Published On: Wed, Apr 8th, 2020

Kenya and Somalia’s Long-Simmering Territorial Dispute Threatens to Boil Over

A 62,000-square-mile triangle of the Indian Ocean is driving a wedge in the Horn of Africa. For years, Kenya and Somalia have been at odds over the pie-shaped slice of the sea, to which each lays a claim and which is believed to contain sizable oil and gas deposits. But tensions between the two have been rising in recent months and are magnifying a standoff between Somalia’s central government and the semiautonomous Jubbaland region, in the country’s south.

The dispute between Kenya and Somalia is rooted in a disagreement over which direction the two countries’ border extends into the Indian Ocean. Somalia argues that the maritime boundary should continue on in the same direction as the land border’s southeasterly path. Kenya, meanwhile, insists that the border should take a roughly 45-degree turn at the shoreline and run in a latitudinal line, giving Nairobi access to a larger chunk of the sea.

Somalia brought its case to the International Court of Justice at The Hague in 2014, but the hearing has been delayed. It is now scheduled for June. Kenya has opposed the process in The Hague, but Somalia, which is in a far weaker geopolitical position due to its weak political institutions and long-running security challenges, has hung its hopes on the International Court of Justice as its best avenue for justice. The coronavirus pandemic, however, threatens to push the hearing date back even further.

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Kenya and Somalia’s Long-Simmering Territorial Dispute Threatens to Boil Over
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