NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Kenya has suffered a setback in its effort to retain a disputed 38,000 square mile triangle in the Indian Ocean after an international court voted to split the area into two portions.
Ten judges including the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday determined that the maritime boundary will “follow the geodetic line starting with azimuth 114° until it reaches the 200-nautical-mile limit measured from the baselines.”
The majority verdict went on to state that the border line will continue to the outer limit “from which the breadth of the territorial sea of the Republic of Kenya is measured, at the point with co-ordinates 3° 4′ 21.3″ S and 44° 35′ 30.7″ E (WGS 84).”
Court President Joan Donoghue, Vice-President Kirill Gevorgian, justices Peter Tomka, Mohamed Bennouna and Xue Hanqin voted in favour of the finding which largley favors Somalia’s claim.
Justices Ronny Abraham, Ahmed Yusuf, Dalveer Bhandari and Nawaf Salam dissented.
“From Point B, the maritime boundary delimiting the continental shelf continues along the same geodetic line until it reaches the outer limits of the continental shelf or the area where the rights of third States may be affected,” a nine-judge majority further stated.
Somalia’s case was premised on Article 15 of the Convention of the Law of Sea adopted in 1982 which Kenya had contested saying the disputed area was in fact under its jurisdiction before the convention was enacted.
Kenya withdrew from the case after unsuccessfully challenging ICJ’s jurisdiction. The Foreign Office, in a statement issued on October 8, termed the anticipated ruling as “the culmination of a flawed process.”
“The delivery of the Judgment will be the culmination of a flawed judicial process that Kenya has had reservations with, and withdrawn from, on account not just of its obvious and inherent bias but also of its unsuitability to resolve the dispute at hand,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Amb Macharia Kamau told news reporters in Nairobi.
“The Government of Kenya recognizes and has consistently indicated as much, that the Judgement of the Court – whichever way – will have profound security, political, social and economic ramifications in the region and beyond. This will, undoubtedly, be unfortunate in a region that is already under the torment of terrorism, instability and conflict,” he added.
In its decision on Tuesday, ICJ however declined to grant Somalia’s reparations for Kenya’s occupation of the contested area.
“The court rejects the claim made by the Federal Republic of Somalia in its final submission number 4 [concerning the allegation that the Republic of Kenya, by its conduct in the disputed area, had violated its international obligations],” the judges determined in a unanimous decision.
Kenya had faulted Somalia’s move to file a dispute at the court citing a UN-backed deal in 2009 under which the two nations resolved to iron out the matter through negotiations.
Somalia however said talks on the matter had stalled forcing the country to seek legal redress to stop what it termed as Kenya’s attempt to auction off shore resources located within the disputed triangle.
Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled who formed part of the country’s delegation that attended the court session at The Hague, Netherlands, said Mogadishu was supportive of a “rules-based” world order defending its decision to sue Nairobi.
Kenya vowed to defend its territorial integrity whichever way the matter is determined.
“The first threat to Kenya’s territorial integrity was overt and direct, during the Shifta War of 1967 – 1969. Then, we ably and successfully demonstrated our resolution and steadfastness in the commitment to safeguard and protect our territorial integrity. We remain resolute and steadfast in the same commitment,” Amb Kamau said.