ICJ determines the maritime boundary between Somalia and Kenya

On 12 October 2021, the International Court of Justice (the “ICJ” or “Court”) rendered its final judgment in the case Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya), after deciding in 2017 that it had jurisdiction over the dispute. The Court rejected Kenya’s contention that there had already existed a maritime boundary, based on acquiescence, following a “parallel of latitude”. The Court proceeded to delimit a boundary following a form of equidistance line in the territorial sea and an adjusted equidistance line (due to a relevant circumstance of concavity, or cut-off effect) in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. The Court extended the continental shelf boundary beyond 200 nautical miles on the basis that both States had claimed outer shelf entitlements in submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and neither had questioned the other’s entitlement.

Public hearings, which had been initially scheduled from 9 to 13 September 2019, were postponed to November 2019, June 2020 and March 2021, following requests by Kenya. Kenya’s requests were initially due to a delay in recruiting a new legal and technical team, and later due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearings were finally held from 15 to 18 March 2021 in a hybrid format. Kenya did not participate in the oral proceeding. On 8 October 2021, prior to the Court’s judgment, Kenya’s Foreign Ministry publicly stated that Kenya was “…withdrawing its recognition of the International Court of Justice compulsory jurisdiction. As a sovereign nation Kenya shall no longer be subjected to an international court or tribunal without its express consent”.

The ICJ’s Judgment can be found here.