The Greentree Agreement was the formal treaty which resolved the Cameroon–Nigeria border dispute over the oil and natural gas rich Bakassi peninsula. The dispute had roots as far back as 1913, 1981, 1994, and 1996 armed clashes between Nigeria and Cameroon took place in Bakassi. The dispute was referred to the International Court of Justice and on October 10, 2002 the International Court of Justice ICJ ruled in favor of Cameroon.
On 12 June 2006, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Cameroonian President Paul Biya, signed the Greentree Agreement concerning the withdrawal of troops and transfer of authority in the Peninsula. The withdrawal of Nigerian troops was set for 60 days but allowed for a possible 30-day extension while Nigeria was allowed to keep its civil administration and police in Bakassi for another two years.
A follow-up committee, composed of representatives from Cameroon, Nigeria, the United Nations, Germany, the United States of America, France and the United Kingdom, was created to monitor the implementation of the agreement. That is the reason why on August 13, 2013 the United Nations Security Council stated that it welcomed the peaceful end two days earlier of the special transitional regime in the Bakassi Peninsula.
Following suit is the text from the United Nation 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, on August 14.
In June 2006 in Greentree, Cameroon and Nigeria signed a historic agreement under the auspices of Ban Ki moon’s 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.
Tribute no doubt should paid 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 event see the light of day. Furthermore, the success of this initiative by the presidents Paul Biya and Olusungun Obasanjo has provided the world with a model for the peaceful resolution of sensitive disputes.
The day that has gone into the annals, 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. It is 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.