Historical archive

Somalia submits preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of its continental shelf with Norwegian assistance

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Somalia is the first African country to submit such information. The submission was prepared with the assistance of the Government of Norway in consultation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, acting on behalf of the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic.

Somalia is the first African country to submit such information. The submission was prepared with the assistance of the Government of Norway in consultation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, acting on behalf of the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic. 

“Somalia has submitted preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of its continental shelf to the UN within the deadline required under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  This is a historic step, both in terms of Somalia’s national development and with regard to the international legal order,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. 

“This clarification of responsibility and authority in maritime areas in accordance with international law is decisive for potential future resource management and thus for the welfare of future generations. The Somali submission therefore also sends an important signal to other States that developing countries where there is protracted armed conflict can comply with the requirements of international law,” said Minister of the Environment and International Development Erik Solheim. 

Somalia was given until May 2009 to submit documentation of the extent of its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from its coastline. Developing countries that face particular challenges in collecting data may submit preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of their continental shelf – thereby meeting the deadline. Somalia is the first country to do so. 

No final position is taken on the outer limits of the continental shelf in the information submitted. However, the documentation provided is indicative of a continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the coastline. It establishes that submissions made by neighbouring States shall be without prejudice to the future delimitation of maritime boundaries, which must be subject to negotiations. 

“The Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic has taken a significant step towards safeguarding the interests of future generations of Somalis,” said Foreign Minister Støre. 

Neither the Norwegian Government nor Norwegian companies have interests of their own in the area. The assistance provided by Norway to the SRSG for Somalia and the Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic must be seen in the context of Norway’s commitment to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the situation in the country, and as an expression of Norway’s support to the SRSG in carrying out his mandate in accordance with Security Council resolutions. 

Somalia, which has one of the longest coastlines of all the African countries, has been plagued by civil war and widespread human suffering for nearly two decades. Moreover, the waters off the coast of Somalia have been the scene of piracy against international shipping since 2007. 

The submission has been prepared with the assistance of international law experts in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, experts in the geosciences in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and experts from the UNEP Shelf Programme, represented by GRID-Arendal. Norway has a similar assistance programme in the West African countries, in cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 

The Transitional Federal Government of the Somali Republic and the President gave their final approval on 6 April 2009 following meetings in Mogadishu attended by Ambassador Hans Wilhelm Longva of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.