AU urges Somalia, Kenya to seek sustainable solution to maritime border dispute

The African Union (AU) has strongly called on Somalia and Kenya to pursue and intensify their engagements with a view to finding an amicable and sustainable solution to their maritime boundary dispute.

In its latest meeting on Thursday, the Peace and Security Council of the 55-member pan-African bloc dwelt upon the maritime boundary dispute between the two neighboring East African nations here at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, according to an AU statement on Friday.

The council has urged the parties to refrain from any action that may threaten the existing good neighborliness between the two countries.

Kenya and Somalia have been involved in a maritime border dispute for years. Kenya claimed it has long considered the maritime border to go along the parallel of latitude, whereas Somalia wants it to continue along the line of its land border, citing international sea laws. The disputed triangular area off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean covers some 100,000 square km.

The dispute was taken to the ICJ by Somalia in 2014. Kenya has contested the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case and to the admissibility of the suit based on a 2009 agreement between the two countries that the dispute would be resolved through negotiation.

The council has recalled the relevant provisions of the AU Constitutive Act and the PSC Protocol relating to good neighborliness and promotion of peace, security and stability in the Continent, notably through the promotion of African solutions to African problems, including the use of the AU Border Programme.

It has noted the legal opinion provided by the AU Legal Counsel on questions raised by the council in relation to the case concerning the maritime boundary dispute between the two countries, which is now before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The council has commended Somalia and Kenya for their contribution to the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa, in the Horn of Africa.

The Council requested the Chairperson of the AU Commission to urgently make use of his good offices, either personally or through the appointment of a special envoy to engage with the parties towards finding an amicable and sustainable settlement, in consultation and collaboration with the relevant regional mechanisms.

It has also requested the Chairperson of the AU Commission to regularly report to council on his efforts and the evolution of the situation.