|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
AGREEMENT TRANSFERRING AUTHORITY OVER BAKASSI PENINSULA FROM NIGERIA TO CAMEROON
‘TRIUMPH FOR THE RULE OF LAW’, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IN MESSAGE FOR CEREMONY
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the occasion of the ceremony for the withdrawal and transfer of authority in the Bakassi peninsula, as delivered by Kieran Prendergast, Chairman of the follow-up committee on the implementation of the Greentree Agreement between Nigeria and Cameroon, in Calabar, Nigeria, today, 14 August:
In June 2006 in Greentree, Cameroon and Nigeria signed a historic agreement under the auspices of my predecessor, Kofi Annan, setting the modalities and time frame for the implementation of the 2002 ruling of the International Court of Justice transferring the Bakassi peninsula from Nigeria to Cameroon. That landmark event was a testimony to the determination and resolve of both countries to move beyond a difficult past and, with a common vision and aspiration to strengthen and respect the rule of international law, address their border dispute in a way that secured lasting peace and good neighbourly relations between the peoples of Cameroon and Nigeria.
For the United Nations, the Greentree Agreement was also the embodiment of an innovative approach to conflict resolution. Beginning with the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from Bakassi two years ago and culminating in this ceremony, the case of the Bakassi peninsula has proven the viability of a peaceful and legal settlement of border disputes, when it is done with the full support of the international community and in a spirit of mutual respect, good neighbourliness and cooperation. Today, I wish to pay tribute to the foresight and political will demonstrated by the Governments and peoples of the Republic of Cameroon and the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is, in particular, their patience and perseverance that have made this remarkable experiment, and today’s ceremony, possible. Furthermore, the success of their initiative has provided the world with a model for the peaceful resolution of sensitive disputes.
This day also marks a critical milestone in the successful implementation of the 2002 ruling of the International Court of Justice, which resolved the potentially dangerous boundary dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria. It is a day of triumph for the rule of law, which lies at the very core of the mission and work of the United Nations. As the two countries continue to work together to finalize the demarcation of their land boundary and foster cross-border cooperation at different levels, they will benefit from the continued engagement and support of the United Nations.
The final transfer of authority in the Bakassi peninsula opens a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries in addressing residual issues. I am confident that both Governments will show the same resolve and dedication to making sure that the human rights of the local populations affected by this historic event continue to be protected. Let me convey a final message of hope for sustainable peace and progress in the Bakassi peninsula, and in Cameroon and Nigeria as a whole. Whether Cameroonian or Nigerian, the people of Bakassi can be assured of the continued support of the United Nations as they work with their Governments and their communities to build a stable and prosperous future for generations to come.
Let me conclude with a message of thanks to Presidents Paul Biya of Cameroon and Umaru Yar’Adua of Nigeria, for ensuring the success of today’s historic event.
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