Law of the Sea and Nigeria-Cameroon Relations: the Bakassi Dispute : Current School News

Law of the Sea and Nigeria-Cameroon Relations: the Bakassi Dispute Revisited



Law of the Sea and Nigeria-Cameroon Relations: the Bakassi Dispute Revisited.


The discovery of oil deposits around the golf of Africa and in the Bakassi Peninsula led to series of claims and counter-claims of sovereignty over the peninsula.
The heighten debate and bone of contention over the Bakassi Peninsular has evolve basically around the fact that each country wanted to own the richly endowed Bakassi peninsular so as to control the large mineral deposit in the area.
The research tries to assess the causes and the role of natural resources in the conflict, the effects of the conflicts and the Green Tree Accord to the local residents of the peninsula.
Hence, the bakassi dispute is within the territorial waters of Nigeria and Cameroon, The Law of the Sea was imputed to proffer justice to the dispute. It is against this backdrop that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Judgment on the Bakassi peninsula is critically examined.
Broadly, this research looked to examine the law governing the sea and the Nigerian-Cameroon Relations and to revisit the Bakassi Dispute.
Specifically, the research examined the relationship between the discovery of natural resources particularly oil in the Bakassi Peninsula and the worsening dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon.
Using Qualitative data analysis, the study situated the problem between Nigeria and Cameroon to be the discovery of natural resources particularly oil in the Bakassi Peninsula.
With the employment of the Theory of Economic Nationalism, it was assumed in the study that European imperialist activity in the last two centuries established borders in Africa, including our case study.

However, the basic element explaining conflicts over these borders today is nationalism, which is manifest in the form of a struggle for economic attainment and psychic aggrandizement, by nationals and their leadership.
Nationalism provides a critical explanation for a frequent war stirrings emanating from borders that go beyond the defense of territorial integrity of states.
Intensive research yielded archival data on colonial and post-colonial treaties and administrative reports, which were critically analyzed.
Extent data were also obtained from libraries to compliment the archival and offered diverse collections of informed scholarly opinions on boundary and related issues.
Analysis or data enabled us to arrive at our findings. The analysis of the data revealed that, Economic Nationalism inspired by the mineral and other natural endowments of the disputed area, is central to the dispute.
Beside this, domestic political forces in these countries and their colonial background synergized with the basic economic element to reinforce the conflict situation.


Background Of Study
The law of the sea according to Umozurike (2001) was largely codified in the four conventions of 1958-Geneva convention territorial sea and contiguous zone, Geneva Convention on the high seas, Geneva Convention on the continental shelf and Geneva Convention of fishing and conservation of the living resources of the high seas.
The Geneva, convention on the high seas was generally declaratory of customary rules; the others were partly declaratory and partly a progressive development of the law:
A number of issues, notably the width of the territorial sea and the right of innocent passage for warships through straits that also form parts of territorial seas were not settled in the first UN conference in 1958 nor were they in the second conference held in 1960.
The need for a third conference arose from the need, inter alia, to settle those outstanding issues.
There had been technological developments in deep sea mining and a greater recognition of the need to conserve fish and prevent or control pollution.
Moreover, the new states that emerged in large numbers since 1960 had not participated in the previous conferences.
The third UN conference on the law of the sea was embarked upon in 1973 to provide a comprehensive regime on the law of the sea.
The negotiations took nine years and the conference of 160 delegations adopted novel methods to arrive at agreements.
The negotiations took place in the main committees, in formal and informal negotiating groups and even in privately convened negotiating groups.
It was recognized ab initio that the problems of the sea were interrelated and should be considered and solved together. It was therefore necessary to achieve compromises in order to arrive at consensus decisions.
This method ensured the widest participation; it enabled the divergences to be clearly identified and then harmonized the different political, economic and legal systems.
Brownlie,(1979). Voting was to be adopted only as a last resort for it was recognized that parties that voted against a decision tended to deny their cooperation when it came to execution.
Different subjects were allocated to different problems and the results were brought to the larger committees and ultimately to the committee of the whole. It took a long time to arrive at the final text.


Akinsonya, A. (1985) The Maritime Law and the Law of the Sea. Lagos: Oxford University Press
Alao, A. (2007) Natural Resources and Conflicts in Africa. New York: University of Rochester press and WistonLeege
Anene, J. (1990). Peace Keeping in International Politics: Studies in International Politics and Security. New York, New Press.
Asika, N. (1999) Research Methodology in Behavioral Sciences, Ikeja: Longman.
Asiwaju, A and Barkindo, B (1984) Global Perspective and Border Management Options.Lagos: University of Lagos Press
Avruch, K. (1998) Culture and conflict resolution. Washington: Washington D.C. press.



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