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“Lines Upon Maps”: Africa and The Sanctity of African Boundaries

“Lines Upon Maps”: Africa and The Sanctity of African Boundaries GARTH ABRAHAM * “… [Africans]”, said Julius Nyerere, sometime President of Tanzania, “must be more concerned about peace and justice … than we are about the sanctity of the boundaries we inherit.”1 With hindsight, Nyerere’s polarisation of peace and justice, on the one hand, and the sanctity of African boundaries,2 on the other, was prophetic. The 80 000 km of boundaries bequeathed to Africa by its sometime colonial masters have contributed significantly to Africa’s many problems: they unite those who should be divided and divide those who should be united; they limit access to resources that were once part of a shared heritage; and, they exacerbate economic and bureaucratic inefficiencies. The boundaries of African states, it might be argued, have served to hinder continental development. Disputes over boundaries lie at the heart of many of the manifestations of continental malaise. At best, this malaise is addressed through international adjudication.3 At worst, the 103 disputed boundaries4 might be linked, directly or indirectly, to incidences of internal and external strife that have claimed the * MA (Natal) LLB (UCT) LLM (Witwatersrand) PhD candidate (KUL); Attorney; Associate Professor of Law, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. A portion of this article is http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png African Journal of International and Comparative Law Edinburgh University Press

“Lines Upon Maps”: Africa and The Sanctity of African Boundaries

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
0954-8890
eISSN
1755-1609
DOI
10.3366/ajicl.2007.15.1.61
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

GARTH ABRAHAM * “… [Africans]”, said Julius Nyerere, sometime President of Tanzania, “must be more concerned about peace and justice … than we are about the sanctity of the boundaries we inherit.”1 With hindsight, Nyerere’s polarisation of peace and justice, on the one hand, and the sanctity of African boundaries,2 on the other, was prophetic. The 80 000 km of boundaries bequeathed to Africa by its sometime colonial masters have contributed significantly to Africa’s many problems: they unite those who should be divided and divide those who should be united; they limit access to resources that were once part of a shared heritage; and, they exacerbate economic and bureaucratic inefficiencies. The boundaries of African states, it might be argued, have served to hinder continental development. Disputes over boundaries lie at the heart of many of the manifestations of continental malaise. At best, this malaise is addressed through international adjudication.3 At worst, the 103 disputed boundaries4 might be linked, directly or indirectly, to incidences of internal and external strife that have claimed the * MA (Natal) LLB (UCT) LLM (Witwatersrand) PhD candidate (KUL); Attorney; Associate Professor of Law, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. A portion of this article is

Journal

African Journal of International and Comparative LawEdinburgh University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2007

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