By Stephanie van den Berg
THEHAGUE – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Tuesday hands down its judgment in a case filed by Somalia against Kenya over contested parts of the Indian Ocean believed to be rich in oil and gas.
The ruling comes after Nairobi last week said it had revoked recognition of the court’s jurisdiction.
Somalia filed the case in 2014 at the United Nation’s highest court for disputes between states. A decision could determine who holds the rights to exploit oil and gas in the deep waters off the East African coastline.
The case at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, concerns a maritime boundary dispute over more than 100,000 sq km (nearly 40,000 sq miles) of sea floor claimed by both countries.
In March, Kenya boycotted public hearings in The Hague.
Kenya said on Friday that in addition to withdrawing its participation from the current case, it had joined many other members of the U.N. in withdrawing its recognition of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction.
“The delivery of the Judgment will be the culmination of a flawed judicial process that Kenya has had reservations with, and withdrawn from, on account not just of its obvious and inherent bias but also of its unsuitability to resolve the dispute at hand,” Kenya’s foreign office said.
The withdrawal does not work retroactively and will have no influence on the Somalia case, ICJ spokesperson Andrey Poskakukhin said on Tuesday.
The sea boundary row started in 2012 after Somalia accused Kenya of illegally awarding exploration rights in the waters to multinationals Total and Eni.
Eni declined to comment on the case Tuesday and Total did not immediately respond to questions from Reuters.
The extent of the hydrocarbon reserves in the disputed waters is unknown, but Kenya awarded the licences at a time when the East African coast was emerging as one of the world’s hottest oil exploration prospects.
Rulings by the World Court are final. However, it has no direct means of enforcement and some states have ignored its decisions in the past.