Nigeria, Cameroon request UN-backed commission to follow-up ICJ ruling on Bakassi
The leaders of Nigeria and Cameroon have agreed to ask a United Nations-backed commission to consider ways of following up on last month's ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the rights to the disputed Bakassi peninsula, a move hailed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
According to a communiqué issued following the Secretary General's meeting in Geneva today with Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Paul Biya of Cameroon, Mr. Annan welcomed "their renewed commitment, as Heads of State of law-abiding countries, to renounce the use of force in their bilateral relations and pursue peaceful ways for the settlement of their boundary differences, as well as the constructive spirit which prevailed throughout the various meetings held during the day."
On 10 October, the ICJ essentially awarded Cameroon rights to the oil-rich peninsula. Two weeks later, Nigeria said in a position paper that the judgment did not consider "fundamental facts" about the Nigerian inhabitants of the territory, whose "ancestral homes" the ICJ has now adjudged to be in Cameroonian territory.
According to today's text, the "mixed commission," which would be chaired by Mr. Annan's Special Representative, Ahmedou Ould-Adballah, would consider all the implications of the ICJ's decision, including the need to protect the rights of the affected populations in both countries.
The body also would be entrusted with the task of demarcating the land boundary between the two countries and making recommendations on additional confidence-building measures, such as the holding of regular meetings between local authorities, government officials and Heads of State.
Such measures would also include the development of joint venture projects, avoidance of inflammatory statements on Bakassi, troop withdrawals along the land boundary, demilitarization of the peninsula and the reactivation of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.
The commission would meet in the two countries’ capitals, Abuja and Yaoundé, on an alternating basis, starting with Yaoundé on 1 December, the communiqué said.