June 20, 2014, the long-awaited decision by the East African Court of Justice, on the status of building a 53 km road across the Serengeti is finally in. Judgement-Ref.-No.9-of-2010-Final
The East African Court rules the roadway built to bitumen standard (asphalt on top gravel and sand) across the Serengeti National Park is unlawful and infringes on the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, Articles 1 and 3.
The Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), with funding from Serengeti Watch and others, successfully argued that building the road would do irreversible harm to this “World Heritage Property” of “outstanding Universal value” as described by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
This is a big win for environmentalist and the conservation movement in Africa. The court was careful to balance the decision by adding that it did not want to block the development programs of Partner States to its jurisdictional powers. Economic development will move forward and it is encouraged in all of East Africa. This question was one of protecting the environment, the animals, and migration patterns of the hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra and the like, from irreversible harm in the face of human expansion. Balancing commerce with conservation will always be a difficult battle.
This is a defining moment for saving an important part of the ecosystem in East Africa. Congratulations to ANAW, Serengeti Watch, and all those concerned for keeping a few places in the world majestic and untouched.