Why Kenya Pulled Out of Somalia Maritime Case At the Hague

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo follow proceedings during Kenya's 16th annual National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on May 31, 2018.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo follow proceedings during Kenya's 16th annual National Prayer Breakfast at Safari Park hotel in Nairobi on May 31, 2018.
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  • Kenya on March 14, 2021, pulled out of the ongoing border dispute case with Somalia which was set to be heard at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

    The government cited biases and ignorance of its request to have the case delayed due to the ongoing pandemic.  

    The maritime border case with Somalia was scheduled for Monday, March 15, and was to run until March 24. Nairobi had asked for the fourth postponement which was not granted.

    This image taken on May 10, 2016 in Mandera shows the abandoned project to build a Kenya-Somalia border wall.
    This image taken on May 10, 2016 in Mandera shows the abandoned project to build a Kenya-Somalia border wall.
    Daily Nation

    Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki sent a letter detailing Kenya’s decision to the ICJ on March 11. 

    “Kenya wishes to inform the court, through the Registrar, that it shall not be participating in the hearing in the case herein, should the same proceed from March 15, 2021, as presently scheduled,” the AG’s letter read in parts. 

    The AG added that Kenya has not prepared enough due to the ongoing health pandemic and that it’s new legal team is still familiarizing themselves with the case before the ICJ. 

    “The consequence of this is that Kenya and its legal team were deprived of the opportunity of having necessary preparatory meetings and engagement,” Kariku added. 

    Kenya’s decision has raised questions as to how the case will proceed, or if the outcome will be enforced should the case take place with only one party represented. 

    The trade and diplomatic war between Nairobi and Mogadishu began in 2014 when Somali filed a territorial ownership case at the ICJ accusing Kenya of grabbing some parts of the Indian Ocean

    Kenya responded by dismissing Somalia's argument saying that if the Hague-based court rules in favour of Somalia, it could lead to social, economical and political complications. 

    On February 21, Kenya brought a new legal team to lead in the maritime case against Somalia which has been ongoing for more than six years.

    The lawyers all of whom have a global reputation include Sean Murphy of the George Washington School of Law, Justice Tullion Treves, a former judge at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea and Phoebe Okowa who is a lecturer of International Law at the Queen Mary University in the United Kingdom among others. 

    The decision to hire the new lawyers came after ICJ rejected Kenya's bid to postpone the case for the fourth time.

    "We have rejected Kenya's fourth request to the ICJ to postpone the two countries' maritime case," said Osman Dubbe, Information Minister of Somalia. 

    This came after Somalia had filed a petition to the (ICJ) to reject Kenya's request for the postponement of the case for the fourth time.

    Disputed Kenya- Somalia Maritime Border
    Disputed Kenya- Somalia Maritime Border
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