Norway Defines Role in Resolving Kenya-Somalia Maritime Boundary Conflict

Norway’s earlier involvement in the disagreements triggered heated diplomatic outcries from Nairobi, alleging that Norwegian businesses spurred legal tussles.

“We have zero bilateral issues. Rather, we share common concerns about global and regional matters,” the Minister disclosed during a speech at the University of Nairobi on Thursday. The occasion marked six decades of diplomatic ties, with Norway refuting any misconduct at that time.

“Our conversation will focus on bolstering our cooperation concerning Sudan, South Sudan, the Horn of Africa, DRC, and on a larger scale, global reforms like those of the UN and the international financial system,” he explained.

Norwegian diplomat Hans Wilhelm Longva crafted a 2009 MoU under Norway’s “technical assistance” program to African nations. Somalia dismissed the MoU despite initial agreement. When Nairobi resisted the ICJ’s case, the court stated that the MoU lacked bilateral negotiation, rendering it non-binding for Somalia or Kenya.

ICJ Vice President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf suggested Kenya and Somalia should’ve used their own legal advisors for drafting. “No state today can sign a bilateral legal agreement it hasn’t scrutinized or contributed to,” he noted, in reference to the 2009 MoU intended for the UNCLOS.

As the case unfolded, accusations emerged against Norwegian firms for allegedly nudging Somalia into litigation, spurred by interests in gas exploration within the disputed maritime area. However, the gas turned out to be impractical.

In Nairobi, Eide discussed Kenya and Norway’s joint effort for global harmony and asserted his country’s allies’ double standards complicate peacemaking, including regional peace endeavors.

Mr. Eide lauded Kenya’s regional peacemaking efforts as vital since unrest in the volatile area inevitably impacts Nairobi. His discourse drifted towards current conflicts like Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan, and the DRC.

“I’ve vocally criticized my Western counterparts for inconsistency… Key nations claim principles aren’t universally enforced, which negates their existence,” he warned.

He emphasized that principles must be uniformly applied across the globe, spotlighting issues in Ukraine and Gaza. Both clashes dominate global focus but have garnered inconsistent responses from the West. While they condemned Russia’s Ukraine invasion, they’ve been less proactive against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Mr. Eide criticized Israel’s lack of distinction between militants and civilians, breaking the proportionality concept essential in warfare—which restricts force to necessary amounts.

“Palestinians endure dire suffering due to Israel’s response to Hamas’s initial terror attack. Yet, all military action should abide by humanitarian laws, which Israel clearly violates,” he asserted while evading the genocide debate. Instead, he deferred judgment to South Africa’s filed case against Israel.

He stressed equal application of war rules, seeking fair punishment for violators. The US supported the ICC’s indictment of Russian leaders but reacted negatively when Israeli leaders faced similar charges, even threatening ICC officials with sanctions.

Norway and Kenya both advocate development within a rules-based multilateral framework. Current anarchy arises from actors exploiting lenient consequences.

“Kenya and Norway collaborate on peacebuilding in Sudan, South Sudan, the Horn of Africa, DRC, and neighboring regions. Consistency and principles are essential for these crises,” he remarked.

He acknowledged that global preoccupation with Gaza and Ukraine sidelines other crises, especially in Africa. The Sudanese conflict predates Gaza’s but world leaders failed to broker peace, resulting in ongoing turmoil and approximately 18,000 deaths since fighting continued between the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces.

This year celebrates 60 years of Norway-Kenya diplomatic relations, addressing challenges from poverty and the Cold War to climate change and political instability today.

“Key issues crucial to humanity demand international collaboration. Unfortunately, geopolitical rivalry hampers this. Trust in multilateral institutions is paramount to save lives, boost economies, and help countries flourish—making us thrive as well,” he concluded.

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