analysis of the right of access to information under Nigerian law

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1.1    Background of the Study

The Charter of the United Nations was signed on the 26th of June, 1945 in San Francisco United States of America. The Charter came into force on the 24th of October, 1945[1] . Sequel to the meeting and signing of the Charter, many meetings were held at various places[2] as a result of what was considered to be threat to the international community. This threat had its own origin from what happened immediately after the First World War and indeed, during the Second World War. For example, the world-wide economic recession of the late twenties and thirties, the risk in popularity of anti democratic and nationalist doctrines, the disintegration and collapse of the League of Nations. Others included aggressive force of Italian fascism, German Nazism and Japanese militarism. All these were recognized as threats to the international peace and security, which needed to be stamped out for peace and security of the International community.

In several meetings that were held, member states agreed that complete victory over their enemies was a necessary prerequisite for the defense of life, liberty, independence, religious freedom and for the preservation of human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other places. They also agreed to engage in a common struggle against savage and brutal forces seeking to subjugate the world[3] . By the Declaration, each signatory government pledged itself to employ its full resources, military and economic, against those members of the tripartite pact and its adherents with which such governments were at war and to cooperate with Governments signatories thereto, and not to make separate armistice or peace with enemies.

However, during the preparation of the Charter, Member States agreed to draw a line between activities, which were regarded as purely domestic, and those, which were within the realm of international domain. So at the end, the principle of non-intervention was inserted into the United Nations Charter. Thus, Article 2 of the UN Charter provides inter alia that:

“Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter.[4] ” This is what is commonly known as the principle of non-intervention. Since then the principle have

been abused by international community.

1.2    Statementof the Problem

Since the signing of the United Nations Charter on October 24, 1945 illegal intervention of one state by another at international level seems to have continued unchecked. Since human activities are not static but flexible, there occurred many changed circumstances, interests and priorities. Many concepts, ideologies, philosophies and norms have evolved under international law. These have  called for a review of the old initial idea or conception of the principle of non-interference5 69 years after the signing and coming into effect of the principal Charter of the United Nations. For example in 1945, the priority of the United Nations was how to prevent further international wars, how to promote international peace and security by way of coming together of the international community and to agree on peace agenda which was thought to be the only panacea for

peace and security.

However, between 1945 and now (year 2014) many international events took place which, though not totally overtaking the original  concerns of the United Nations but are equally fundamental to international peace and security. These include the idea of fundamental human rights and basic freedoms, the principle of humanitarian law (arm conflicts), the need for democracy and good governance, the problem of multiple party system and the principle of self determination. Recently, coup d‟etats, elections, have called for illegal intervention of the United Nations or firstworld countries into the domestic  activities of the third world countries. Thus, in recent times, we have noticed that there is a deepening or widening concept of what was originally conceived as non-intervention and what the present conception of the principle of non-intervention means such as political, economic and diplomatic pressures. Therefore, the task of this work is to examine states practices as they affect the principle of nonintervention.


1.3  Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of this research is to examine critically the principle of nonintervention in international law with a view to realizing the following

objectives: –

  1. To what extent has the principle of non-intervention been abused?
  2. To make recommendations or suggestions, as to how to review the law of non-intervention.

1.4    Scope of the Study

The scope of the research is principally confined to the principle of non-intervention as enshrined in Art. 2(7) of the UN charter, basically by considering the words and sprit of the charter. This does not preclude the application of international norms and treaties as well as domestic legislations to the discussion of the principle, including the interpretations by law courts and arguments of various writers.

1.5    Literature Review

By the provisions of Art. 2(7) of the UN charter of 1945, forbid all states or groups of states to intervene directly or indirectly in the internal or external affairs of other states[5] .This is what scholars, writers and judicial decisions termed as principle of non-intervention. In many text books of international law, one finds discussions, by learned scholars[6] , and decisionsby law courts on principle of non- intervention. According to

Hingorani, R.C., “interference has got to be dictatorial in order to constitute intervention.[7] ” Further, the learned author concluded that ………if it is not dictatorial, it does not amount to intervention. It is most respectfully submitted that, there are interventions that are not dictatorial but are recognized by the UN and international community. Example, humanitarian intervention.

However to Professor Richard J.E., the principle prohibits “not only armed intervention, but all direct or indirect intervention of a political or economic nature and political or economic pressure aimed at preventing peoples from choosing their social system or from taking economic measures to further interest in their own country[8] .With due respect to the learned author there are some interventions that are legal, for example intervention by request to the legitimate authorities against insurgents, whatever the effect which that help may have on the political future of the state[9] .

Yet, again according to another authority Professor Shaw while explaining the principle of domestic jurisdiction states that “it follows from the nature of sovereignty of states that “while a state is supreme internally, that is within its territorial frontiers, it must not intervene in the domestic affairs of another nation.” According to him, this duty of non-intervention within the domestic jurisdiction of states provides for the shielding of certain states activities from the regulation of international law[10] .

However, the influence of international law is beginning to make itself felt in areas hitherto as subject to the state‟s exclusive jurisdiction through adopting resolutions by UN relating to the internal policies of member states. For example, the treatment by a country of its own nationals is now viewed in the context of international human rights regulations.

Also, Umozurike[11] while making a general examination of nature of politics under international law considered that non- intervention doctrine has for a very longtime being on the discussion in the history of international law this is so when he said:- “the new states…….jealous of

their sovereignty and in order to protect themselves from the meddlesomeness of their former colonial masters, they emphasized the principle of exclusive jurisdiction…….. ” It is submitted that, even though the explanation by the learned author relates to non-intervention because he discussed the issue of sanctity of every polity. The discussion was not directly on non-intervention, despite the fact that, the explanation has the same effect with the subject matter under review.

Harris, on his part makes a different caption of the subject matter, when he considers it, as a territorial sovereignty of a state when the state within its territorial domain exercises jurisdiction over persons and properties to the exclusion of other states[12] . The learned author did not go straight to the point of non-intervention as envisaged in Art. 2(7) of the UN Charter despite the similarity in effect.

According to, Professor Wright, while making general discussion on non-military intervention states that “states are prohibited by the charter of the UN from using or threatening to use force in international relations unless in individual or collective self-defence against armed attack, under authority of the UN, or by invitation of the state in whose territory force is to be used[13] .The learned author further argued that, they are permitted to use diplomacy, and appeals to international organizations to influence other states by the representation of facts and arguments and the making of representations, protest and declaration of policy and opinions[14] .

It is submitted that, the first part of the learned author‟s explanation is within the meaning of force as provided in the UN Charter on nonintervention, however the last part of his discussion seems to be an exception to the prohibition of non-intervention. This makes his discussion not clearer, it could have been better to explain the two subject separately

i.e prohibition of interventions and exception thereto.

According to Professor Oppenheim, intervention is a forcible or dictatorial interference by a state in the affairs of another state, calculated to impose certain conducts or consequence on that other state[15] . This definition by the learned Professor, seems to be apt on the issue of nonintervention. The learned author makes a terse or pungent explanation on what constitute intervention. According to him, two elements of force and dictation with the aim of insisting on certain conditions or inflicting certain consequences on a state subject to that prohibited intervention. It is therefore submitted that, this definition is well articulated and straight forward.

The term intervention has been defined by Professor Vincent, as an attempt by one state to influence another state, for any purpose, by any means[16] . In the opinion of the researcher intervention in the strict sense is a violation of a state‟s sovereignty and generally relates to international law. It is therefore submitted that, the definition by the learned author is too wide and not in accordance with the UN Charter which categorically

provide for forceful intervention.

It is most respectively submitted that, the thread that cut across the arguments of all the writers is that all of them are unanimous in their belief that, principle of non-intervention as a fundamental norm of international law prohibits all forms of direct or indirect intervention in to internal or external affairs of a sovereign state.

Despite, the importance of  state sovereignty as one of the basic pillars on which world order rests, yet, there is a growing belief that different forms of intervention are necessary in some cases to prevent and alleviate human suffering and human rights abuses. This is quiet a contradiction with reference to the UN charter. It is clear that Article 2(4)[17] is categorical on the prohibition of the threat or use of force. Article 51[18] expressly reserves the inherent right of an individual and collective self-defence of states. In addition, an exception to this principle would also be where UN authorizes such use of force as provided in Art. 42 of the UN Charter[19] . Beyond this, claims to other exceptions do exist under customary international law[20] .

1.6    Justification

The justification for embarking upon this research work is primarily founded on the fact that despite the existence of numerous international, regional and national legal regimes, interventions continue and particularly by the UN and first world countries such as US, UK, etc in to the activities of third world countries. Hence, the needs to provide practical guidance and strategies on how to control interventions. Further, the need to raise the level of states commitment to the respect, compliance and observance of the principles of non-intervention which is fast dwindling.

Finally, the need to determine the efficacy and adequacy of the existing legal frameworks with a view to finding solutions to the interventions issue which isthreatening the principle of friendly relations and peaceful co-existence.

The research will help the international community to understand the importance of the principle of non-interventions. It is hoped that the study will add to the existing research literature on the principle and that the outcome of this research will be the basis for further researches.

The research also will be useful to students, law lecturers, practitioners, jurists, authors of international law, members of various nongovernmental organizations, member states of the UN, judges of international court of justice and anybody who is interested in reading the principle of non intervention.

1.7    Methodology

This begs the question: how will the materials for writing this thesis be collected, used and analyzed? The answer is that, the method adopted in writing this work is the doctrinal method of research.[21] In this context the researcher will largely consult both primary and secondary sources. For instance, in respect of primary sources, the research will focus on international and regional treaties as well as domestic legislations. Beside treaties like Charters, Conventions, Protocols other relevant international standards such as Declarations will be consulted. For the secondary sources references to be consulted include journals, text books, websites, reports of relevant institutions, magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, and news bulletins relevant to the aims and objectives of the research. Furthermore, as a person who is interested in international law, the writer will be listening and following discussions relating to non-intervention either in radios or television (current events).

It is hoped that the information or facts gathered from experience over time will be used to supplement those gathered through research. This is called teleological research methods[22] .

1.8    Organizational Layout

In this thesis there are five chapters. The first chapter deals with the general introduction of the thesis. This includes the introduction, aims and objectives of the study, the statement of the problem, the scope of the study, literature review, justification and methodology adopted.

The second chapter deals with the historical development of the theory and legal status of non-intervention. It has also examine the various sources of the law of Non-intervention and analyze the theory of

sovereignty in relation to non –intervention.

The third chapter deals with the exceptions to the rule of nonintervention, these include both old and new factors. In this chapter there are arguments as to whether some of the bases or factors which warrant intervention today are really genuine reasons for intervention in fact.

The fourth chapter deals with modern concept of the doctrine of nonintervention and examines, in details, the various factors responsible for such changes.

The    fifth    chapter    deals    with    Summary,    Conclusion    and



[1] See Introductory to Note the Statute: Charter of the UN Statute of the International Court of Justice, United Nations. New York pp. 1-2

[2] Moscow Conference of October 19-30, 1943 Tehran Conference of December 1, 1943; Dumberton Oaks Meeting from August 21-Sep 28 Yalta

Conference of Feb 3-11 1945 etc.

[3] UN, Charter 1945, Op. Cit, p.1 .

[4] Art. 2 (7), Ibid  5 Ibid.

[5] Nicaragua V. U.S.A. ICJ Report (1986) p. 108-8

[6] Reisuman, W.M., Coercion and Self-determination: Containing charter article 214) of the UN 78, AmericanJournal of International Law (1984)


[7] Hingorani, R.C., Modern International Law. Oxford & IBH Publishing Co., New Delhe Bombay Calcutta, 3rd Edition (1985) P. 303.

[8] Richard, J.E., International law and the Revolutionary State. Oceana Publication, Dobbos Ferry, N.J.A.W. Sijthoff –Leiden. (1972) p.57

[9] Michael, A., A Modern Introduction to International Law. Boston Sydney Wellington, London, 6th Edition (1998)

Pp. 284-5

[10] Shaw, M.N. International Law. Cambridge University Press, London, 5th Edition (2003) p.574.

[11] Umokurike, U.O., Introduction to International Law. Spectrum Publishers, Zaria, (2006) p.12

[12] Harris, D. Cases and Materials on International Law, Sweet and Maxwell, London, 7th edition (2010) p. 89

[13] Wright, Q. “Non-Military Intervention.” In: Karl W. Deutsch, et. al.,(ed), The Relevance of International Law. Schenkman Publishing Company,

London (1968) p.5

[14] Ibid.

[15] Oppenheim, L. International Law. Longman (1952) Vol. 1 p. 430

[16] Vincent, R.J. Non-Intervention and International Order. University Press (1974)p.281

[17] UN Charter.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ladan, M.T., Materials and cases on Public International Law. ABU Press Limited, Zaria (2007) P.84

[20] Ladan, M.T., Op. Cit P.84. See Also  Haris, D., Cases and Materials on International Law. Sweet & Maxwell, University Press, London, 7th Edition (2010) P.721, and Shaw, M. N. International Law. Cambridge University Press, London, 5th edition (2007) p. 1039.


[21] Aboki, Y., Introduction to Legal Research Methodology. Tamaza Publishing Company Limited, Wusasa, Zaria, 2nd Edition (2009) Pp. 2-3.

[22] Ibid.


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