Territorial disputes: Africa (Part 16) [Post 151]

Territorial disputes in Africa: ongoing differences

The latest posts of the series TERRITORIAL DISPUTES centred on Africa and referred to their historical origins and current implications. Broadly, the United Kingdom, France and a few other non-regional powers divided the African continent following European understanding in law and politics (and, arguably, their own interests). A territory originally defined sociologically was apportioned following different criteria.

The posts will now introduce individual TERRITORIAL DISPUTES within Africa. The differences are divided into two categories:

  • First, the posts will introduce disputes between African and non-African parties.
  • Secondly, the review will centre on regional differences between African parties only.

2020 and they are still there

The times of colonialism and Empire are long gone. Or else? Surprisingly, there are still some TERRITORIAL DISPUTES in Africa that involve non-regional parties (European). Somehow, former colonial powers have still presence in Africa and dictate directly or indirectly the internal and international agenda in what geographically is a different continent, and legally and politically, a different entity.

Some of these cases have France (Banc du Geyser, Basas da India, Europa island, Juan de Nova island, Glorioso islands), Spain (Ceuta, islas Chafarinas, Melilla), and the United Kingdom (pervasive interference in many African regimes) acting in starring roles in these disputes.
From African territories completely controlled from Paris, Madrid and London to more subtle situations in which local groups are financed by the European capitals, the interference is still ongoing in many places doing very little to secure peace and legal, political, social and financial stability. It is not strange, therefore, that these central capitals label African counterparts as pseudo-states or failed states and continue with their interference under the umbrella of humanitarian intervention, humanitarian aid, and similar.

The next posts will introduce a sample of individual case studies in which non-regional parties are present.

For an up-to-date list of TERRITORIAL DISPUTES in Africa and more detailed information
CIA’s Factbook


This post is based on Jorge Emilio Núñez, Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (Routledge 2020).Previous published research monograph about territorial disputes and sovereignty by the author, Jorge Emilio Núñez, Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017.


Territorial disputes in Africa: disputes between African and non-African parties.

Monday 26th October 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World


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