Kenya has rejected “in totality” the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to favour Somalia in a years-long dispute over the two countries’ maritime border, adding that it is “profoundly concerned” over the decision and its implications on the region.
The Hague-based United Nations’ highest court on Tuesday drew a new border close to the one claimed by Somalia although Kenya kept a part of the 100,000 square-kilometre (39,000 square-mile) area.
In a statement by Kenya’s Presidency published on Wednesday, it stated that “The decision was clearly erroneous,” adding that the verdict “embodies a perpetuation of the ICJ’s jurisdictional overreach and raises a fundamental question on the respect of the sovereignty and consent of States to international judicial processes”.
The minister of Information, culture and tourism Osman Dubbe had congratulated the Somali people on Tuesday for having “succeeded in capturing our seas”. “This success did not come easily but through struggle and sacrifice,” he added on Twitter
The 14-judge panel of the international court rejected an argument by Somalia that Kenya had violated its sovereignty by operating in its territorial waters. It had also asked for compensation from Kenya on this matter.
The Hague also said that there was no proof to backs Kenya’s claim that Somalia had previously agreed to its claimed border.
The court’s rulings are binding, though the court has no enforcement powers and countries have been known to ignore its verdicts.
The dispute between Somalia and Kenya stems from a disagreement over which direction their border extends into the Indian Ocean.
While Somalia says the boundary should run in the same direction as the southeasterly path of its land border, Kenya argues the border should take roughly a 45-degree turn at the shoreline and run in a latitudinal line.
Such a move will give Kenya access to a larger share of the maritime area.
Apart from fishing, the disputed area is thought to be rich in oil and gas, with both countries accusing each other of auctioning off blocks before the ruling by the court.
According to reports “the court has already said Kenya does not have any legal grounds to reject this judgement because it signed up to this court’s authority in the 1960s and can’t retroactively renege on that”.
“The question now is will Kenya accept this ruling. If it does not, it puts Somalia in a stronger position to seek support from the UN to seek diplomatic support in enforcing or obliging Kenya to uphold this ruling,” he said.
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