15 Pages

Chad: Power Vacuum or Geopolitical Focus

Land-locked states differ from other states in one vital respect. Their physical contiguity with neighbouring states means that they are dependent on such states for access to the outside world. They do not have, in short, the type of unlimited and unconstrained access to freedom of movement on the high seas, an innate right of the majority of states, which provides them with unfettered control over commercial activity and lines of communication. The result is that such states have, as a major, if not the major, goal of their foreign policy the requirement of negotiating and maintaining transit regimes with their neighbours, usually from a position of normative diplomatic weakness. Conversely, surrounding states have the potential to seriously affect both the foreign and domestic policies of their land-locked neighbours by the way in which they respect such transit regimes, whatever the status of the legal instruments guaranteeing them in international law. Unlike the situation where a state’s maritime access to the high seas through a channel is controlled by a transit regime based on the universal right of ‘innocent passage’ under international law1 or where airspace over a particular state is governed by a similar concept,2 land­ locked states have no general international legal principle to help them in their diplomatic and commercial relations with their neighbours.