Introduction: Africa: Mapping New Boundaries in International Law

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Africa is a market place, not a basket case. African states, intergovernmental organizations, and civil society institutions have contributed to the evolution of the corpus of international law by confirming the existence of norms through formal and informal law-making processes and have been fashioning new regimes through state practice and treaty-making. To paraphrase the theme of this annual meeting, the meaning, impact, and relevance of international law in Africa arc the focus of public and private attention as never before. Unlike in any other period in modern African history, African states are re-examining the content and operation of international law, demonstrating that in Africa, and hence the world, international law is substantially shifting. The purpose of this panel is to examine the extent to which African state practice and treaty law developments have contributed to mapping new boundaries in international law. At the heart of the panel lies the need for a historical corrective and puncturing of the inherent Eurocentric bias in modern international law. In other words, the panel challenges predominant notions in legal academia that the nations of the Western hemisphere are solely to be credited with originating and spurring the law de lege lata and de lege fernda. Indeed, Europe has made novel contributions to classical and modern international law; however, the contemporary logic of morality found in much of the modem international natural law philosophy has been shaped by internal and external responses to the dynamics of African state systems since decolonization.