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The relevance of the Versailles Treaty to Tanzania's case with Malawi

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Sheria (The Law Forum)' started by ngoshwe, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. ngoshwe

    ngoshwe JF-Expert Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Joined: Mar 31, 2009
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    This is part of the observation by some learned members of TLS on the border Dispute between Tanzania and Malawi as posted via members' emails . Observations and comments are invited
    Dear Colleagues,

    As World has been discussing the border dispute between Tanzania and Malawi
    our curiosity was sparked with discussions with Mr. Everard O'Donnell as we
    whole heartedly appreciate his thoughts and comments.

    The relevance of the Versailles Treaty to Tanzania's case is not even the
    late Professor Ian Brownlie discovered it and he knew more about the dispute
    than anyone else. The relevant Article was hidden away in an obscure part of
    the Treaty and the much-quoted and referred Anglo-German Agreement of 1890
    was, in fact, abrogated by the British in the Treaty of Versailles, Article
    289 as of July 10, 1920, nearly half a century before the days of

    We recite the Article for ease of reference:

    "ARTICLE 289.

    Each of the Allied or Associated Powers, being guided by the general
    principles or special provisions of the present Treaty, shall notify to
    Germany the bilateral treaties or conventions which such Allied or
    Associated Power wishes to revive with Germany.

    The notification referred to in the present Article shall be made either
    directly or through the intermediary of another Power. Receipt thereof shall
    be acknowledged in writing by Germany. The date of the revival shall be that
    of the notification.

    The Allied and Associated Powers undertake among themselves not to revive
    with Germany any conventions or treaties which are not in accordance with
    the terms of the present Treaty.

    The notification shall mention any provisions of the said conventions and
    treaties which, not being in accordance with the terms of the present
    Treaty, shall not be considered as revived.

    In case of any difference of opinion, the League of Nations will be called
    on to decide.

    A period of six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty is
    allowed to the Allied and Associated Powers within which to make the

    Only those bilateral treaties and conventions which have been the subject of
    such a notification shall be revived between the Allied and Associated
    Powers and Germany; all the others are and shall remain abrogated.

    The above regulations apply to all bilateral treaties or conventions
    existing between all the Allied and Associated Powers signatories to the
    present Treaty and Germany, even if the said Allied and Associated Powers
    have not been in a state of war with Germany."

    The OAU colonial boundary adoption that is the second line of the Malawian
    case had the wording to the effect that colonial boundaries in effect at the
    time of independence would be adhered to.

    The response of the Malawians will be that the British Orders in Council
    during the mandate used the old boundaries but those of course, were
    unilateral acts - the unusual feature of the mandate will make any
    unilateral act of the mandatory power unlikely to affect the International
    Law position which would continue to be governed by the Beagle Channel
    principle said in that case to be 'overriding'.

    Additionally, the Germans before the abrogation of the Treaty administered
    three (3) islands in the lake and ran armed forces on the lake and fortified
    riparian settlements- facts on the ground which in the absence of a treaty
    in 1920 will make the assumption of a riparian boundary of little merit.

    We have attempted to be brief nonetheless we are working on a much detailed
    paper that will be made available in due course.

    Your comments and critique is much appreciated.

    Yours Sincerely

    Meinrad D'Souza- Advocate