UN Court to hear Kenya-Somalia sea border dispute

UN Court to hear Kenya-Somalia sea border dispute

Sept 20, 2016: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has begun to hear a maritime border case between Kenya and Somalia to define the ownership of an area with oil and gas potential.

The ICJ will hold hearings up to Friday to consider submissions on the case that was filed by Somalia in August 2014 requesting the court to delimit the maritime boundary. Somalia wants the border to continue along the line of the land border, to the southeast diagonally and says a horizontal border would be unfair. On the other hand, Kenyawants the sea border to go in a straight line east, a boundary that has existed since 1924. "Kenya objects to the court hearing the case, which it considers to have been instituted in violation of a 2009 agreement between Kenya and Somalia on the subject," the government said in a statement. "In the Memorandum of Understanding between Kenya and Somalia concluded in Nairobi on April 7th, 2009, the parties agreed to delimit the maritime boundary by negotiation and not by recourse to the court, and to finalise an agreement only after the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has established the outer limits of that maritime boundary." Kenya will be represented by Attorney-General GithuMuigai and a team of international lawyers.

The area, which has potential reserves of oil and gas, stretches for more than 100,000 square kilometres.

Should the case be determined in Somalia's favour, Kenya will be left with a small triangle in the Indian Ocean for mineral rights, losing a large section that holds hydrocarbon potential.

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