NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 13 – Kenya has rejected the judgement of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a decade-long maritime dispute with Somalia urging a negotiated settlement through the African Union framework.
In a statement following a majority decision by a 14-judge bench of the ICJ, 10 of whom voted to split a disputed 38,000 square mile triangle in the Indian Ocean between the two nations, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya will not recognize the findings of the court.
“At the outset, Kenya wishes to indicate that it rejects in totality and does not recognize the findings in the decision,” President Kenyatta remarked on Tuesday, hours after the Hague-based court delivered its ruling.
“This decision is, in the circumstances, a zero-sum game, which will strain the relations between the two countries. It will also reverse the social, political and economic gains; and potentially aggravate the peace and security situation in the fragile Horn of Africa Region,” he further pointed out.
Under the decision supported by Court President Joan Donoghue, Vice-President Kirill Gevorgian; Justices Peter Tomka, Mohamed Bennouna and Xue Hanqin, Somalia retained most of the disputed triangle with the court only altering slightly Mogadishu’s claim.
The judges said the maritime border 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).”
Justices Ronny Abraham, Ahmed Yusuf, Dalveer Bhandari and Nawaf Salam dissented.
Kenya having withdrawn its recognition of ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction on September 24, President Kenyatta appealed to the community of nations to respect Kenya’s right to protect its territory, including the disputed area, notwithstanding the decision by the court.
“We beseech the rest of the family of Nations to appreciate and respect our inherent right to protect, by all available means, our territory,” he appealed.
Kenya further defended its decision to withdraw its recognition of the ICJ noting three out of five United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – China, United States and France – had taken similar. Russia has never accepted ICJ’ jurisdiction.
The presidency further noted that only five of ten non-permanent members of the UNSC – India, Estonia, Mexico, Ireland and Norway – recognize ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
President Kenyatta was quick to note that Kenya, “will only reconsider this withdrawal when pragmatic reforms are instituted in the administration of international justice.”
While reaffirming his commitment to resolve the matter amicably, President Kenyatta said he will not relent to resist any attempt to breach Kenya’s territorial integrity.
“I will do everything possible as President and Commander-in-Chief, to preserve the territory of this our great Republic and bequeath the same, intact and unencumbered, to the next President when my term expires in less than a year’s time,” he asserted.
Kenya withdrew its participation from proceedings at the ICJ on March 14, after an unsuccessful bid to challenge the court’s jurisdiction and admissibility of the case.
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 offshore 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 file the case.