Kenya picks up eight lawyers in the maritime border case against Somalia
NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenya has chosen a battery of eight judges before the marine border case with the Indian Ocean with Somalia, which will begin on March 15, after several rounds of launches, which could otherwise shape the relationship between the two nations.
Two weeks ago, the International Court of Justice [ICJ] sitting in The Hague refused to acknowledge Kenya’s fourth request for a postponement and argued that the country should now be prepared to have the issue resolved as soon as possible for the sake of continuity.
Prior to that, Kenya had secured three launches to Somalia’s disappointment, insisting that Nairobi is out to delay the matter. Nairobi had cited the COVID-19 pandemic and the mysterious disappearance of a map as some of the latest obstacles.
The legal team includes a former judge at an international court and a senior lecturer in the United Kingdom in a team of eight employed to defend Kenya in a maritime dispute filed by Somalia.
Prof Sean Murphy of the George Washington School of Law will lead the team with Justice Tullion Treves, a former judge at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea. Justice Treves also appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a similar case where Peru v. Chile.
Prof Phoebe Okowa, senior lecturer in international law at Queen Mary University in London, is the only Kenyan. She was part of a maritime target that Gambia filed against Myanmar. She is an alumnus of the University of Nairobi where she graduated with first class awards.
The team also includes Prof Makane Mbengue, a Senegalese who teaches international law at the University of Geneva. He also has disputes before the ICJ, including representing the African Union in advising on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chago archipelago from Mauritius in 1965. He will be the legal coordinator.
From the same university (Geneva) is Professor Laurence Boisson De Chazournes who is also an international legal expert. She has two nationalities – Swiss and French.
Another member of the team is Christian Tams, a professor at Gasglow University. The German citizen will give his expertise after appearing before the same court in different cases.
Kenya has also taken Eran Sthoeger from Israel. He also took part in Peru’s case against Chile. The list also includes the president of the Sovereign Geographic Coalter Lathrop. He will offer cartographic and legal assistance to Kenya’s border and land demarcation team.
The team replaces lawyers Karim Khan, Payam Akhavan (American), Makena Muchiri (Kenya), Vaughan Lowe QC (British), Alan Boyle (British), Mathias Forteau (French) and Amy Sanders (British).
Kenya’s marine area is approximately 255,000 km, which was determined by parallel latitude in 1979. Somalia recognized Kenya’s claim to the EEZ for 35 years.
In 2014, however, the Horn of Africa handed over a case to the International Court of Justice. The dispute was filed by Somalia’s Foreign and Investment Minister Abdirahman Dualeh on August 28, 2014 on behalf of his government.