Border dispute settlements in Africa and their impact on human rights of indigenous occupants of displaced territories
Kalumba, Mutinta Katele
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Africa has, within its vast territory, seen many disputes over boundaries between states. These disputes in Africa usually emanate from conflict between states, which arises, in some cases, from division between different ethnic groups, and more often than not, from different interests with regard to the land which forms the subject of the dispute. Africa has witnessed a large number of these disputes culminate in war between states, which carry on for years, with resolution seeming impossible or far-fetched. Examples of such are the long-running war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, Nigeria and Cameroon, just to name a few. This is why border disputes are sensitive issues which must be handled with utmost delicacy.Border disputes usually centre on, and are often presented as claims to territory, over which there lays uncertainty as to which state has sovereign title, the said territory being situated in a border area. The disputes that arise are often due to imprecision or lack of a frontier line between disputant states. Depending on the circumstances of a particular case, settlement may take the form of interpretation of a border treaty, delimitation (i.e. the agreed description of the common boundary on paper), demarcation (i.e. laying more precise alignment on the ground, by means of detailed survey and emplacement of beacons) or indeed all of the aforementioned1. The methods of reaching settlement may be through negotiation between heads of state, mediation by an appointed head of state, arbitration by an international tribunal or judicial settlement by an international court such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ". Border dispute settlement involves states, as parties to the case, trying to put to rest a dispute in a manner that is to the common benefit of the states involved. However, the dispute appears more complex when territories under dispute, are populated with occupants who are indigenous to the said territory. There exists the question of possible human rights implications created for these occupants due to the outcome of the dispute settlements for the state parties. An example of such a scenario can be found in the dispute over the Lake Mweru-Lake Tanganyika border between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The border area is inhabited by the Bwile people who exist both on the Zambian and the Cogolese side of the border. Another such example is the case of the dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon over the Bakassi Peninsula. The peninsula is home to the Efike and Ambazonian people although the territory, by an ICJ ruling was awarded to Cameroon.This directed research investigates the existence possible human rights implications for the indigenous occupants of the disputed territories, as a result of the border dispute settlement reached by the state parties.
- Law