Pushing the boundaries
“As long as the world is divided into states, there will be territorial disputes,” observes Professor Malcolm Shaw QC. And as long as there are territorial disputes between states, there will be a need for specialists in international legal matters like Professor Shaw of the University of Leicester's School of Law.
Professor Shaw’s work on boundaries in Africa marked him out as an expert in his field. He was called on to work on two high profile cases: the first was a dispute between Chad and neighbour Libya; the second was on behalf of the Government of Cameroon in their dispute with Nigeria.
European powers divided the African continent up in the 19th century, basing their boundaries on convenience and intra-European relations, paying little heed to the indigenous people. But when the African states gained independence their leaders recognised that not agreeing to keep the colonial boundaries sacrosanct could result in a violent free-for-all.
These two cases have been pivotal in establishing the primacy and interpretation of boundaries treaties for the rest of the world. Professor Shaw continues to publish widely on boundary and other issues in international law, as well as producing one of the leading textbooks on the subject. He is currently working with Serbia in the advisory proceedings before the International Court concerning the declaration of independence of Kosovo in February 2008.
And his research always informs his teaching: “My work fits in very well with my teaching because I teach postgraduate modules on international boundaries, international human rights and international courts. I can use this work as case studies for my students, being in a position to discuss why governments acted as they did and how particular arguments developed.”