East Africa: Kenya-Somalia Sea Row - ICJ Delays Case Until June 2020

The area in the Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute forms a triangle east of the Kenya coast.
17 October 2019

The International Court of Justice has approved a request by Kenya to delay public hearing of its maritime boundary case with Somalia.

ICJ pushed the case to June 8, 2020 and warned that there will be no further delays.


In September, Kenya had asked for a delay by up to a year, saying it needed time to reconstitute a legal team.

But ICJ which had initially set September 9-13 date, pushed the public hearings to November 4-8.

Kenya's Attorney General however appealed the decision arguing the period granted was insufficient. He asked for a year, saying September 2020 was ideal.

The court, after hearing objections from Somalia says June 2020 is the final decision and there won't be any further rescheduling.

The decision could at least lower the tempo of tensions between the two countries which had recently reached near diplomatic cut-off as the hearing date nears.

Kenya has argued the case shouldn't be heard at the ICJ saying the Court is rigid and may not resolve political issues attached to the case.

It has in stead approached the African Union, seeking out of court negotiations.

Last month, Somalia's President Mohamed Farmaajo rejected the offer saying the AU has no capacity. He said the Court should be final arbiter.

Somalia sued Kenya at the ICJ in 2014, seeking to redraw the sea boundary between the two countries from the current straight line to a diagonal flow. The disputed area is about 100, 000km2 and is said to contain hydrocarbons.

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