• Cameroon v. Nigeria (No. 3)
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  • 2002-12-23
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Cameroon v. Nigeria (No. 3)


YEAR 2002


10  October

General List

No. 94

10  October  2002







INTERNATIONAL LAW - Agreement of 11 March 1913 entered into by Great Britain as a breach of the 1884 Treaty - Whether Great Britain actionably liable under international law

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Anglo-German Agreement of 1913 - Articles XVIII -  XXII thereof - Severability of

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Bakassi Peninsula - Relevance of effectivités and historical consolidation thereto

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Bakassi Peninsula - States of during mandate and trusteeship period - Soundness of Nigeria’s case of sovereignty over Bakassi Peninsula

INTERNATIONAL LAW - City states of old Calabar - Whether had international personality

INTERNATIONAL LAW - City states of Old Calabar - Whether Nigeria presents a clear-cut picture or the extent of their territory

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Effectiveness or historical consolidation - When given consideration over above legal title

INTERNATIONAL LAW - International Court of Justice - Doing justice in accordance with maintenance of international peace and security in any region of the world as primary purpose of - Need for the Court to ensure that conflicting considerations are balanced between opposing claims

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Lake Chad - Delimitation and demarcation of the boundary in Lake Chad - Whether all attempts to effect same have failed

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Lake Chad Basin - Factors other than instruments relevant for the purpose of delimitation - Role of historical consolidation and effectivités

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Legal formalism - Need for court to refrain therefrom in favour of one party - Duty of Court to evolve a legal rule constituting a judicial compromise between legally recognised claims of territorial integrity and internationally recognised rights of aliens - Legal titles of both parties - Need to weigh and balance and take into consideration situation on the ground

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Legal title and effectivités - Relationship between -  Effect on claim of sovereignty over Bakassi Peninsula

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Maroua Declaration - Whether opposable and enforceable against Nigeria

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Protectorates - Features of

INTERNATIONAL LAW - ‘Protectorate’ - Meaning of

INTERNATIONAL LAW - State responsibility - Consideration of

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Treaty of 10 September 1884 - Legal force and legal significance of

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Treaty of 1884 - Whether a treaty properly so called

INTERNATIONAL LAW - Treaty of 1884 and Agreement of 1913 - Effect of reviewed

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Protectorate’ - Meaning of


1.            Whether sovereignty over the Peninsula of Bakassi is vested in Cameroon or Nigeria.

2.            Whether sovereignty over the areas in Lake Chad including the Nigerian settlements thereat is vested in the Nigeria.

3.            Whether Nigeria has violated and is violating the fundamental principle of respect for frontiers inherited from colonization (uti possidetis juris)

4.            Whether the actual course of the boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria can be definitively specified by reference to these instruments, to wit: paragraphs 3-60 of the Thomson/ Marchand Declaration, confirmed in the Exchange of Letters of 9 January 1931; the Nigeria (Protectorate and Cameroons) Order in Council of 2 August 1946, section 6(1) and second schedule thereto; paragraphs 13-21 of the Anglo-German Demarcation Agreement of 12 April 1913; Articles XV-XVII of the Anglo-German Treaty of 11 March 1913.


By its application dated 29 March, 1994, Cameroon instituted proceedings against Nigeria in respect of a dispute described as relating to the question of sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula. Cameroon maintained in its application that the delimitation (of the maritime boundary between the two states) has remained a partial one and that despite many attempts to complete it, the two parties have been unable to do so. Cameroon thus invites the Court “in order to avoid further incidents between the two countries, to determine the course of the maritime boundary between the two states beyond the line fixed in 1975”. The application relied on the declarations made by the two parties accepting the jurisdiction of the Court in order to found jurisdiction of the Court.

Furthermore, Cameroon on 6 June, 1994 filed in the Registry an additional application for the purpose of extending the subject of the dispute to a further dispute as relating essentially to the question of sovereignty over a part of the territory of Cameroon in the area of Lake Chad. Cameroon requested the Court “to specify definitively” the frontier between the two states from Lake Chad to the sea

Time-limits were subsequently fixed for the filing of Memorial of Cameroon and the Counter-Memorial of Nigeria. Cameroon filed its Memorial. But Nigeria filed preliminary objections (which consisted of eight grounds which are identified in the issues for determination) to the jurisdiction of the Court and the admissibility of the Application.

Nigeria’s preliminary objections were heard and rejected. In its judgment of 11 June 1998, the Court found that it had jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the merits of the dispute and that Cameroon’s requests were admissible.

Nigeria’s subsequent request of 28 June 1998 for interpretation of the judgment of June 11 1988 on the preliminary objections was heard and on 25 March 1999, the Court decided that Nigeria’s request was inadmissible.

On 16 November, 1998, Equitorial Guinea requested a copy of Cameroon’s Memorial and of the maps produced to the Court by the parties at the oral proceedings on the preliminary objections. The documents in question were transmitted to Equitorial Guinea on 8 December 1998.

Nigeria duly filed its Counter-Memorial together with counter-claims. Cameroon filed a Reply and Nigeria filed a Rejoinder.

On 30th June 1999, Equitorial Guinea filed an application for permission to intervene in the case pursuant to Article 62 of the Statute. The object of the application was stated to be to “protect the legal rights of the Republic of Equitorial Guinea in the Gulf of Guinea by all legal means available” and to “inform the Court of the nature of the legal rights and interests of Equitorial Guinea that could be affected by the Court’s decision in the light of the maritime boundary claims advanced by the parties to the case before the Court”. Equitorial Guinea did “not seek to become a party to the case”.

Neither Cameroon nor Nigeria objected in principle to the intervention. The written statement of Equitorial Guinea and the written observations of the Parties were then duly filed.

Public hearings were held on 18 February to 21 March 2002 at which the Court heard oral arguments of the Parties and Equitorial Guinea.

At the end of the written statement submitted by it in accordance with Article 85, paragraph 1, of the Rules of Court, Equitorial Guinea stated inter alia:

“Equatorial Guinea’s request is simple and straightfoward, founded in the jurisprudence of the court, makes good sense in the practice of the international community and is consistent with the practice of the three States in the region concerned: its request is that the court refrain from delimiting a maritime boundary between Nigeria and Cameroon in any area that is more proximate to Equatorial Guinea than to the parties to the case before the court.  Equatorial Guinea believes it has presented a number of good reasons for the court to adopt this position.”

Equitorial Guinea further stated with respect to the subject-matter of

the intervention in accordance with Article 85, paragraph 3 of the Rules of Court thus:

“[W]e ask the court not to delimit a maritime boundary between Cameroon and Nigeria in areas lying closer to Equatorial Guinea than to the coasts of the two parties or to express any opinion which could prejudice our interests in the context of our maritime boundary negotiations with our neighbours ... Safeguarding the interests of the third state in these proceedings means that the delimitation between Nigeria and Cameroon decided by the court must necessarily remain to the north of the median line between Equatorial Guinea’s

Bioko Island and the mainland.”

On 10 October 2002, the Court handed down its judgment.