11 letter expressing Kenya’s decision not to participate in today’s hearings, the government cited judges’ disregard of all its applications– including the recent postponement of proceedings as Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted preparations by its newly appointed legal team and the shortcomings of presenting its complex case virtually.

Kenya insists that virtual proceedings favour Somalia. It says Somalia’s case is not reliant on complex demonstrations and that Kenya has more than four critical members, above the number each party is allowed into the courtroom, who are all in the age bracket at greater risk of Covid-19 therefore unable to travel to The Hague.

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The case concerning maritime demarcation in the Indian Ocean will open at 3pm at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the court.

Kenya-Somalia disputed areas Credit: Joe Ngari

Kenya lost its quest to have proceedings of the long-running disagreement postponed. The court directed the public hearings run from Monday to Wednesday, March 24. The hearings are scheduled as follows: 

First round of oral argument

Monday 15 March: 3pm-6pm (Somalia)

Tuesday 16 March: 3 pm-4.30pm (Somalia)

Thursday 18 March: 3pm-6pm (Kenya)

Friday 19 March: 3pm-4.30pm (Kenya)

Second round of oral argument

Monday 22 March: 3pm-6pm (Somalia)


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