Not A Sustainable Path For East Africa
East African Court of Justice Arusha, 23 June 2014: The first Instance Division on 20 June 2014, as it concluded the session which begun in May 2014, declared that the initial proposed action by the United Republic of Tanzania to construct a highway road across Serengeti National Park was unlawful and an infringement of Articles 5(3)(c) which provides for the promotion of sustainable utilization of the natural resources of the Partner States and the taking of measures that would effectively protect the natural environment of the Partner States; and others of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
The Articles provide on the promotion of sustainable utilization of the natural resources of the Partner States and the taking of measures that would effectively protect the natural environment of the Partner States; Action by the Community relating to the environment objectives and Management of Natural Resources.
The Court also granted a permanent injunction restraining Tanzania from operationalizing the action of constructing or maintaining a road across the Serengeti National Park subject to its right to undertake such other programs in future which would not have negative impacts to the environment and ecosystem in the Serengeti National Park.
The Court in its judgment said that the matter raises issues that are today the subject of wide debate across the World, including; environmental protection, sustainable development, environmental rule of Law and the role of the State in policy formulation in matters relating to the environment and natural resources.
In addition added that the role of the Court in balancing its interpretation jurisdiction against the needs of ensuring that Partner States are not unduly hindered in their developmental programs.
The Court added that all these issues must however be looked at from the common thread running through the matter in the need to protect the Serengeti ecosystem for the sake of future generations and whether the road project has potential for causing irreparable damages to the environment.