Maritime dispute: Somalia rejects mediation 'offer'

Tuesday July 25 2023

A delegation following the International Court of Justice hearings in the case of maritime delimitation in the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Kenya in September 2016. PHOTO | ICJ-CIJ


Somalia says it will not accept mediation over a maritime dispute with Kenya, which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decided in October 2021.

Somalia’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Ali Mohamed Omar told a committee of MPs that Somalia was not in any talks with Kenya to resolve the dispute.

The issue had been raised on Saturday by a member of the parliamentary committee who sought clarification from State the Federal Government following reports that Kenya’s President William Ruto had asked the Djiboutian counterpart Omar Ismael Guelleh to help broker the deal.

Read: Kenya fails to strike oil in area claimed by Somalia

The minister, instead, says Somalia will abide by the Court’s ruling which mostly re-demarcated the sea border between the two countries.

“Regarding the remarks made by Ruto, the maritime dispute was settled by the ICJ and there is no turning point on that. The court verdict favoured Somalia’s sovereignty,” Omar stated.


“Perhaps the (discussion on the) implementation on the court ruling is possible, but the ownership (of the sea) isn’t anything on the table.”

The minister further dismissed that such mediation is to be performed by Djibouti and there was nothing to talk about.

“It came as a surprise to us, and I don’t think there is any dispute between Kenya and Somalia that Djibouti is involved in resolving. I believe the court ruling is final,” the state minister further stated.

According to Somalia, Djibouti has not approached Somalia on this issue yet, but that Mogadishu will decline any such overtures in future.

Neither Kenya nor Djibouti have publicly commented on the claims.

Somalia had sued Kenya at the ICJ back in 2014 seeking to reclaim a part of Kenya’s waters in the Indian Ocean.

Read: Kenya’s Indian Ocean oil dream fades

In October 2021, the Court agreed with most of the claims and dropped others.

The ICJ decisions are binding to the parties and have no option for appeal. However, the two countries will need to actually re-demarcate the boundaries as decided by the Court.

ICJ Ruling in Summary:

-The case concerned 100,000 sq km triangle in the Indian Ocean that is thought to be rich in oil and gas. Further studies to some of the identified blocks however showed the oil was not viable

-Kenya argued the maritime border runs in a line due east from where the two countries meet at the coast.

-Somalia, however, argued in court that tit should follow on in the same direction as their land border.

-Judges rejected Somalia’s demand for reparations after accusing Kenya of violating its territorial integrity

-The 14 Judges sitting at the Hague redrew the boundary, establishing a new demarcation line between the disputed territory. They rejected Kenya’s claim that Somalia had previously agreed to a demarcation.