By Presidential Press Unit
On the 24th September, 2021, the International Court of Justice (the Court) released a Press Statement indicating that it would deliver its Judgement in the case concerning the maritime boundary dispute between Kenya and Somalia on the 12th October, 2021.
The delivery of the Judgment will be the culmination of a flawed judicial process that Kenya has had reservations with, and withdrawn from, on account not just of its obvious and inherent bias but also of its unsuitability to resolve the dispute at hand.
Since independence, Kenya has been and continues to thrive as a beacon of peace and stability in the region and beyond. This has been enabled in large part by Kenya’s foreign policy that is founded on the precept of peaceful co-existence and good neighbourliness. Indeed, in times of tumult and strife, it is Kenya that our neighbours have turned to for leadership, support, peace and safety.
It is in this context that Kenya had maintained – even before Somalia filed the current case – that any dispute between the two countries regarding their maritime boundary should be resolved through amicable negotiations. In fact, in 2009, the two countries entered into an agreement on how and when to amicably address matters concerning the maritime boundary.
Kenya reiterated this position when Somalia filed the case at the International Court of Justice. Surprisingly, the Court assumed jurisdiction where it had none, by effectively ignoring Kenya’s 1965 reservation that excluded disputes such as the present one from the Court’s jurisdiction. Ironically, while the Court declared our 2009 agreement with Somalia on how and when to address matters concerning the maritime boundary valid, it proceeded to ignore the same.
The first threat to Kenya’s territorial integrity was overt and direct, during the Shifta War of 1967 – 1969. Then, we ably and successfully demonstrated our resolution and steadfastness in the commitment to safeguard and protect our territorial integrity. We remain resolute and steadfast in the same commitment.
It is important for every Kenyan to understand that threats to territorial integrity are now no longer necessarily overt and direct. The filing of a case against Kenya at the Court, and the Court’s assumption of jurisdiction where it had none, are demonstrative of new tactics of using pseudo-judicial processes to undermine territorial integrity.
For these reasons, and in addition to withdrawing its participation from the current case, Kenya, on the 24th September, 2021, also joined many other members of the United Nations in withdrawing its recognition of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction. As a sovereign nation, Kenya shall no longer be subjected to an international court or tribunal without its express consent.
The Government of Kenya recognizes and has consistently indicated as much, that the Judgement of the Court – whichever way – will have profound security, political, social and economic ramifications in the region and beyond. This will, undoubtedly, be unfortunate in a region that is already under the torment of terrorism, instability and conflict.
While the Government recognizes the potential of these ramifications, every Kenyan is to be assured that the Government is fully seized of this matter. Kenyans are therefore called upon to remain calm before, during and after the delivery of the Judgment.