The Republic of Kenya has today filed her response (the Counter-Memorial) to the case filed by the Federal Republic of Somalia with the registry of the International Court of Justice (The ICJ) in The Hague, The Netherlands. The case relates to the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Kenya and Somalia in the Indian Ocean.
On 28 August 2014, The Federal Republic of Somalia instituted proceedings against The Republic of Kenya. In its case, Somalia claims that the maritime boundary existing between the two countries should be at an equidistant line and that Kenya’s oil exploration activities in the disputed area are unlawful.
The Republic of Kenya submits that the maritime boundary with Somalia is along a parallel of latitude as was decreed in the Presidential Proclamation of 1979. This maritime boundary was revised for greater accuracy in a Second Presidential Proclamation in 2005. Subsequently, in its submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) in 2009, Kenya extended its claim beyond the 200 nautical miles to the outer limits of its continental shelf.
Somalia has since 1979 recognized and respected the maritime boundary between the two countries along a parallel of latitude. However, in 2014, shortly before filing its case with the Court, Somalia claimed a maritime boundary along an equidistance line, ignoring the 35-year practice of recognizing and respecting the maritime boundary along a parallel of latitude. Somalia has admitted to these facts but has opted not to recognize the legal effect resulting from the 35-year-old practice on the maritime boundary.
Kenya asserts that all her activities including naval patrols, fishery activities, marine and scientific research as well as oil and gas exploration are within the maritime boundary established by Kenya and recognized and respected by both parties since 1979.
While respecting the important role that The Court plays in resolving disputes and promoting international peace and security, Kenya maintains that a negotiated solution to the maritime dispute is the best way of addressing the complexities and sensitivities surrounding the boundary issue. This position is entrenched in the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) and several resolutions and decisions of the African Union Heads of State and Government adopted since 1964.
After the filing of the Counter-memorial, The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will be expected to provide direction on the next course of action in early 2018. This case notwithstanding, Kenya will continue supporting sustained efforts to stabilize Somalia considering that the continued instability due to insecurity poses an existential threat to Kenya and to the entire Eastern Africa region.
Kenya is fully committed to protecting her boundaries in order to safeguard her territorial integrity.
DATED: 18th December 2017.