Somalia, which has mainland Africa’s longest coastline, plans to pursue its case in a maritime dispute with Kenya at the International Court of Justice on Monday, Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Maareeye said.
Somalia is trying to capitalize on its natural resources as it seeks to rebuild an economy decimated by almost 25 years of clan warfare and an Islamist militant insurgency. The government’s plan to develop the fishing industry and explore the oil and gas potential off the country’s more than 3,000-kilometer (1,864-mile) shoreline has been held back by a dispute with Kenya over the maritime boundary separating the neighboring countries.
On Monday, July 13, Somalia will formally submit its case to the International Court of Justice. On July 11, 2015, Dr. Axmed Cali Daahir, the Attorney-General of the Federal Republic of Somalia, arrived The Hague. He and the lawyers representing Somalia will submit the full case to the ICJ.
“The issue of the Kenyan government violations against our territorial waters has continued for a long time, so it’s the right time to end its fake claim in court,” Maareeye told reporters on Wednesday in the capital, Mogadishu. Out-of-court negotiations have failed to come up with a solution, he said. A group of international lawyers representing the Somali government will present a 150-page court filing at the ICJ on July 13, which Kenya will later respond to, said Maareeye.
This is not the first time Somalia took Kenya to court. August 2014, Somalia initiated proceedings at the ICJ, which is the United Nations’ top judicial body. It was then that the ICJ gave Somalia till July 13, 2015, to submit its full case. Kenya was also given time to respond to Somalia’s memorial. Kenya has until May 27, 2016, to respond to Somalia’s case. Although it is unclear when the ICJ will give its decision, it is predicted sometime the end of next year.
Kenya’s Energy Ministry in 2013 said it proposed the boundary run in a straight line, similar to the one established in the south with Tanzania, where rich offshore natural-gas deposits have been discovered. Somalia, however, disagrees with Kenya’s claim that the border be straight line. Somalia, rightfully, claims the line be continues of the land borderline.
It is important to note that Somalia has directly contacted all company exploring the offshore oil blocks. Many have seized operations till they have clear answer to who owns the oil blocks. Of those that still continue to drill, Somalia informed them about the possibility of a daily fine that will be applied retroactively, should Somalia prevail at the ICJ.
Below are three sketches Somalia submitted to the ICJ when it first filed its case last year. First map shows what Kenya is claiming. Second map shows what Somalia claims the border ought to be. And the third map shows the oil explorations blocks in question.
For those interested to learn more about this case, visit the International Court of Justice’s website.