Top UN court rules in favor of Somalia in sea border dispute with Kenya

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has awarded Somalia control of most of a potential oil- and a gas-rich chunk of the Indian Ocean in a dispute over the maritime boundary with neighboring Kenya.

Chief Judge Joan Donoghue said at The Hague-based court on Tuesday there was “no agreed maritime boundary” and drew a new border close to the one claimed by Somalia.

Kenya, which had claimed the entire area off the East African coast, kept a part of the 100,000 square-kilometer area.

Reacting to the decision, Somali Information Minister Osman Abokor Dubbe said the ruling was a result of “sacrifice and struggle” by his country. “We won the case of our sea, which had been captured. This victory has not come through little effort…, it came through sacrifice and struggle,” the minister said on his Facebook page.

Kenya said last week that it had revoked recognition of the court’s jurisdiction and no one would officially represent Nairobi either in court or via video link. The ICJ said Kenya’s withdrawal did not affect the judgment.

Somalia took Kenya to the UN’s highest court over the disputed patch of sea in 2014. Somalia insisted that the boundary should follow the orientation of its land border. But Kenya said its boundary runs in a delineation that would have given it a big triangular slice of the sea.

Nairobi says it has exercised sovereignty over the area since 1979. The contested area is believed to contain rich gas and oil deposits, and also has important fishing rights. Kenya has already granted exploration permits to Italian energy giant ENI, but Somalia is contesting the move.

The court’s action could have far-reaching consequences for the future of relations between the two neighbors.

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