“Maritime Law with special emphasis on the conflict between Somalia and Kenya.”
The Maritime border dispute between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Republic of Kenya has be raging for over thirty years, and the growing tension between the two war-torn African states is at its breaking point. Somalian law over the border was step up during the 1970s, later the Somalian government signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) henceforth putting the nation under its guidelines. The maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean is divided by the territorial borders of both coastal states. The state of Somalia urges the maritime border to be set following the territorial limits of the state in the southeast direction, while Kenya requests the maritime boundary to be set eastwards in a straight line. Along with the increasing threat of piracy in this area, Kenyan forces in Somalian waters are a cause of concern for the Somalian government. Both states are bound by the UNCLOS, and any actions taken are to be under the laws set by this convention. As no unanimous decisions were made on the basis of the border dispute, both coastal states signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2009. This was later deemed “null and void” by the new transitional government of the state of Somalia. Furthermore, tensions have grown over the recently discovered crude oil reserves present in the area under dispute, which the Kenyan government attempts to hold claim over (thus violating the UNCLOS).
On the basis of the maritime border dispute, the Federal Republic of Somalia seeks the right to maintain control over its waters and the resources present in these waters. The maritime area within this boundary is an essential part of the economy and trade of Somalia. In light of recent economic crises (and the rich untapped petroleum and fishing reserves), this coastal area as gained increased importance. This disputed maritime area also suffers from problems with piracy. The state of Somalia also fears for its security due to the presence of Kenyan naval forces in the maritime area near the coast of the nation. The only possible solution to the aforementioned problems is for the maritime border to be set. The state of Somalia stands for the guidelines set in UNCLOS and intends to follow the past Somalian law set over the disputed area. The Somalian government only asks for the border to be set as democratically as possible, providing equal maritime control for both nations.
As mentioned previously, the maritime border dispute is an extremely sensitive issue, and the state wishes to avoid the possibility of conflict. It also seeks for a fair verdict on the basis of setting of the border. The state of Somalia seeks for the maritime boundary to be set leading from the land boundary of the state in the south-east direction (200 nautical miles from the coast). This will provide an ample span of maritime control for both Somalia and Kenya. The state of Somalia also requests for the withdrawal of Kenyan forces from Somalian waters (with the immediate establishment of UN Peacekeeping forces in the region, to safeguard the state from the threat of piracy). The state also requests for OPEC nations along with other specialized agencies to look into the oil reserves in the maritime region in question.