Small states and the undercurrents of compliance with international law: The case of Namibia

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University of Namibia
This study examines small states’ compliance with international law, with a specific focus on Namibia. The study is based on the questions whether small states rigorously adhere to international law and whether they are different from large powerful states and what are the consequences for small states’ non-compliance with international law. The study establishes that there are instances of non-compliance with international law by both small and large states, with some large states non-compliance occurring more often compared to small states. It further concludes that measures taken against for non-compliance with international law, like economic sanctions, affect small states more compared to the impact on large states. The study adopted qualitative research methodology using both primary and secondary data collection techniques. Information gathered was analysed and assessed using legal arguments. The study found that Namibia has generally embraced international law as an integral part of its legal system and strictly adheres to it, as illustrated by the Kasikili / Sedudu Island dispute between Namibia and Botswana at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The study however found that there was a paradigm shift in Namibia’s approach towards international law, in respect of international criminal law. This is illustrated by her stance on the International Criminal Court (ICC) when she espoused selective justice approach manifesting failure and omissions to advocate compliance with international law by leaders indicted by the Court. With regard to the UN enacted laws, the study concludes that where there is non-compliance with international law by both small and large states, large states could violate international law with minimal or no consequences, while small states would face consequences, unless small states that are aligned to large states. Meanwhile, the study found that, as a small state, Namibia cannot afford the consequences of non-compliance with international law and has, therefore, endeavoured to be compliant.
A thesis submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Law (International Law)
International law, Compliance