Nigeria, Cameroon and the Bakassi Territorial Dispute Settlement: The Triumph of Bilateralism



This paper dwells on the subject of the application of bilateral negotiations in the resolution of disputes/conflicts, taking the Nigeria-Cameroon dispute over Bakassi as a case in point. It blends perspectives on the bilateralism/negotiation approach with the reality of this case and argues that alternative dispute resolution forms, in this instance, its facilitated negotiation, led to ultimate resolution. Given that dispute/conflict resolution seeks to find solutions acceptable to parties to achieve peaceful coexistence, the question arises as to whether the ICJ’s ruling in itself was able to amicably resolve this case? The answer is that the Judgment of October 2002 did not lead immediately to settlement, rather it engendered defiance and ambivalence from Nigeria, leading subsequently to the intervention of stakeholders in the international system, especially Western countries, and particularly the UN and its then Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, who galvanized the UN machinery to institute direct bilateral talks between Nigeria and Cameroon to thrash out their differences. The emergent Mixed Commission and the Greentree Agreement of 2006 ensured the achievement of reconciliation, lasting peace and final resolution along the lines of the ICJ’s ruling of 2002.

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