ICJ and the Somalo-Kenyan Marime Dispute

History: Both Somalia and Kenya are signatories to the ICJ. Somalia recognized the Court’s extensive jurisdiction in April, 19, 1963. The then Foreign Minister Abdillahi Isse of Somali signed the article of recognition of the Court’s authority.

Similarly, Kenya also recognized the Court on April 12, 1965. Countries that freely submit to the Court agree on a set of compulsory conditions all of which are binding.

One such a condition is for member states to fully accept the decisions of the Court.

Therefore, both Kenya and Somalia are expected to honor any decisions passed by the Honorable Court.

Extention: the case is extended. Why? Because extension is always granted by the Court if one or all sides request it. The basis for granting extension is not arbitrary but fact-based decision which the presiding judge often aquices.

Because of that, it is immaterial whether Somalia accepted the current extension or not. It is nothing more than a procedural issue. Therefore, the Somali side did not err in accepting the extension.

Can Somalia win the case? Possible. Can Kenya win the case? Remote, but possible. Can they take the case out of court before the next hearing for a more meaningful arbitration? They can, but unlikely.

For Somalia, out of court settlement is tantamount to a political suicide, and/or a compromise on the territorial integrity of Somalia, whereas Kenya would love it. Therefore, it is extremely hard for Somalia to accept any out of Court settellment.

Finally, what happens if the decision of the Court favors Kenya? Somalis will go to the 2020-2021 election polls with suspicion and punish Farmajo and Kayre. But, if Somalia wins, Farmajo and Khayre may drive substantial political capital out of it.

Would Kenya defy the Court’s decision in case it does not like it? Possible, but if it does that, the matter would fall under Article 36 of the UN’s rule, and the UN may rally countries to punish Kenya. How far that would go is not clear.

I am anxiously waiting for a decision favorable to Somalia.

Waabilaahi Towfiq.

Faisal Roble