Greentree Accord to Reinforce ICJ Verdict

Par | Cameroon Tribune
- 14-Jun-2006 - 08h30   60668                      
Below is a full text of the agreement signed in New York on June 12, 2006.
The Republic of Cameroon (hereinafter referred to as "Cameroon") and the Federal Republic of Nigeria (hereinafter referred to as "Nigeria"). Reaffirming their willingness to peacefully implement the judgment of the International Court of Justice, Commending the secretary-general of the United Nations for his efforts made in this respect in organizing the tripartite summits and establishing the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission, Considering that the question of the withdrawal from and transfer of authority over the Bakassi Peninsula should be treated in a forward-looking spirit of goodwill in order to open new prospects for cooperation between the two countries after decades of difficult bilateral relations, Determined to encourage the consolidation of confidence and peace between their two countries for the well-being of their peoples and for stability in the subregion, Have decided to conclude the present agreement. Article 1 Nigeria recognizes the sovereignty of Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula in accordance with the judgment of the International Court of Justice of 10 October 2002 in the matter of land and maritime boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria. Cameroon and Nigeria recognize the land and maritime boundary between the two countries as delineated by the Court and commit themselves to continuing the process of implementation already begun. Article 2 Nigeria agrees to withdraw all its armed forces from the Bakassi Peninsula within sixty days of the date of the signing of this Agreement. If exceptional circumstances so require, the secretary-general of the United Nations may extend the period, as necessary, for a further period not exceeding a total of thirty days. This withdrawal shall be conducted in accordance with the modalities envisaged in annex 1 to this agreement. Article 3 1. Cameroon, after the transfer of authority to it by Nigeria, guarantees to Nigerian nationals living in the Bakassi Peninsula the exercise of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in international human rights law and in other relevant provisions of international law. 2. In particular, Cameroon shall: (a) not force Nigerian nationals living in the Bakassi Peninsula to leave the Zone or to change their nationality; (b) respect their culture, language and beliefs; (c) respect their right to continue their agricultural and fishing activities; (d) protect their property and their customary land rights; (e) not levy in any discriminatory manner any taxes and other dues on Nigerian nationals living in the zone; and (f) take every necessary measure to protect Nigerian nationals living in the zone from any harassment or harm. Article 4 Annex I and the map contained in Annex II to this agreement shall constitute an integral part thereof. No part of this agreement shall be interpreted as a renunciation by Cameroon of its sovereignty over any part of its territory. Article 5 This agreement shall be implemented in good faith by the parties, with the good offices of the secretary-general of the United Nations, if necessary, and shall be witnessed by the United Nations, the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America. Article 6 1. A follow-up committee to monitor the implementation of this agreement is hereby established. It shall be composed of representatives of Cameroon, Nigeria, the United Nations and the witness States. The committees shall monitor the implementation of the agreement by the parties with the assistance of the United Nations observers of the Mixed Commission. 2. The follow-up committee shall settle any dispute regarding the interpretation and implementation of this agreement. 3. The activities of the follow-up committee shall cease at the end of the period of the special transitional regime provided for in paragraph 4 of annex I to this agreement. Article 7 This agreement shall in no way be construed as an interpretation or modification of the judgment of the International Court of Justice of 10 October 2002, for which the agreement only sets out the modalities of implementation. Article 8 This agreement is concluded in English and French, both texts being equally authentic. Done at Greentree, New York, on 12 June 2006 For the Republic of Cameroon: Paul Biya, President For the Federal Republic of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo, President: Olusengun Obasanjo Witnesses For the United Nations: Kofi Ata Annan For the Federal Republic of Germany: H.E. Gunter Pleuger For the United States of America: H.E. Fakie Sanders For the French Republic: H.E. Michel Duclos For the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland — H.E. Koren Pierce Bakassi: Sane Geopolitics It pays to be prudent in decision-making, fraternal in conflict resolution, and shrewd in diplomatic relations. On 18 February 1994 when Nigerian troops that had occupied the Cameroonian peninsular of Bakassi since 21 December 1993 attacked troops in Idabato, anyone could conclude that another African trouble spot of endless bloody encounters had surfaced. Twelve years after that unfortunate event, indeed an unpleasant surprise to Cameroonians and their wellwishers, what has emerged from the dispute despite other surprises can be considered a lesson for the rest of Africa and other regions where border conflicts rob neighbours of peace and stability. Thanks to politics of reason and the craving for peace and dialogue in conflict resolution. President Paul Biya of Cameroon who could have approached friends abroad, or gone shopping for weapons to fight back an intrusion by a neighbour when the conflict erupted opted for a peaceful solution through the International Court of Justice at the Hague. This has since given our country the honour it deserves. It was not mere luck, but manifestation of the truth when on 10 October 2002, the International court of Justice declared the disputed Bakassi peninsular Cameroonian property. Besides salient facts provided by Cameroonian delegations, were the supporting colonial agreements of 11 March 1913, 22 February 1909, 6 October 1909 and 12 April 1913 proving that the Bakassi peninsular is in fact Cameroonian. Consequently, any occupying forces had to leave no matter their rationale behind the move. After such a verdict by a specialised organ of the UN like the International Court of Justice, anyone would have expected its implementation effected in a matter of weeks, if not days. But this was not the case. A mixed commission was created on 15 November 2002 to follow up modalities for implementation of the verdict. With this procedural norm, Cameroonians prayed that no matter any delay that could come up, all should be pursued in peace and accomplished in interest of the nation. Shuttle diplomatic missions, mixed commission sessions, and summits have since portrayed sustained efforts by Cameroon and Nigeria to give dialogue a chance in the implementation of the verdict. But this time in New York it was a tripartite summit with a difference. Besides Presidents Paul Biya, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, there were International Diplomats from the United States, Britain, France and Germany. That these Diplomats from Cameroon’s Cooperation partners were at the Greentree Accord Conference room to be living witnesses to Nigeria’s pledge to withdraw from the Cameroonian Peninsular of Bakassi in 60 days is significant. But let 60 days be 60 days and not weeks, not to talk of months. President Paul Biya made it clear in his brief speech at the signing ceremony when he expressed the wish that the agreement be scrupulously implemented in respect of cooperation that must exist between Cameroon and Nigeria. Implementation, he also noted, would give credibility to the United Nations at a time when we are in dire need of trust and cooperation for mutual and multilateral benefits. This pronouncement coming after Monday’s Greentree Accord in which, Nigeria has pledged to leave the Bakassi peninsular in respect of the 10 October 2002 ICJ verdict is significant and should be given the importance deserved. For one thing, besides the fact that Bakassi is truly Cameroonian and ought to belong to its rightful owners, there is also this challenge of teaching the rest of Africa the rationale of respecting decisions taken by specialised organs of the United Nations Organisation. This also authenticates the rationale of peace, the prudence of good neighbourliness, geopolitical maturity, and ingredients of solidarity. In actual fact, at a time when we are talking globalisation and the rationale of alleviating poverty and making life worth living in all regions of our global village, we cannot afford to play selfish geopolitics, and questionable diplomacy. African nations from the slave trade era, through colonisation to political independence, and today’s difficult democratisation have suffered a variety of traumas which must end. But what a betrayal of good will should they continue to perpetrate geopolitical ills which rob them of peace and the will to cooperate for mutual benefit! It is indeed the keen wish of Cameroonians and their wellwishers to see the New York Greentree Accord on the implementation of the ICJ verdict on the Bakassi a launch pad for an end to the dispute. Shey Peter Mabu
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