Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Law (SJD)



First Advisor

Professor Dr. Christian N. Okeke

Second Advisor

Professor Sophie Clavier

Third Advisor

Professor Gustave Lele


Africa is poor in the midst of plenty. Though multiple causes and reasons may be claimed for Africa’s shrinking state of development, disruptive effects of colonialism takes forefront. Present-day Africa is literally free but colonial footprints are still apparent in the borderlands. The study pinpoints how natural borderline development was thwarted by the infamous Berlin Conference of 1884 -1885. As result, people, ethnic groups, nations and nationalities have been disintegrated. Ethnic disintegration and arbitrary colonial boundaries lines have been source of unavoidable intra and inter state conflicts in Africa. Ironically, in fear of opening “Pandora’s Box” that would further unlock unmanageable conflict, founding fathers of OAU have decided to abide by the colonial boundaries “whether they are good or bad” in Cairo Resolution of 1964, thereby suppressing Kwame Nkrumah’s vision of forming United Sates of Africa by removing colonial boundary lines. The study argues that Africa has missed the best opportunity that would avoid boundary conflict that constitutes 90% of African interstate conflicts.

This study proves deficiencies of the Cairo Declaration of 1964 that has honored colonial boundaries, as boundaries between independent African States taking Ethio-Eritrean boundary as case study. The Ethio-Eritrean boundary meant to be defined by the three successive colonial treaties of 1900, 1902, and 1908 that were concluded between Italy, Ethiopia and Great Britain, but the actual boundary line never been drawn on the ground and cannot be define in accordance with the awkward terms of the treaties. Any attempt for strict application of the elusive treaty wordings exacerbates the complexity, confusion and ultimately fuels up conflict.

The study focuses on resolving the current impasse between Ethiopia and Eritrea by drawing an acceptable boundary line through constructive dialogue. A true and acceptable boundary line cannot be drawn simply on the basis of elusive colonial treaties, but through constructive and honest dialogue. Drawing a line of separation is not a goal by itself, but it would perpetuate peace, create good neighborhood, and contribute for rebuilding sense of brotherhood by avoiding animosity and mistrust. Peaceful coexistence, coupled with effects of globalization, therefore, would stimulate economic and political integration that would ultimately remove restraining effects border walls. This will effectuate AU’s Border Program that aims to change the nature of borders from barriers to bridges thereby enable everyone to freely move all over Africa once again.

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