“The Migingo Dispute between Uganda and Kenya: What the world’s tiniest island tells us about international law and relations.”
Christopher Rossi directs Humanities Iowa and is an adjunct faculty member at the Iowa Law College. He has a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and law degrees from the University of London and the University of Iowa. He worked on deterrence issues for the Arms Control Association, a division of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and on verification issues at the UN International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria. He has taught at American University, UNI, the Mongolian Diplomatic Academy, and Pusan National University.
He served on the White House National Security Council as director of human rights and humanitarian affairs. He has published articles on the law of war, legal history, international courts and criminal tribunals, polar affairs, Latin America, and on the law of the sea. He has co-edited two books on international affairs and has authored three books, the latest titled Sovereignty and Territorial Temptation (Cambridge University Press, 2017). He has also edited a chapbook on the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery Expedition, which was distributed to 20,000 5th grade students of Iowa history, and a documentary collection of Iowa photographs by the American master, David Plowden. His current research interest is on Whiggish International Law: The Monroe Doctrine, Elihu Root, and International Law in the Americas.
Migingo is a small island in the eastern waters of Africa’s Lake Victoria. It is half the size of the Hawkeye football field. For as long as anyone can remember, it was an uninhabited pinprick that happens to straddle the water boundary between Uganda and Kenya. Recent changes in the Lake Victoria’s water table have turned the island into a perfect waystation for hunting the much-desired Nile perch. This newly discovered value of the islet has turned it into a dangerous flashpoint in the deteriorating relations between Uganda and Kenya. Who owns this island? The answer presents unsettling questions about the history of international law, colonialism, genocide, and the future of the International Criminal Court in Africa.