Kenya-Somali Maritime Border Wars


Recent happenings surrounding the Kenya-Somali border war, saw Kenya recall its Ambassador to Somali-Lt. General (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo- after Somali auctioned oil blocks in the disputed border area. The ambassador was recalled for urgent consultations following Somalia’s move to auction oil and gas in the disputed maritime area. In the same breath, Kenya sent home Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Mohamoud Ahmed Nur alias Tarzan. This move by Kenya, many fear might see a rise of diplomatic war between the two neighboring countries. In a statement read by Kenya’s  Foreign Affairs Ps, Macharia Kamau, “This outrageous and provocative auction deserves and will be met with a unanimous and resounding rejection by all Kenyans as well as all people of goodwill who believe in the maintenance of international law and order and the peaceful and legal resolution of disputes.” He further went ahead and said that the auction carried out by Somalia, has severely damaged the existing cordial relations between the two countries. Somalia auctioned the area under dispute to the highest bidder from United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and Norway after showing them a map at a London Conference, that indicated the maritime border belonging to Somalia.

Somalia in their response denied the allegations raised against it. In a statement issued by Somalia on February 17, 2019, Somalia regretted that Kenya had expelled its ambassador without prior consultations.” The maps in question depict Somalia’s claimed maritime zones and are entirely consistent with Somalia’s long-standing position, including its claim in the maritime delimitation case with Kenya, currently before the International Court of Justice,” part of the statement read.

But where did this all begin from? The Kenya-Somali border began in 2014, following a sue filled by Somali at the International Court of Justice at the Hague in the Netherlands. The sue was for unlawful operations by Kenya in her maritime territory. The area of dispute is a triangular patch created by projecting the Kenya-Somali border eastwards which measures 100,000 square kilometers. Kenya challenged the petition in October 2015, with a plea to hear the case. This followed a first hearing held by ICJ on September 19 to 20 2016. Kenya’s plea to hear the case was however nullified in February 2017.

What exactly is the course of the dispute regarding the Kenya-Somali coastline border war? Kenya wants the border to run eastwards. That is, the border should run along the parallel latitude south-east of Kyunga (border town between Kenya and Somali) while  Somalia on the other hand, prefers having the borderline run on a diagonal line down the Kenyan coast. As per a statement issued by Kenya,” Somali has since 1979, recognized and respected the maritime boundary between the two countries along a parallel of latitude. However, in 2014, shortly before filling its case with the case, Somali claimed a maritime boundary along an equidistant line, ignoring the 35-year practice of recognizing the maritime boundary along a parallel of latitude.” This area of contention is under so much row between the two countries because it has a large deposit of oil and gas.

We hope that this maritime border dispute will not escalate to war between the two countries and that the issue will be resolved amicably. Kenya on their part through the Foreign Affairs Ministry has said that an amicable and peaceful resolution of maritime boundary dispute was ongoing including bilateral negotiations and a process in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Rachel Kaburi

Correspondent at The organization for World Peace
Rachel Kaburi is currently pursuing her Masters of Art in Communication studies at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Previously worked as a Customer Service Assistant for an Insurance Company.She is a fun-loving person with a bubbly personality and loves seeing everything from a positive spectrum.
Rachel Kaburi

About Rachel Kaburi

Rachel Kaburi is currently pursuing her Masters of Art in Communication studies at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Previously worked as a Customer Service Assistant for an Insurance Company.She is a fun-loving person with a bubbly personality and loves seeing everything from a positive spectrum.