The Law of the Sea: A Review of Major Contributions of African States


By: Adie Edward Idagu and Nwokedi Lawretta Obiageli

Published August 2018


This paper focused on the law of the sea and the major contributions made by African states to its development. The methodology for the study was based on the secondary source of data collection from textbooks, journals, articles, online papers, etc. while neo-liberalism was adopted as theoretical framework. From the findings derived through content analysis, the paper showed that much of the studies conducted on the subject matter of the law of the sea have concentrated more on the contributions from the developed countries of the world, especially the maritime powers, to the development of the law than those by the developing nations of which Africa is part. This stemmed basically from the notion that during the first and second United Nations Conferences on the Law of the Sea the majority of African states were still under the burden of colonialism which limited their chances of meaningful participation and contributions. The paper, however, argued that in spite of this limitation, Africa’s contributions to the development of the law of the sea were noticeable, especially during the Third Conference which took place between 1973 and 1982. These were majorly in the Exclusive Economic Zone Concept, the Rights of the Landlocked Countries, the Chairing of the Committee I on deep seabed in the third Conference, etc. The findings also indicated that the law of the Sea succeeded in bringing a sigh of relief to the sea users who hitherto suffered incessant squabbles due to the absence of a regulatory framework. Finally, the paper made some recommendations. Prominent among them was that African scholars should work hard to counter the wrong narratives on the contributions of African States to the development of the legal framework for the regulation of the use of resources of the seas.

Key Words: Law of the Sea, African States, landlocked, Economic Zone, UNCLOS

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This is an open-access article published and distributed under the terms and conditions of the  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, United States unless otherwise stated.

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