Nigeria and Cameroon Bakassi Peninsula Dispute


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Nigeria and Cameroon Try To Settle Bakassi Peninsula Dispute




Yoko Yasuhara


culled from UN Chronicle

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan hosted talks on 31 January 2004 in Geneva between the Presidents of Nigeria and Cameroon to settle the dispute over the sovereignty of the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula. The meeting, under the framework of the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, is aimed at discussing progress made by the two countries, with United Nations support, in the implementation of the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In 1994, Cameroon asked the ICJ to rule on a dispute "relating essentially to the question of sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula", which it declared was under military possession by Nigeria, and to settle the maritime boundary between the two countries. On 10 October 2002, citing a 1913 agreement between Germany and the United Kingdom, as well as the Thomson-Marchland Declaration of 1929-1930, the ICJ decided to award sovereignty rights of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. In response to this decision, Nigeria asserted that the judgement did not consider "fundamental facts" about the Nigerian inhabitants of the Peninsula, whose "ancestral homes" the ICJ ruled to be in Cameroonian territory.

Before the ruling, on 5 September 2002, the Secretary-General met in Paris with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Cameroonian President Paul Biya to discuss the Peninsula. Both Presidents agreed to respect and implement the decision of the ICJ and to establish an implementation mechanism, with the support of the United Nations. They also agreed on the need for confidence-building measures, including demilitarization of the Peninsula, and recognized that the issue needed to be considered in the wider context of the overall relationship between the two countries. Both were determined to restore neighbourly relations and discussed the possibilities of cooperation in the economic field, including joint ventures.

A second meeting between the Secretary-General and the two Presidents was held in Geneva on 15 November 2002, during which they agreed to establish the Mixed Commission, comprising representatives from Nigeria and Cameroon, to handle differences and consider all implications and ways of following up on the ICJ ruling. The Commission, which is chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, is charged with demarcating the land boundary and making recommendations on confidence-building measures, including the development of joint venture projects, troop withdrawals along the boundary, demilitarization of the Peninsula and reactivation of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

The Mixed Commission on 13 June 2003 discussed the progress towards the planning and implementation of determining the border between the two countries. At a two-day meeting at Yaounde on 3 and 4 December 2003, Nigeria agreed to withdraw its troops from the Lake Chad area, with the withdrawal and handover taking place between 8 and 18 December. A sub-committee of the Mixed Commission visited the Bakassi Peninsula for the first time, from 13 to 20 February 2004, and met with authorities, traditional chiefs and citizens. Cameroon and Nigeria also agreed that additional field visits by the Commission were necessary. The Commission will meet again on 6 and 7 April 2004 in Yaoundé, Cameroon.


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This page was last updated on 10/27/07.