TOPIC 5 Legal Imperatives of Delimiting African Waters

1.      The delimitation of maritime boundaries remains one of the most complex areas in international law which has attracted economic, political, security, national and other regional interests and often result in disputes. The essence and meaning of delimitation of maritime boundaries rests in the fact that it helps fix and identify the boundaries of the territorial sovereignty of a state and its jurisdiction. The United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) is recognized as a global legal regime on sea matters. The convention contains provisions on the definition and recognition of what constitutes maritime boundaries and zones, internal waters, territorial waters etc. The convention further outlines the rights and obligations of states in managing and governing their maritime activities and their exploitation of the resource. The appropriate delimitation of maritime boundaries has a lot of legal, economic, strategic and environmental implications. This is the reason why nations do everything in their powers to maintain and protect their maritime boundaries as conceding any part thereof might mean loss of economic resources and threat to the security of the state.

2.      Despite the provisions of UNCLOS, boundary issues still exists. At the moment, the African continent is wrapped up with lots of maritime boundaries disputes which if left unsolved will jeopardize the continent’s implementation of both local, regional and international maritime polices and strategies. An example of such policies is the African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety and Development which aims to solidify African’s commitment to an efficient and effective management of its ocean and seas.

To this end and without prejudice to the maritime zones as established by the UNCLOS regime, there will be a need for Africa to implement the Combined Exclusive Maritime Zone for Africa (CEMZA) which is defined as a common maritime zone of all AU Member States. The CEMZA is to be a stable, secure and clean maritime zone in the view of developing and implementing common African maritime affairs policies for the management of African oceans, seas and inland waterways resources as well as for its multifaceted strategic benefits. The CEMZA will grant Africa enormous cross-cutting geostrategic, economic, political, social and security benefits, as well as minimize the risks of all transnational threats including organized crime and terrorism in Africa. In the light of the above, the paper shall cover the following:

  1. The Overview of African Maritime Boundaries Dispute.
  2. Issues Arising from the Process of Delimiting African Waters.
  3. Legal Implications of Delimitation.
  4. Resolving Maritime Boundary Issues in African.

Presentation Paper : Topic 5

TOPICS FOR PRESENTATION The 6 topics for presentation at the SPAS 2021 and the respective focus areas are further discussed.


National Hydrographic Capacities As Catalyst For Credible Ocean Governance


Tackling Emerging Maritime Security Challenges through Collaborative Regional Framework


Ocean Governance and the Blue Economy: The Critical Nexus



Integrating MDA in Africa Maritime Security Architecture


Legal Imperatives of Delimiting African Waters


African Regional Maritime Cooperation: Challenges and Future Perspectives

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