American Professor Leads Kenya's Legal Team in Somali Boundary Case

The International Court of Justice in the Hague (ICJ)

Published Mar 1, 2021 10:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

On March 15, the oral hearing in the case of Maritime Delimitation in the India Ocean (Somalia Vs Kenya) is set to begin. Legal teams representing these countries are in top gear to prepare for the case, with Kenya naming a new team, according to The Standard.

Prof. Sean D. Murphy and Judge Tullio Treves will lead other six legal professionals in arguing Kenya’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. This team is well-acquainted with maritime disputes having represented other countries in the same court.

Prof. Murphy is a scholar of public international relations at The George Washington University Law School, where he has taught since 1998. Previously, Murphy served as a legal counselor at the U.S Embassy in The Hague, where he argued several cases before the ICJ and represented the U.S government before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

Justice Tullio Treves was a Judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea from 1996 to 2011, and he served as the President for the Seabed Disputes Chamber. Some of the notable cases he has led include France and Canada’s arbitration on the delimitation of maritime zones in the area of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. He is also the counsel for Peru in the maritime dispute with Chile, which is currently pending at the ICJ.

The other members of the team include professors Phoebe Okowa, Makane Mbengue, Laurence Boisson De Chazournes, Christian Tams and Eran Sthoeger. In addition, the experienced boundary dispute expert Coalter Lathrop will assist the team with geographic analysis and cartographic skills.

In 2014, Somalia petitioned the ICJ for a review after bilateral talks with Kenya failed to settle the maritime dispute involving a 62,000 square-mile triangle in the Indian Ocean, which is believed to be rich in hydrocarbons. In the recent past, Kenya and Somalia’s diplomatic relations have deteriorated, with Somali citing interference in its sovereign affairs by the Kenyan government.