Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya)
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Overview of the case
On 28 August 2014, Somalia filed an Application instituting proceedings against Kenya with regard to a dispute concerning the delimitation of maritime spaces claimed by both States in the Indian Ocean. In its Application, Somalia requested the Court “to determine, on the basis of international law, the complete course of the single maritime boundary dividing all the maritime areas appertaining to Somalia and to Kenya in the Indian Ocean, including the continental shelf beyond 200 [nautical miles]”.
As basis for the Court’s jurisdiction, the Applicant invoked the provisions of Article 36, paragraph 2, of the Statute, and referred to the declarations recognizing the Court’s jurisdiction as compulsory made under those provisions by Somalia on 11 April 1963 and by Kenya on 19 April 1965. In addition, Somalia submitted that “the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 36, paragraph 2, of its Statute [was] underscored by article 282 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”, which both parties ratified in 1989.
On 7 October 2015, Kenya raised preliminary objections to the jurisdiction of the Court and the admissibility of the Application.
On 2 February 2017, the Court rendered its Judgment on the preliminary objections raised by Kenya. After it rejected those objections, the Court found that “it ha[d] jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by . . . Somalia on 28 August 2014 and that the application [was] admissible”.
Public hearings on the merits of the case, initially scheduled to be held from 9 to 13 September 2019, were successively postponed to November 2019, June 2020 and March 2021, following requests for postponements made by Kenya. The hearings were held in a hybrid format between 15 and 18 March 2021, with the participation of the delegation of Somalia. Kenya did not participate in those hearings.
The Court delivered its Judgment on the merits of the case on 12 October 2021 by which it determined the maritime boundary between Somalia and Kenya. It found that “there is no agreed maritime boundary between . . . Somalia and . . . Kenya that follows the parallel of latitude described in paragraph 35 [of the Judgment]”. The Court decided that “the starting-point of the single maritime boundary delimiting the respective maritime areas between . . . Somalia and . . . Kenya is the intersection of the straight line extending from the final permanent boundary beacon (PB 29) at right angles to the general direction of the coast with the low‑water line, at the point with co‑ordinates 1° 39' 44.0" S and 41° 33' 34.4" E (WGS 84)” and that “from the starting-point, the maritime boundary in the territorial sea follows the median line described at paragraph 117 [of the Judgment] until it reaches the 12‑nautical‑mile limit at the point with co-ordinates 1° 47' 39.1" S and 41° 43' 46.8" E (WGS 84) (Point A)”. It then decided that “from the end of the boundary in the territorial sea (Point A), the single maritime boundary delimiting the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf up to 200 nautical miles between . . . Somalia and . . . Kenya follows the geodetic line starting with azimuth 114° until it reaches the 200‑nautical‑mile limit measured from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea of . . . Kenya is measured, at the point with co‑ordinates 3° 4' 21.3" S and 44° 35' 30.7" E (WGS 84) (Point B)” and that “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”. In its Judgment, the Court rejected the claim made by Somalia, alleging that Kenya, by its conduct in the disputed area, had violated its international obligations.
This overview is provided for information only and in no way involves the responsibility of the Court.