Hargeisa, Somaliland, February 13, 2017 – In a letter to the UN Secretary-General signed by President Sillanyo on Saturday, February 11, 2017, the Government of Somaliland asserts its sovereign rights under international law and announces a new 24-nautical mile Contiguous Zone in addition to the 12-mile Territorial Sea and a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The new Contiguous Zone and #EEZ will enable Somaliland to better police maritime territory and combat crime, including in relation to customs, immigration, and people and arms trafficking; protect natural resources, such as fisheries and oil and gas deposits belonging to the people of Somaliland; and support international efforts to promote peace and security in the Gulf of Aden.
The maritime zones will be carried into law in accordance with the #Somaliland Constitution. In due course, the Government will submit the geographical coordinates and a chart delineating the zones to the #UN Secretary-General. The Government will also communicate its decision to neighboring states and other interested parties through diplomatic channels.
Today’s Declaration makes it clear that Somaliland repudiates Somalia’s 2014 EEZ proclamation that purports to lay claim to Somaliland’s waters and will exercise control over its sovereign territory to the fullest extent possible. This follows the decision by the Somaliland people in 1991 to exercise their inalienable right of self-determination, withdraw from their failed union with Somalia and restore independence won from Britain in 1960.
The 2001 Somaliland Constitution lays claim to the islands, the Territorial Sea, and the continental shelf. Under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a state is entitled to declare a series of maritime zones, including a 12-mile Territorial Sea, a 24-mile Contiguous Zone, a 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone, and the continental shelf beyond it, subject to delimitation through negotiation with neighboring states. Different legal regimes apply to each zone.