Maritime Cabotage Law

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The theory of developmental sovereignty

The theory of developmental sovereignty

One of the issues that plague the concept of maritime cabotage is that one is never sure what rationale is used to justify the adoption of a specific maritime cabotage policy. Nevertheless, the general approach is that sovereign states base their choice of maritime cabotage policy on the need to promote national economic development. If this argument is to be considered, one is perfectly entitled to argue that the measure of economic development ought to be assessed with the aim of verifying whether the choice of maritime cabotage policy has indeed on balance contributed to the desired development. If one accepts this invitation, then, the theory of developmental sovereignty provides an appropriate mechanism for measuring economic development vis-à-vis the choice of maritime cabotage approach. In doing so, it must take into consideration the processes through which rules of maritime cabotage law come into existence. The importance of this theory goes further because it provides a pathway to a common understanding of the different approaches of maritime cabotage law. This is because it is not about making law based on reciprocity, reprisal or external pressure from other states – rather, it is about the practical impact that this law has on the state. One may ask: is this not the case with all law making? The short answer is no. This is because with the law of maritime cabotage, where the rationale of economic development on which the law is premised upon either does not exist or cannot be sustained, there is no purpose or agenda that that law serves. When this occurs, the state would be effectively contributing to self-destructing her economic progress by inventing a legal instrument that hinders economic development.

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