Friday, October 12, 2012

Implementing ICJ Decisions: Cameroon and Nigeria Border Dispute

One of the difficult issues in international law is how it can be enforced.  Fortunately, some countries honor the spirit of international dispute resolution and implement decisions affecting them. This week, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended Cameroon and Nigeria for their commitment in honoring the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over their shared border, marking the tenth anniversary of this decision and stressing that both countries are a positive example of settling disputes peacefully.  

“[Mr. Ban] congratulates the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission for the commendable efforts it has made in implementing the ICJ ruling. The success of the Commission is an embodiment of an innovative approach to conflict resolution,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement issued on Wednesday night.  He added that "[b]y peacefully resolving their border dispute, Cameroon and Nigeria have provided a positive example for countries around the world facing similar challenges."  Click here to see a copy of the statement.

The border had been the subject of intense and sometimes violent disputes between the West African neighbors for decades until they agreed to a United Nations-backed process to settle the matter.  The ICJ resolved the issue with a ruling in 2002. The verdict was followed by the 2006 Greentree Agreement -- signed under the auspices of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- under which Nigeria recognized Cameroonian sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula, one part of the border.  

“The Secretary-General stresses the importance of addressing the socio-economic, humanitarian and security needs of the populations affected by the demarcation process, including in the Bakassi area,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said. “He also highlights the importance of implementing confidence-building measures and fostering cross-border cooperation.”  

The UN Secretary-General also encouraged Cameroon and Nigeria to reach an agreement on the remaining 200 kilometres of land boundary so the demarcation process can come to an end, and reiterated the UN’s commitment to continue supporting both countries in implementing the ICJ ruling through the Commission and the Follow-up Committee on the Greentree Agreement, both of which are chaired by the UN. 

(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)

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