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International Journal of Research and Innovation in Social Science (IJRISS) |Volume VI, Issue XI, November 2022|ISSN 2454-6186

An analysis of Kenya-Somalia Maritime Territorial Dispute in IR perspective

 Waweru John Migui, Nyabuti Damaris Kemunto, Dr Anita Kiamba University Of Nairobi, Kenya

IJRISS Call for paper

Abstract: Kenya-Somalia relations have been strained for some time due to economic and maritime boundary disputes. The area under dispute is a region in the Indian Ocean region stretching for more than 100,000 square kilometers. It is not clear which country could be the rightful owner of the contested area. Furthermore, countries in the global arena have, over the years, gained economic interest in the region as it is rich in oil. These countries include United States, France, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Turkey, and Italy. The International Court of Justice has been the main intermediary of the dispute between Kenya and Somali. However, The ICJ has faced a myriad of challenges in the dispute resolution. At last the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its long-awaited verdict in the case of Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v Kenya) on the location of the maritime boundary between Somalia and Kenya on October 12, 2021. The study seeks to understand Kenya-Somalia Maritime Territorial Dispute. The objectives of the study is to analyze the role of the media in the Kenya-Somali maritime dispute and best mode of dispute settlement according to the provisions of Chapter VI of the UN Pacific Settlement of Disputes.


Kenya and Somalia have had a maritime dispute since colonial times. Nonetheless, Somalia filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court in 2014, claiming that Kenya was invading its maritime territory (offshore area of 100,000 square kilometers). This was based on both countries’ recognition of the Court’s obligatory jurisdiction under Article 36 (2) of the ICJ Statute, also known as the “optional clause declarations.” This Article states that all states parties to the present Statute may declare at any time that they recognize the Court’s jurisdiction in all legal disputes as mandatory and without special agreement, in relation to any other state accepting the same obligation. (United Nations, 1945) Whereas Somalia wants the boundary defined by the ICJ, as stipulated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as other global laws, Kenya has stuck to its guns on its preferred border demarcation according to the 1979 decree. The area under dispute is a region in the Indian Ocean region stretching for more than 100,000 square kilometers (about 62,000 square miles) that comes about from projecting the Kenya-Somalia common border eastwards (Wasike, 2021). Somalia appealed to the ICJ not only to extend the continental shelf, but also to fix a line which separates the territorial sea between her and Kenya and the Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). Somalia claims that Kenya has violated its international obligations and does not respect Somalia’s territorial