By Abdulkadir Salad Elmi
More than half of Somalia is made up of seas that surround the entire country. The captain of a fishing vessel who wants to enter Somali waters and believes that it is not necessary to have the required permit under national or international law because the vessel's flag State has not recognized the legitimacy of a given Somali government or simply because no one had responded to an entry demand, he would be wrong, and he would have to stay out of Somali waters, whatever the cost.
Many people don't seem to understand, or refuse to understand, that more than half of Somalia is made up of seas that surround the entire country. This makes the oceans vital to the survival of the Somali population.
Somalia's territorial waters (TA), declared in 1972, consist of an area of 825,052 km2. In 1989, the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) overlaps with the same area as the TA. An additional 55,895 km2 of the continental shelf area (CPZ) constitutes the marine territory of Somalia.
The sum of the total internal surface of Somalia, of 637,657 km2, together with the TA and the EEZ, make up a total of 1,462,709 km2, which added to the ZPC is 1,518,604 km2.
With these figures we hope to show the importance of marine waters for the people of Somalia and also why vested interests are trying to get their hands on these waters, thereby trying to roll back the interests of the Somali people.
The legal regime
Somalia has 200 nautical miles (NM) of territorial waters, based on Law No. 37 of the Territorial Sea and Ports, of September 10, 1972. This law clearly establishes that fishing in territorial waters and the regular transport of people and goods between Somali ports is reserved for ships flying the Somali flag, and other vessels licensed with the license and permission of the legitimate Somali government and not by a regional government.
States like the US do not like to recognize and / or respect this law and pressure the States to renounce their 200NM of territorial waters established with the instruments of the law. Meanwhile, for reasons of national sovereignty or security, the US has not yet ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and lobbied for its provisions to be amended, as they would otherwise be limited Your rights.
Many peoples and states around the world do not like that the US does not abide by many international laws or conventions such as the ban on landmines. A vast majority of towns and states want the US to repeal national laws that impose the death penalty, yet the country enforces its own laws on its territory.
In the same way, they would have to tolerate at least Somalia applying its own laws on its territory. Americans would never give up an ounce of national sovereignty unless they thought they could win it back - with a small piece of sovereignty from other states. Just look at the farce of the Organization of American States. The plan was to include Latin America and Canada within a neo-imperial agreement with 'USAMERICA' as the heart and the rest of the two continents of North and South America as dependent on the economic periphery under the patronage 'USAMERICAN' to maintain oriented economies to primary export focused by industry. This regime, which was disgustingly parasitic on the part of the US, but grossly efficient at dominating the world for the past 60 years, has persisted.
The US was the first country to expand its territorial waters beyond the common idea of the old world states, which had claimed since medieval times only three nautical miles (the distance in which it could be executed by a shot from cannon on land) as its territory in the sea. Using the international customary law principle of a nation's right to protect its natural resources, in 1945 President Truman extended US control to all natural resources on its continental shelf. Other nations were quick to follow suit. Between 1946 and 1950, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Ecuador extended their rights to a distance of 200 NM to cover their fishing areas of the Humboldt Current. Other nations extended their territorial sea to 12 nautical miles. In 1967, only 25 countries continued to use the old three-mile limit, while 66 countries had established a 12-mile territorial limit and eight had established - like Somalia in 1972 - a 200-mile limit. As of May 28, 2008, only two countries still use the three-mile limit: Jordan and the Palau Islands. The boundary is also used in some Australian islands, an area of Belize, some Japanese Straits, some areas of Papua New Guinea, and some British overseas territories such as Anguilla.
The visionary expansion of the 200MN territorial waters by Somalia and other states therefore has legitimacy and - although perhaps belittled by piracy - it is also the expression of taking responsibility. Despite the current deplorable state of security in Somalia, the idea that the Somali people will once again have the strength to fulfill their responsibility to rule the Somali seas at a distance of 200 NM, must and cannot be neglected.
Somalia Law No. 37 also regulates the so-called "innocent passage" of foreign merchant ships, which can only be admitted if the State whose flag the ship flies is recognized by Somalia and if the Somali authorities have at least been informed and have not formulated no objection to approval. Illegal arms transport, such as that allegedly carried out by MV Faina, French oil exploration research vessels or illegal foreign flag fishing vessels in Somali waters have undoubtedly violated this basic Somali law.
Article 10 of Somalia Law No. 37 also stipulates since 1972 that: "Foreign warships are not allowed to pass through the territorial sea (200NM) unless authorized by the Government of Somalia." That was and is the rule and has been compulsorily respected internationally from 1972 to 1991.
However, a non-existent letter, purportedly signed by the former Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of President Abdullahi Yussuf, or illegally signed in a later version - signed by the non-Somali Ould-Abdallah, who will nonetheless celebrate Somali governmental powers - It certainly has no legal significance in relation to such "permits" or requests, which makes the current occupation of Somalia's waters by the naval navy also illegal. Although everyone clearly agrees that piracy has to end and sees the need to curb piracy and other crimes on the high seas, as well as within Somalia's territorial waters, one has to realize that an injustice it cannot be contained with another injustice. Meanwhile, it has become clear to anyone that piracy off the coast of Somalia and maritime crime committed by Somalis cannot be exterminated by a naval army that violates the rights and sovereignty of Somalia and Somalis. Laws are made and must be enforced to prevent and fight injustices, but not to create new injustices.
Somalia has an exclusive economic zone of 200MN based on the United Nations Law for the Common Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) derived from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in which Somalia is one of the first 40 signatories , and which was ratified by the Somali Parliament on July 24, 1989 - five years before the required number of signatory countries became applicable. The convention entered into force on November 16, 1994 and will therefore bind all signatory states - even if they have not recognized subsequent governments of Somalia after January 6, 1991. Even though some states held that there was no "legitimate government and recognized Somalia ", this does not mean that the legal regime of the persistence of national legislation and international laws - such as the Convention - are no longer applicable. It is very simple to understand: If you knock on the door of a house that is not yours and nobody welcomes you inside, you certainly do not have the right to enter just because nobody answers you. In the same way, if for example the captain of a fishing vessel wants to enter Somali waters and believes that it is not necessary to have the required permit according to national or international law because the State of the vessel's flag has not recognized the legitimacy of a given Somali government or simply because no one had responded to an entry demand, he would be wrong, and he would have to stay out of Somali waters, whatever the cost.
Never mind that some states and groups try to create the impression that Somalia does not have an EEZ, arguing that the maps in question are not displayed on the UN website. The Somali government has declared its exclusive economic zone and the relevant letters have been in Mogadishu and also in the United Nations offices since before the war. It is not the fault of the Somalis if the UN has misplaced them.
However, the key issue here is that Somalia has declared its exclusive economic zone on the basis of and in conjunction with its signature and ratification of the Convention in 1989. The concept of exclusive economic zone cannot and should not be used to reduce Somalia's rights over its waters.
Somalia has a CSZ of 350MN, based on international law and Somalia's claim documented and delivered by Somalia on April 17, 2009 to the United Nations and the International Seabed Authority before the deadline of May 13, 2009. The establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200NM is the right of all coastal states under international law. That there could be questions about how the law will be used and interpreted in making binding agreements regarding specific boundaries is despite the fact that boundaries (for example, between Kenya and Somalia, or between Djibouti and Somalia) have been and are clear since Somalia signed and ratified the Convention in 1989. Attempts to twist or alter these memoranda, which, as in the case of Kenya, were instigated by Norwegian interests, should be a warning.
Somali sovereignty, marine and maritime rights
While the AU (African Union) and states such as Indonesia and Germany respect the Somalia Law of the Sea and the exclusive economic zone of Somalia, countries such as Spain or Italy only indirectly respect this legal regime by having instructed their vessels to remain outside of the 200MN area, while Spanish or Italian vessels owned under the flag of convenience, like many others, continue to poach fish in Somalia waters.
But even states like France, which from the beginning tried to maintain the argument that the maps of the Convention-EEZ do not appear on the website of the Convention, so that Somalia should not have an exclusive economic zone, by means of a declaration of its President Nicolas Sarkozy - given during a meeting in Libya - officially declared that France now also respects the 200MN zone of Somalia. The fact that the European Union (the conglomerate of the old world countries) shares its economic zone does not affect Somalia, but the reason why Norway did not join the EU as a member was interesting.
But what are Norway (and other actors such as the EU and IMO-International Maritime Organization) trying to manifest with the "reestablishment" of Somalia's exclusive economic zone and its unjustified "aid" if not to follow the line marked by the US? It would force Somalis to abolish the Somali Law on the Sea and its Territorial Waters 200MN, as well as brush and forget under the rug all cases of violations of Somalia law that have been documented over the years. last 20 years. All cases in the last 20 years - in which Somalia was unable to defend its rights - should be dropped, as they argue that this new "formal establishment of an exclusive economic zone" means that it had not occurred before the EEZ, which it just isn't true.
Many were present in Mogadishu in the years prior to 1991 and continue to live as key witnesses to events, when delegation after delegation from other countries tried to coerce or convince the Siad Barre government to end the Somalia Law on the Sea and its 200MN provisions because they wanted unhindered access to Somali waters and its resources.
Laws of states like Somalia and Peru led the international community to realize that it would be a good idea to have the marine waters governed by the coastal states to which they belonged. This gave rise to the legal provisions found today in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the basic idea of creating an EEZ of 200MN for all coastal states, and establishing provisions for those who had not yet declared a 200MN zone. Changing this now and going against one of the founding countries should be seen as a scandalous act of aggression.
Today, after 20 years of civil war, and while the Somali government and the Somali population, who have never in Somalia's history been so weak and vulnerable, external forces believe that they have an ideal moment before them to push for change. in the history of legal law solely for their own interests.
Let us not forget that the only interest the Norwegian state machine has in Somalia is potential oil reserves and fisheries resources. This is especially true with offshore oil concessions, where they believe they can gain an advantage over the French, who already have secret contracts in connection with offshore drilling in Somali waters. That the Norwegians actually helped beat the May 13, 2009 deadline, which the International Authority had set for the declaration of interests in the CSZ, should not lead to a situation where the Somalis are blindfolded to waive other rights.
Although the new regulations of 350MN of continental shelf plus Somalia's rights have been manifested, this should not lead to a situation where an extension of certain limited rights is negotiated as a weakening of the rights base at the rear. This makes the US unhappy with those states, who based on international and national law can refute the US Navy's right to sail off the coasts of a sovereign state, a fact that has been manifested recently in a near-fatal confrontation between China and the US in the South China Sea.
Likewise, the Indonesian delegate to the United Nations stated at the UN that the Southeast Asian nation has joined the Security Council's efforts to tackle piracy incidents off the Somali coast by adopting the resolutions of the UN 1816, 1836 and 1846. However, the delegate stressed that resolutions to address piracy should not affect the rights, obligations or responsibility of States under international law, since first of all sovereignty must be respected of a nation.
Somalia has an area of 200MN of territorial waters, like the recognized national states of Benin, Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Liberia and Peru. In Peru these provisions are contained in the Constitution.
The maritime domain and the right to exercise sovereignty and jurisdiction should not be abandoned by Somalia, especially since the 1952 Santiago Declaration in its preamble states that "governments are obliged to ensure their peoples access to necessary food and provide them with the means of development of their economy.The declaration also states that the economic zone should extend no less than 200NM from the coast.
The 1970 Declaration of the Latin American States on the Law of the Sea added that the decision to extend jurisdiction beyond the limits of the territorial sea was the consequence of "the dangers and damages resulting from indiscriminate and abusive practices in the extraction of marine resources "as well as" the use of the marine environment "that gives rise to" serious dangers of water pollution and the alteration of the ecological balance ".
The natural resources of the Somali seas are the only assets for a prosperous future for the Somali people, which is why even the African Union during the 1990s, the Maputo Declaration and the Cape Town conferences on the development of The coasts of Africa clearly urged the world to respect Somalia's exclusive economic zone. Anyone who says that Somalia does not have an EEZ is not only slapping the Somali people in the face, but also all the nations of the African Union.
Watch out for the Norwegian wolves or their Somali "counterpart" Warabe who appear under the skin of a lamb posing as a friend. Let us stand up to stand strong in the defense of the sovereignty of Somalia as a whole, including its waters and natural resources.
That we have yet to find a solution to internal problems by strengthening regional and local governments in order to regain our unity, are issues that correspond to our own internal affairs and will not affect the legal provisions of international relevance. Somalia's problems must not give reasons for disrespecting our common goods or weakening our common defense against any external aggressor.
Even when we are on our knees and have to ask for help, the international community has to first respect Somalia's sovereignty and its laws before they can be accepted as friends. Gifts in the form of Trojan horses should be dismissed and those who conspire with such scams should be seen for what they are: traitors and enemies of the Somalis.
Dr. Abdulkadir Salad Elmi - Somali writer, collaborates with various media such as Somalitalk. He originally wrote this article for ECOTERRA International and it has been republished by the Somalitalk newspaper.
Translation of Africaneando - http://africaneando.org / http://www.revistapueblos.org