Update: Talking Peace Away from the Spotlight
In July of last year, we looked at a series of peace processes taking place away (mostly) from the glare of the global media. Following the announcement on 30 January by the Secretary-General regarding the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela (see box below), we wanted to see how the other dialogues we highlighted seven months ago had evolved. Below is a rundown of the most recent developments in the UN’s good offices work in relation to the Greece-the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia “name issue”; the Equatorial Guinea-Gabon border dispute; and the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission.
Greece - the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia “Name Issue”
After his visit to Skopje, capital of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM), in the beginning of July 2017, Personal Envoy Matthew Nimetz met with Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias in Brussels on 17 July to discuss ways forward in finding a mutually acceptable solution to the “name issue” dividing the two countries.
Representatives of both Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia then met with the Personal Envoy in December 2017 in Brussels and again on 17 January 2018 in New York. Nimetz said in a press briefing after the New York meeting that he had given “a set of ideas, based on what the parties have been talking about recently, as maybe a helpful framework for the parties to consider as we go forward.” He added that he was “very hopeful that this process is moving in a positive direction. These are tough issues, we’ve been talking about them for about 25 years, so we know there’s a lot of strong positions and strong feelings in both countries, but there’s also a will in both countries to reach a settlement of this dispute.”
The Personal Envoy is visiting Athens and Skopje between 29 January and 1 February to continue the discussions with both parties.
Negotiations on the name dispute began in 1993 and have been held under the auspices of Personal Envoy Nimetz since 1999.
Equatorial Guinea - Gabon Border Dispute
At the end of a process facilitated by the United Nations, and specifically the Department for Political Affairs, the Presidents of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon signed on 15 November 2016 an agreement to submit their longstanding border dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). For the submission to take place both parties need to ratify the agreement. To date, the ratification process is still ongoing in the Gabonese parliament. Equatorial Guinea ratified the agreement on 9 January 2017.
The border dispute dates back to 1972 and revolves around which country may exercise sovereignty over the Mbanié, Cocotiers and Congas islands off the West African coast. DPA became involved in the mediation process in July 2003, at the request of the two countries. Two Special Advisors and Mediators – Yves Fortier of Canada from 2003 to 2008, and Nicolas Michel of Switzerland from 2008 to 2014 – and a Focal Point – Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman from 2014 onwards – facilitated the November 2016 political agreement, endorsed in Morocco.
Read more here: http://bit.ly/2u3zr1b
Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC)
The Cameroon Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC) was established in November 2002 to facilitate the implementation of the judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of 10 October 2002 on the Cameroon-Nigeria boundary and territorial dispute. The ruling effectively handed sovereignty over the Bakassi Peninsula and in the disputed area in the Lake Chad region to Cameroon. CNMC is chaired by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas.
The CNMC’s achievements include overseeing the withdrawal of Nigeria and the transfer of authority to Cameroon in the Lake Chad area, along the land boundary and on the Bakassi Peninsula; the delineation of the maritime boundary; and the exercise by Cameroon of its full right of sovereignty over the Bakassi zone.
To date, the parties have agreed on the demarcation of 2,005 km of an estimated 2,100 km of land boundary. Meanwhile, the construction and emplacement of pillars to physically mark the land boundary has continued. Of the estimated 2,696 boundary pillars that will be required, a total of 991 have been successfully built. However, insecurity in north-eastern Nigeria, mainly due to Boko Haram attacks as well as to increased criminality, continue to disrupt the CNMC’s work.