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UN Secretary General Urges Correction Of Southern Cameroons Problems

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Akere Muna

 

 

 

 

 

As Southern Cameroonians maintain their resolve to commemorate the independence of Southern Cameroons come October 1 2017, the government of La Republique du Cameroun has switched to panic mood. Panic is manifested by the hyper-militarization of the Republic of Southern Cameroons, incessant abductions, uncontrolled torture and murder of citizens of Southern Cameroons. The possible negative effects of the hyper-militarization of the Southern Cameroons have prompted the Secretary General of the United Nations (UNSG) to weigh in with recommendations.

On the September 28 2017, the UNSG issued a statement through his spokesperson expressing his deep concerns about the situation in the Southern Cameroons related to October 1, 2017. He encourages Cameroonian authorities to continue efforts to address the grievances of the Southern Cameroonians urging them to find measures of national reconciliation aimed at finding a durable solution to the crisis including addressing the root problem.

The UNSG also supports the values of unity, territorial integrity and urges parties to refrain from acts that could lead to the escalation of tension and violence. This request reminds concerned parties to note the people of Southern Cameroons have always based their movements on the force of argument and not the argument of force. This motto was tested on September 22 2017, when citizens of Southern Cameroons peacefully demonstrated their love for fatherland through upholding the peace plant and singing songs of freedom. The UNSG sends a message across to the government of La Republique du Cameroun that he has taken note of the murders and abductions against the people of Southern Cameroons.

The UNSG seized this occasion to re-echo the call Southern Cameroonians have made over the years to genuine and inclusive dialogue in the presence of the UN. Other key international partners like the African Union, the Commonwealth and the Bishops of Cameroon. This call has often been spited by La Republique du Cameroun.

Right to self-determination under international law

The UNSG’s call to dialogue between the government of La Republique du Cameroun and the people of Southern Cameroons brings out the clear dichotomy between La Republique du Cameroun and Southern Cameroons. This reiterates the international law notion of peoples and the right to self-determination enshrined in international treaties and conventions. In international law, the right to self-determination that became recognized in the 1960s was interpreted as the right of all colonial territories to become independent or to adopt any other status they freely chose. The African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights grounded their decision in the case of Southern Cameroons vs La Republique du Cameroun on this principle of international law. They ruled interalia, The Commission states that after thorough analysis of the arguments and literature, it finds that the people of Southern Cameroons can legitimately claim to be a “people”. Based on that reasoning, the Commission finds that “the people of Southern Cameroons” qualify to be referred to as a “people” because they manifest numerous characteristics and affinities, which include a common history, linguistic tradition, territorial connection and political outlook. More importantly they identify themselves as a people with a separate and distinct identity. Identity is an innate characteristic within a people. It is up to other external people to recognise such existence, but not to deny it. . The Commission is aware that post-colonial Africa has witnessed numerous cases of domination of one group of people over others, either on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity, without such domination constituting colonialism in the classical sense. Civil wars and internal conflicts on the continent are testimony to that fact. It is incumbent on State Parties, therefore, whenever faced with allegations of the nature contained in the present communication, to address them rather than ignore them under the guise of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Commission shall address the question, whether the people of Southern Cameroons are entitled to the right to self-determination. In so doing it shall contextualise the question by dealing, not with the 1961 UN Plebiscite, or the 1972 Unification, but rather the events of 1993 and 1994 on the constitutional demands vis-à-vis the claim for the right to self-determination of the Southern Cameroonian people. The Commission has however accepted that autonomy within a sovereign state, in the context of self-government, confederacy, or federation, while preserving territorial integrity of a State party, can be exercised under the Charter. The Commission believes that the Southern Cameroonians’ grievances cannot be resolved through secession but through a comprehensive national dialogue.

The UNSG recommends that the root causes be addressed. It should be noted that Cameroon as it is today was founded in 1961 by the coming together of two parties. The UNSG recognizes this fact and recommends dialogue should be between two parties, the people of Southern Cameroons and the government of La Republique du Cameroun. It is my submission that the root causes of the crisis are twofold.

Root Cause of the problem

The responsibility of the UN

As early as 1952 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) noted that a territory had three options to attain self-government: independence, “other separate systems of self-government,” or free association.” According to resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960 all peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. The resolution further states that immediate steps shall be taken, in Trust and Non-Self Governing Territories (Southern Cameroons) or all other territories which have not yet attained independence, to transfer all powers to the peoples of those territories, without any conditions or reservations, in accordance with their freely expressed wishes, without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them to enjoy complete independence and freedom. Contrary to these provisions of the resolution, the people of Southern Cameroons gained conditional independence obliging them to either ‘join’ Nigeria or La Republique du Cameroun. By obliging Southern Cameroons to ‘join’ Nigeria or La Republique du Cameroun facilitated the disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of Southern Cameroons which has been incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. According to principle 1541, non-self-governing territories would be said to have reached a measure of self-government by:

  1. a) Emergence as a sovereign independent State
  2. b) Free association with an independent State
  3. c) Integration with an independent State

By subjecting or obliging the people of Southern Cameroons to join either Nigeria or Cameroon, the UN failed to uphold her principles and procedures. This has caused untold harm to the people of Southern Cameroons because the ‘joining’ was not only illegal and void from the beginning but lack legal backing and legal consequences.

Similarly, the UN failed to enforce the obligations of the Resolution 1608 requiring the United Kingdom (UK), government of Southern Cameroons and La Republique du Cameroun to finalise the arrangements and policies under which the decision of the plebiscite will be implemented. Unfortunately, the UK did not sit at this meeting and the results of the arrangements have not been submitted to the UN as required by policy. This is the fundamental cause of the conflicts in Southern Cameroons from the part of the UN.

Responsibility of LRC

Despite the failure of the UN and the UK to ensure the enforcement of UN Resolution 1608, Southern Cameroons and la Republique du Cameroun met, negotiated a constitution and agreed that the constitution will be adopted only after each house of parliament adopted it separately. This was compounded by the violation of Section 47 of the constitution by decreeing the conduct of a referendum to amend the constitution despite the provisions of Section 47 (3) which provided that the amendment (of the constitution) may be passed by a simple majority of the membership of the Federal Assembly: Provided that such majority include a majority of the membership elected from each Federated State. Besides rubbishing the gentlemen’s’ agreement between the people of Southern Cameroons and la Republique du Cameroun, by abrogating the constitution of 1961, la Republique du Cameroun out rightly violated the right to self-determination of the people of Southern Cameroons.

Conclusion

The UNSG’s deep concern regarding the events leading to October 1 2017 is clear manifestation that the peaceful and non-violent revolution by the people of Southern Cameroons has reminded the UN that she owes the people of Southern Cameroons a duty to right the wrongs of history. The non-respect of UN resolutions has put the people of Southern Cameroons in harm’s way. The people of Southern Cameroons in the case cited above requested the African Court to hear their case on the illegality of 1961 plebiscite but the Commission recused herself on the grounds that it couldn’t entertain cases that happened prior to her founding. It is the unbending duty of the UN to cause the reversal of the root causes the problems of Southern Cameroons. The people of Cameroon have a right to self-determination and the UN is duty bound to respect her Charter, UNGA declarations and resolutions. It is on this note that the people of Southern Cameroons call on the UN to enforce the independence vote of April 21, 1961. In this vote, the people of the world recognized the people of Southern Cameroons as an independent people. Conditioning the independence of people of Southern Cameroon has exposed them to untold harm. LRC has simply recolonized the people of Southern Cameroons thereby violating international law and spiting UN resolutions 1608 and 1541.

Ngalim Bernard Yongabi,

Contributor, BaretaNews

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