International Law Discussion Group (ILDG)

Event Name International Law Discussion Group (ILDG)
Start Date 22nd Oct 2014 4:00pm
End Date 22nd Oct 2014 6:00pm
Duration 2 hours

Everyone welcome to the International Law Discussion Group next meeting.

This time we are pleased to introduce: Major Chanju S Mwale, Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Legal Officer for the Malawi Defence Force, and United Nations-Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellow.

Presenting: "Access to the Sea for Southern Africa's Landlocked States: Malawi, (Zambia and Zimbabwe) Dependence or Cooperation?"

A landlocked country is defined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as a State that has no sea coast. In practical terms, landlocked countries are located in the interior of continents, hundreds or even thousands of kilometers from maritime ports. The United Nations recognises the existence of 32 developing countries as belonging to the group of landlocked States (LLS): 16 are located in Africa, 12 in Asia, 2 in Latin America and 2 in Central and Eastern Europe. These are countries harbouring serious constraints on the overall socio-economic development front due to lack of territorial access to the sea, remoteness and isolation from world markets causing high transit and transportation costs. These countries are among the poorest of the developing countries, with the exception of a few located in Europe.

The right to pass through other countries, the freedom of transit in order to have access to the sea and passage rights across the territories of states have been the subject of various international conferences and several international conventions which form the basis for the principle of freedom of transit; transit across other states’ territories to access international markets and transport services is an essential condition for the integration into the international economy for land locked states. The remoteness from major world markets is the principal reason why many landlocked countries have not been very successful in mitigating consequences caused by their geographical disadvantage. Given the long distances and the nature of their exports, which are dominated by low-value bulky commodities, freight and related transit costs are burdensome relative to the value of exports. The additional costs incurred together with problems of distance, make imports more expensive and render exports less competitive, thus putting landlocked countries at a disadvantage in the global economy.

This paper looks into the existing legal infrastructure which provides for the facilitation of the transit regime for landlocked States and examines the implementation efforts from the global, regional as well initiatives that have translated to the national level. The research paper discusses the various challenges which are faced by the aforementioned landlocked States and aims as at proposing possible solutions from the lacunaeidentified in the facilitation of the right to transit. 

Drinks and nibbles to be provided, we will see you there!