ICJ begins deliberations on Kenya, Somalia border issue

27 September 2016, Week 38, Issue 658

The public hearings on the disputed marine borders between Kenya and Somalia were concluded on September 23. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has begun its deliberations, it said in a statement and results will be announced in due course.

Hearings began on September 19. Kenya’s delegation is led by its attorney general, Githu Muigai, while Somalia’s team was led by Ali Said Faqi, the Somali ambassador to Belgium. Norway has provided assistance to Somalia in its application. 

Kenya has asked the court to declare that the ICJ does not have jurisdiction on the case, which was brought by Somalia, and to dismiss it. Somalia, meanwhile, called for the court to reject Kenya’s objections and to declare that it had jurisdiction on the application. 

Deliberations take place in private and resulted in a number of draft decisions and votes by the judges. 

Somalia filed an application in August 2014 launching its case against Kenya. The country has objected to Kenya’s claims and has called for ICJ ruling based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Making the case for Somalia was Mona Al-Sharmani, who described Mogadishu as having “exercised restraint and refrained from activities in the disputed area. Regrettably, Kenya has not taken the same approach. It seems to consider that the area in dispute belongs to it.” The lawyer went on to say that Kenya had already granted concessions in the area and exploration was under way. 

The Somali bid also noted various activities carried out by Kenya in support of exploration in the area. For instance, in September 2015 the National Oil Corp. of Kenya (NOCK) issued a call for a 3D multi-client seismic survey in the shallow waters of the Lamu Basin, with a tentative plan for a licensing round in 2017. Furthermore, a 2D seismic survey was carried out in 2014, with one licensee carrying out drilling in one of the disputed blocks. 

Kenya is asserting its claim to territory following a parallel line of latitude. While the hearing continues, though, the country has suspended Eni’s exploration at L-21, L-23 and L-24. Exploration areas held by Total and Anadarko Petroleum, with licences on L-22 and L-24 respectively, have also been reported as being potentially at risk of an ICJ ruling.