Colonial Legal Framework of International Boundary Delimitation in Somalia 1885-1960



It is now almost one hundred and thirty six years of inauguration of the Berlin East Africa Conference on 15the November 1884 through 26 February 1885. The event marked the beginning of modern state system in Africa which demanded for precise and characteristically artificial and often arbitrary territorial framework. By foregrounding these issues, this article examines and draws attention of the government of Somalia and her immediate neighbors to demarcate their borders through Joint Boundary Commission (JBC). The study therefore identified certain areas that can result to or prevent escalation of war and minimize border conflicts between Somalia and its neighbors. Thus, the study concluded by emphasizing the importance of demarcating boundaries since it is the defining feature of a state as mentioned in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the rights and duties of states. The study is Doctrinal in nature whereby various primary and second sources have been critically observed. The study therefore, recommends  that,  Government  of  Somalia  with  her  neighboring  states  should  urgently demarcate their international boundaries and try to negotiate a bid to reach everlasting agreements. In case the demarcation negotiation process fails, then the disputants should decide to  resort  to  any  alternative  resolution  mechanisms  of  their  choice  in  accordance  with international law or decide to submit their case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The colonial treaties that delimited boundaries between states would eventually prevail on the basis of the principle of ‘Uti Possidesi’ which is a policy adopted by Organization of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU) when it expressed a maiden resolution thus: ‘‘boundaries should be maintained as they were at the independence of member-states’’.

To read the full paper Click: Colonial Legal Framework of International Boundary Delimitation in Somalia 1885-1960


Ahmed Kheir Osman is a Master’s Student in Public International Law at Kampala International University (School of Law). You can leave your comments on


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