The Role Of ICJ In The Resolution Of Bakasi Conflict

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

The Role Of ICJ In The Resolution Of Bakasi Conflict


Abstract


Territorial disputes are endemic in Africa; the Bakassi dispute was one of such. It was submitted by Cameroon to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for its determination. The judgement that followed suffered weighty denunciation particularly in Nigeria, yet it enjoyed great approbation internationally. The discovery of oil reserves in the waters surrounding Bakassi Peninsula subjected it to claims and counter-claims for sovereignty, military occupation and recourse to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). On October 10,2002, the International Court of Justice ruled that the Peninsula and the territory in the Lake Chad region should be under the sovereignty of Cameroon. This judgment elicited sensitive scholarly issues of citizenship and self-determination as fundamental human rights. Also, it encountered difficulties in implementation, which following intensive diplomatic activities culminating in the 12 June 2006 Green Tree Agreement brokered by the United Nations and guaranteed by four world powers- Britain, France, Germany and United States, set the modalities of withdrawal and transfer of authority in the Bakassi Peninsula. This work, therefore, is a product of the study of the role of ICJ in the Nigeria-Cameroon boundary dispute. To this effect, we ascertained how the ICJ adjudication on the Bakassi Peninsula constituted the denial of the human rights of Bakassi citizens; the provisions of the Green Tree Agreement resolved the difficulties in the implementation of the ICJ ruling; the interests of external powers affected the adjudication and implementation of the ICJ ruling. We employed the schema theory of security dilemma as our analytical framework to provide a conceptual foundation for the study. Our method of data collection and analysis are qualitative and qualitative descriptive methods respectively. In the final analysis, we posited that although the judgment was based on facts presented by both parties, the conduct of plebiscite that will take into cognizance the human rights of the Bakassi citizens would have been more effective in the settlement of the dispute.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

This study investigates the role of ICJ in the Nigeria-Cameroon dispute, with special focus on the Bakassi Peninsula. In order to achieve this objective, we raised the following research questions: •

  1. Does the ICJ adjudication on Bakassi Peninsula constitutes denial of human rights of Bakassi citizens? •
  2. Is the difficulty in the implementation of the ICJ ruling on Nigeria/Cameroon boundary dispute resolved by provisions of the Green Tree Agreement? •
  3. Did the interests of external powers affects the adjudication and implementation of the ICJ ruling?

We used the schema theory of security dilemma as expounded by Kanji (cited in Burgess and Burgess 2005), which enabled us to explore the security dilemma- a situation where two or more states are drawn into conflict possibly even war over security concerns, even though none of the states actually desire conflict. This theoretical framework become instrumental to the comprehension and conceptualization of boundary as potential source of interstate dispute in itself because the intricacy of boundary relations, is based both on internal and international legislation which constitutes a complicated mixture of interests, actors and actions. In answer to the research questions posed above, we test the following hypotheses that:

  1. The ICJ adjudication on Bakassi Peninsula constitutes denial of human rights of Bakassi citizens
  2. The difficulty in the implementation of the ICJ ruling is resolved by the provisions of the Green Tree Agreement.
  3. The interests of external powers affects the adjudication and implementation of the ICJ ruling.

We adopt qualitative method of data collection and qualitative-descriptive method of analysis respectively and contend that although the judgment of the ICJ was based on facts presented before it by both contending parties, the use of negotiation, mediation and conciliation would have been more effective in the settlement of the dispute contrary to all known conventions.


5.2 Conclusion

The high spate of boundary disputes among Africa states have been associated with the creation of boundaries in Africa disregarding the relationship between territorial boundaries and the anthropogenic homogeneity of the various ethnic groupings by the colonial powers. When Cameroon instituted a case against Nigeria in 1994, Cameroon was inadvertently internationalizing the boundary and territorial dispute with Nigeria. Apparently, Nigeria was hamstrung in a legal dilemma in retrospect because she honored a number of pre-independence agreements inherited from Britain by virtue of the Exchange Notes of October 1, 1960, between Nigeria and the United Kingdom on Treaty obligations. By implication, Nigeria was recognizing the Bakassi peninsula as forming part of the Cameroon. It appears the boundary dispute between the two countries was basically a dispute of right with right; hence a crude piece of ethical analysis should have been involved.

Since this was not the case, the question of the precise status accorded self-determination remains a matter of international politics rather than mere legal principle. Based on the foregoing, therefore, we accept our hypotheses and reach the conclusion that although the ruling was based on facts presented by both parties, the conduct of plebiscite that will take into cognisance the human rights of the Bakassi citizens would have been more effective in the settlement of the dispute.


5.3 Recommendations

In view of the above findings and conclusion, we make the following recommendations:

  1. All boundary disputes, especially in Africa, should be handled according to the United Nations recommendation in its Charter (UN, 1945: Article 33, Sub-section I). According to this, parties to any dispute, the continuation of which is likely to endanger peaceful and warmly relationship should resort to the principles of negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, and judicial settlement, under the auspices of regional agencies or arrangements or other peaceful means of their own choice.
  2. The welfare and improvement in the standard of living of the Bakassi citizens should be of utmost priority to both the Nigerian and Cameroonian government because they are entitled to their fundamental human rights no matter the situation.
  3. A sub-regional commission that will chart a course of harmonious relations among Africa states, especially between Nigeria and Cameroon is also needed.

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