The case that will be analyzed is Somalia v. Kenya. It is one of the contentious cases heard by the International Court of Justice. This case is of special interest because it is related to international conventions as well as points to one of the most significant issues in international law – borders between the states. Therefore, the objective of the paper at hand is to review the case paying special attention to such aspects of analysis as a summary of the resolution, legal case, and facts related to the dispute.
Summary of the Resolution
Somalia was the side to bring the resolution of the long-lasting boundary conflict to the International Court of Justice. This decision dates back to August 2014. Somalia requested the court to establish a single maritime boundary between the two countries. The representative of Somalia claimed that Kenya was interested in controlling the maritime boundary between them because it is one of the ways to extend the land boundary.
It is of significant importance for obtaining control over continental shelf natural resources that is potentially connected to the increased rates of Kenya’s economic development and the prosperity of companies involved in the resources sector. The main objection filed by Somalia is that the maritime boundary should be established by a median line so that the two countries could have equal control over the continental shelf. Here, it is essential to state that Kenya is interested in establishing the boundary by the straight line that is more beneficial for this country because it is connected to having more control opportunities compared to Somalia.
On the other hand, the representatives of Kenya claimed that Somalia should not have filed this application for the International Court of Justice to hear it because the case is not related to the provisions of international law and does not fall under the jurisdiction of the court. Instead, it is stated that all issues related to the boundary should be regulated in accordance to the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in 2009. From this perspective, Kenya demanded that all boundary-related conflicts should be regulated bilaterally, not internationally. This objection was filed in October 2014. In February 2015. Somalia filed an objection claiming that the International Court of Justice is the only legal institution it will cooperate with to solve the dispute.
To resolve the case, the professionals of the International Court of Justice paid special attention to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Kenya and the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic as well as the provisions of international treaties. In particular, the focus was made on the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. At the same time, the stress was laid on the history of submissions of information related to the maritime boundary for the review of and registration by the United Nations.
The case was solved on February 2, 2017. The International Court of Justice determined that Kenya should file the Counter-Memorial by December 18, 2017. Moreover, the Court rejected that it lacks jurisdiction to solve the dispute (the first preliminary objection filed by Kenya), thus supporting Somalia’s application and finding it admissible (“Maritime Delimitation”).
Facts Related to the Case
Kenya and Somalia are located on the East African Coast. In 2009, the two states signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Kenya and the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic aimed at determining provisions related to the regulation of bilateral relations. When filing an application to the International Court of Justice, Somalia pointed to rich gas and oil deposits in the Indian Ocean and laid stress that Kenya’s position is connected to the desire to control more deposits. In addition, it was revealed that Kenya cooperated with American companies with the aim of exploring deposits located in the Indian Ocean. However, they were located within the area of the continental shelf if drawn by a straight line, not a median one.
Somalia and Kenya are not the parties to the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Therefore, it is evident that all disputes between the two states should be governed in accordance to the customary provisions of international law (“Vienna Convention”). Still, the provisions of the Convention are applicable to interpreting the Memorandum of Understanding (“Maritime Delimitation”).
Reflection on the Case
Reviewing the case and all related facts, I agree with the solution of the International Court of Justice. According to the 1969 Vienna Convection, all treaties should be interpreted as a single whole (“Vienna Convention”). From this perspective, because the Memorandum of Understanding recognizes that any disputes should be governed by the provision of international law, it is possible to conclude that the International Court of Justice can be involved in the process of dispute settlement. This belief is backed up by the fact that the two states have not determined the procedure of dispute settlement in the Memorandum of Understanding. Therefore, Somalia’s application was admissible because this procedure corresponds with the standard provisions of international law.
“Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v. Kenya).” International Court of Justice. 2017. Web.
“Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (with Annex).” UN. 2017. Web.