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KENYA-SOMALIA MARITIME ROW: President Uhuru Kenyatta with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the sidelines of the UNGA, New York, September 25, 2018.
Image: PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta is scheduled to chair a UN Security Council high-level meeting on the day the ICJ will deliver the judgment on the maritime dispute with Somalia.

Through a statement on Monday, State House said the open debate would be on diversity, state building and peace.

Kenya is not only a UNSC member but also holds the monthly rotational presidency of the Council this October.

Quoting Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Martin Kimani, State House said the country’s overriding agenda at the UNSC is to offer ideas and solutions to global peace and security in areas such as the Horn of Africa and the troubled Sahel region.

“The Security Council is a body that has the mandate to solve major challenges, but for many reasons has been unable to do so. We have ideas on how to do that, we have experience in building peace in our region and we bring those ideas and perspectives to the Council.

“Kenya is suggesting new innovations on how to approach particular conflict situations,” the statement quoted Kimani.

However, despite on various occasions expressing its support for multilateralism, Kenya on Friday announced withdrawal of its recognition of the International Court of Justice’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau in a strongly worded statement said Kenya will also not recognise ICJ’s judgment on the Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute.

“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delivery of the judgment will be the culmination of a flawed judicial process that Kenya has had reservations with and withdrawn from, on account not just of its obvious and inherent bias but also of its unsuitability to resolve the dispute at hand,” he said.

Citing Shifta War of 1967 – 69, which he termed as “the first overt and direct threat to Kenya’s territorial integrity,” PS Kamau said the country remains resolute and steadfast to “ably and successfully” safeguard and protect its territorial integrity.

“Kenya shall no longer be subjected to an international court or tribunal without its express consent,” the PS, who was flanked by vice chief of Kenya Defence Forces Francis Ogola, Solicitor General Kennedy Ogeto and Defence PS Ibrahim Mohamed, added.

The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations and under Article 94 (1) provides that each member of the United Nations undertakes to comply with the decision of the court in any case to which it is a party.

“If any party to a case fails to perform the obligations incumbent upon it under a judgment rendered by the Court, the other party may have recourse to the Security Council, which may, if it deems necessary, make recommendations or decide upon measures to be taken to give effect to the judgment,” the charter states.

But Professor Peter Kagwanja of Africa Policy Institute opines that the international system is made up of countries with national interests and the UN is just a platform for the countries.

He told the Star that states, when their interests are disadvantaged, have the option to disregard such judgments.

“The US, Israel, China and Russia have done that so many times. Only that now, there will be a third world country standing its grounds against a judgment that is detriment to its own national interests in a process manipulated by external forces in Middle East,” he noted on Monday.

He said there was no justification for the maritime case to continue at the ICJ while the negotiations were not concluded.

“And what makes Somalia special? Kenya and Tanzania are addressing these issues through negotiations, Tanzania and Mozambique and Mozambique and South Africa. This is why Kenya is standing by its guns,” Kagwanja said.

International Crisis Group Horn of Africa researcher Meron Elias said the ruling will likely further strain the relationship.

Elias, however, said it is in the interest of the two states to de-escalate the dispute because of their interests.

“Kenya and Somalia are historically and economically tied. They also share common security interests when it comes to tackling the al Shabaab threat.

“They, therefore, have a mutual interest in de-escalating tensions and exploring a fair, negotiated settlement that helps them chart a way forward,” she told the Star on Monday. 

Asked on the possible implications of the dynamics to the region, which is already unstable,  Elias said,”I think that the worry is about how it will affect other Coast boundaries that have the same system as Kenya.”

During the two-day official visit, President Kenyatta is also scheduled to participate in the Global Leaders’ high-level discussion organised by the International Peace Institute as a platform for world leaders to discuss contemporary subjects.

He will also hold bilateral talks with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Source: The Star

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