Interrogating an african approach to maritime boundary delimitation between adjacent coastal states under Article 83(1) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
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A natural prolongation of a State's boundary envisioned by the 1945 Truman Declaration favoured a unilateral approach to maritime delimitation proclaiming that 'coastal States have an entitlement to neighbouring seabed areas whether they are in a position to vindicate the claim or not'. 1 Although an attractive form of appropriation of the common heritage of mankind,2 the Declaration is in no way reflective of the dynamics of Third World States, landlocked, and geographically disadvantaged States, unlike Article 83( 1) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (herein UNCLOS).3 One of the major concerns that was brought to the fore at The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) was the initial lack of participation by the newly independent Third World States in the delimitation of maritime boundaries. This study shall evaluate whether the application of Article 83( 1) by international institutions in respect of adjacent coastal African States is indicative of a common African approach to the delimitation of the continental shelf. This study recommends that the regime of international law ought to be more receptive of the effects of equity as demonstrated by international institutions discussed herewith, especially in the adoption of equitable principles in achieving a just global standard. Even though the African approach strives for an equitable standard, those coastal States that prefer (based on their relevant circumstances) the adoption of one of the various technical methods, can employ it through peaceful negotiations and international adjudication.