Territorial disputes: Africa (Part 17) [Post 152]

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

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.

Banc du Geyser

The Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean (French: Îles Éparses or Îles Éparses de l’océan Indien) consist of four small coral islands, an atoll, and a reef in the Indian Ocean, and have constituted the 5th district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF) since February 2007. They have never had a permanent population. France and the Comoros view the Banc du Geyser as part of the Glorioso Islands.
France and the Comoros claim the Banc du Geyser as part of their exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The reef is also claimed by Madagascar. From the French point of view, it is part of the EEZ of Glorioso Islands, one of their scattered islands in the Indian Ocean. Madagascar announced its annexation in 1976.

In 2011, the Organization of Emerging African States (OEAS) published a Memorandum on the Admission of the United Micronations Multi-Oceanic Archipielago (UMMOA) in which the parties expressely considered the environmental importance and the disputed status of Banc du Geyser, Indian Ocean Island, which is claimed by France, Madagascar, the Comoros, and the UMMOA.

All of claiming parties, more than an ecological interest, seek economic gain that might come out of the soil exploitation, because there is talk of a possibility of nearby oil fields existence. The Union of the Comoros argues that it is located within the 200 miles of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ); while from the French point of view this reef is one of the Scattered Islands in the Indic Ocean belonging to the French Southern and Antarctic Lands district, which enlarges the French exclusive economic zone in the Indic Ocean.Currently, there is no arbitration being done by any official organizations to settle the boundaries between the French ZEE, the Comoros Union or Madagascar in the region.

Îles Éparses de l’océan Indien Link to the complete document
The World Factbook (pdf) Link to the complete document

Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean Link to the complete document
UMMOA Memorandum (2011) Link to the complete document
Submarine Biodiversity RichnessLink to the complete document


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: France in Africa.

Tuesday 27th October 2020

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World


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