State succession with regard to international treaties- some theoretical observation on the practice of Anglophone Africa

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University of Dar es Salaam
This work looks at the practice of Commonwealth African States with regard to international treaties inherited from the colonial past. Though much has been written on the problem of state succession, yet no work has so far specifically and systematically looked at the practices of these states. This work therefore attempts a systematic and in-depth study of the problem of state succession as it affects the new states in Africa emerging from the colonial system. The work is divided into seven chapters; an exhaustive bibliography, and appendices. The first chapter is a short introduction reviewing the problem of state succession, and assessing the level of the debate so far. It also sets the context in which the work will proceed. The following five major chapters present a thorough treatment of the problem. Chapter Two traces the origins of international law, and the relationships that existed between Afro-Asian entities themselves, and the rest of the world. Also in this chapter the impact of the 1917 Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia on international law is examined, and also the qualitative input that Revolution has made in the whole system of international relations in the last sixty years. Also stressed here is the practice of the Soviet State with regard to the problem under study. This chapter ends by putting emphasis on the role being played in the post-war period by the new states in formulating and re-shaping international legal principles, including principles relating to state succession. With this somewhat broad perspective, the work moves on, in the third chapter, to look at the various theories of state succession current at one time or another. Since nation-states as we know them today first appeared in Europe, from where also emanated international law as is understood now, the discussion centres on different theories, a major portion of the discussion looks at contemporary theories and state practices. An attempt is also made in this chapter to look at the Marxist theory of the state and how it relates to (a) state succession and (b) to the question of international treaties. It must be pointed out, though, that this is the first treatment in the study of state succession which applies the Marxist theory of the state to this problem. Other Marxist international lawyers who have written on this problem have only looked at the practices of states without going into the theoretical postulates behind those states’ practices. An attempt was made in the early days of the Russian Revolution to go into these theoretical postulates, but that was a short-lived debate in the formulation of Soviet doctrine of international law. Chapter Four moves from the general to the particular, in that it looks at process of decolonization, and the various ways in which new states reacted to the international agreements of the colonial powers. It discusses in detail the inheritance agreements whereby the new states were required, as a condition to independence, to take over international arrangements applied to their territories prior to the achievement of Uhuru. This chapter also looks at the specific cases of Pakistan and India and the Francophonic African state. This consideration of case-studies is continued in Chapter Five, where the attainment of dominion status by the white dominions, the collapse of the Third Reich, the establishment and dissolution of the United Arab Republic, and the attainment of independence by Ireland, Israel and Somalia are also examined. It has been necessary to make a broad study of these cases in order to put into their proper context the practices of the Anglophonic African states. Chapter Six concentrates on the practices of the African Commonwealth states. It begins by discussing in detail the practice of Tanzania, since it was the first African Commonwealth state to have opted out of the then general practice of automatically taking over colonial international treaties, and to have adopted its own criteria in picking and choosing, known in the literature as the Nyerere Doctrine. The theme of this chapter is further elaborated in a consideration of the practices of the other African Commonwealth states with regard to international treaties and membership in international organisations. The work ends with an examination of the UN document on state succession, and indicates some of its weaknesses. The main thesis of the work is that decolonization should be seen in the same light as a social revolution, in that the attainment of independence as far as these African countries are concerned is not a process but an event. Hence what one sees is the birth of a completely new state, and therefore it should not be bound by the rights and duties of the colonial administration. Though of late the clean-slate principle has been accepted, it applies only to a state that is being born and not to those already existing which at the time of their independence was enmeshed in unequal treaty arrangements as a condition to Uhuru. The work ends by providing an exhaustive bibliography and appending much hither-to-unpublished materials.
State succession, Treaties, States, New
Othman, H. M. (1979) State succession with regard to international treaties- some theoretical observation on the practice of Anglophone Africa, PhD dissertation, University f Dar es Salaam. Available at