Last Judgment decides on dispute between Kenya and Somalia

THE HAGUE, October 12 (Reuters) – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) pronounced its verdict on Tuesday in Somalia’s case against Kenya over controversial parts of the Indian Ocean that are believed to be rich in oil and gas.

The verdict comes after Nairobi said last week it revoked the court’s recognition of jurisdiction.

Somalia submitted the case to the United Nations’ highest court for disputes between states in 2014. A decision could determine who has the rights to extract oil and gas in the deep waters off the East African coast.

The case before the ICJ, also known as the World Court, concerns a dispute over the maritime borders over more than 100,000 square kilometers (almost 40,000 square miles) of seabed, which is claimed by both countries.

In March, Kenya boycotted public hearings in The Hague.

Kenya’s Foreign Office said on Friday that it had revoked the court’s automatic recognition of jurisdiction, which means it cannot be a party in new ICJ cases without consent.

The withdrawal does not work retrospectively and has no impact on the Somalia case, ICJ spokesman Andrey Poskakukhin said on Tuesday.

The sea border dispute began in 2012 after Somalia accused Kenya of illegally granting multinationals Total and Eni exploration rights in the waters.

The extent of the hydrocarbon reserves in the disputed waters is unknown, but Kenya issued the licenses at a time when the East African coast was becoming one of the hottest oil exploration areas in the world.

World Court decisions are final. However, it has no direct means of enforcement and some states have ignored its decisions in the past.

Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Peter Graff

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