Somalia and Kenya Maritime Boundary Dispute now at the International Court of Justice

Somalia and Kenya Maritime Boundary Dispute now at the International Court of Justice

Kenya and Somalia are currently fighting at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a specified area of 100,000 square kilometers in the Indian Ocean in which natural resources have been found. Both have engaged economically in this space and have claimed it, which has created tension. As a reminder, Kenya has been involved militarily in Somalia since 2011 in an effort to stop the Islamic terrorist group Al-Shabaab, which has been trying to impose strict Islamic law in Somalia and is believed to be aligned with Al-Qaeda.

Recently, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta alleged that the Somali government has auctioned oil blocks in the disputed marine territory to European countries, but the Somali government has denied this claim.

This issue has also affected everyday life of local Kenyans and Somalis. Joseph Kanyiri, the Lamu County Commissioner in Kenya, recently announced that fishing near the Somali-Kenyan border, specifically in Ras Kamboni or Kiunga, must be paused for security reasons. Furthermore, there have been reports of illegal human trafficking and trading of goods in this area. 

Border conflict between neighboring countries in Africa is not uncommon and it derives from colonialism. Drawing and imposing these borders during the 1884-1885 Berlin Conference has caused political, social and economic harm across Africa, and there seems to be no nearing end to it. 

Kenya and Somalia must resist the influence of external forces interested in the resources in this area. While we wait for a ruling from the ICJ, the African Union and other African bodies must get involved to ensure a peaceful resolution of the dispute. 

 

Written by Research Intern Magdalena Dutkowska.

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