THE HAGUE, 16 March 2021 – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is proceeding with the maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya, despite latter’s absence.
The ICJ expressed regrets Monday that Kenya had decided “not to participate” in the proceedings, but ruled to continue the hearing.
The court also turned down a request by Kenya to address it before the start of proceedings, seeking another postponement of public arguments after securing two previous postponements.
The legal team representing Somalia made oral arguments at the opening of the hearing on Monday, expressing deep concern about the decision by Kenya to withdraw from the case.
Kenya’s decision not to participate has been roundly criticized as “inconsistent with its obligations… and rule of law”.
The case started in 2014 with Somalia accusing Kenya of claiming an oil- and gas-rich part of their common border that lies within the territorial waters of Somalia.
Kenya claims that the disputed area – a total of 62,000 sq miles (160,000 sq km) triangle of land in the Indian Ocean – lies in Kenyan territorial waters.
While Somalia says the maritime border is supposed to follow along the same lines as the land border, Kenya says the maritime border should be taken in a horizontal line from the point where the two countries meet at the coast.
Judgments delivered by the ICJ, or by one of its Chambers, in disputes between States are binding upon the parties concerned in keeping with Article 94 of the United Nations Charter which says the Member States undertake “to comply with the decision of [the Court] in any case to which it is a party”.
“Judgments are final and without appeal. If there is a dispute about the meaning or scope of a judgment, the only possibility is for one of the parties to make a request to the Court for an interpretation,” according to the Court’s “Frequently Asked Questions” brochure.