Title: The Uncompleted Decoloniza..
Date: July 13, 2007 6:45 PM Category: Tags:
The Uncompleted De-colonization Process
of the former Trust Territory of
By Mola Njoh Litumbe
Senior Citizen, Politician & Opinion Leader
The territory known up to 1961 as British Cameroons lies to the East of Nigeria and covers a surface area greater than at least 20 independent states that are members of the United Nations. It boasts a population currently estimated at between 5 to 6 million inhabitants. It was first administered by Britain under the Mandate system of the League of Nations, but on 13 December 1946 it became a UN Trust Territory with Great Britain as administering Trustee. To the east of British Cameroons was another UN Trust Territory known as French Cameroun, both territories having been previously part of German Kamerun over which Germany renounced all territorial claims at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. 2. Great Britain and France respectively were designated trustees of these two territories that were excised from German Kamerun. The UN defined the territorial boundaries of each, over which it executed separate but identical Trust Agreements, pursuant to Art. 76b of the UN Charter. The Trust territory of French Cameroun attained independence on 1 January, 1960. Art. 76 of the UN Charter states, inter alia:
“Art. 76. The basic objective of the [Trusteeship] system, in accordance with the Purposes of the United Nations laid down in Art. 1 of the present Charter, shall be: b. to promote the political, economic, social, and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the trust territories, and their progressive development towards self-government or independence as may be appropriate to the particular circumstances of each territory and its peoples and the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned, and as may be provided by the terms of each trusteeship agreement;”
3. In furtherance of the above objective, the United Nations executed a Trust Agreement with Britain in December 1946 in which the Trust Territory was clearly defined in Art.1, and the objective of the Trust stipulated in Art. 3., thus: “Art.1
The Territory to which this Agreement applies comprises that part of the Cameroons lying to the west of the boundary defined by the Franco-British Declaration of 10 July 1919, and more exactly defined in the Declaration made by the Governor of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria and the Governor of the Cameroons under French mandate which was confirmed by the exchange of Notes between His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and
the French Government on 9 January 1931. This line may, however, be slightly modified by mutual agreement between His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of the French Republic where an examination of the localities shows that it is desirable in the interests of the inhabitants.” “Art. 3 The Administering Authority undertakes to administer the Territory in such a manner as to achieve the basic objectives of the international trusteeship system laid down in Art 76 of the United Nations Charter. The Administering Authority further undertakes to collaborate fully with the General Assembly of the United Nations and the Trusteeship Council in the discharge of all their functions as defined in Art 87 of the United Nations Charter, and to facilitate any periodic visits to the Territory which they may deem necessary, at times to be agreed upon with the Administering Authority.”
4. In order to provide further guidance in the application of the above Articles, at the 160th plenary meeting on 18 November 1948, by Resolution 224 (III), the UN General Assembly resolved, inter alia:
“Noting that the Trusteeship Agreements for some of these territories authorize the Administering Authority concerned to constitute the Territory into a customs, fiscal or administrative union or federation with adjacent territories under its sovereignty or control and to establish common services between the Trust Territory and such adjacent territories, where such measures are not inconsistent with the basic objectives of the Trusteeship System and with the terms of the Trusteeship Agreement, ….. “Recalling that the General Assembly approved these Agreements upon the assurance of the Administering Powers that they do not consider the terms of the relevant articles in the Trusteeship Agreements as giving powers to the Administering Authority to establish any form of political association between the Trust Territories respectively administered by them and adjacent territories which would involve annexation of the Trust Territories in any sense or would have the effect of extinguishing their status as Trust Territories, …. “Recommends accordingly that the Trusteeship Council should: (c) Request whenever appropriate, an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice as to whether such unions are within the scope of and compatible with, the stipulations of the Charter and terms of the Trusteeship Agreements as approved by the General Assembly; ………”
5. Furthermore U.N. Resolution 1514 of 12 December 1960 had this to say in part:
“#5 Immediate steps shall be taken in trust territories, non-self governing territories 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 will and desire without any distinction as to race, creed or colour, in order to enable them enjoy complete independence and freedom.” “#6. Any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and the territorial integrity of a country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
6. It must be pointed out that the Articles of the UN Charter constitute, as it were, the Constitution of the United Nations. That being the case, they take precedence over any resolutions that are not in conformity therewith. This is what Art. 102 of the Charter states in relation to agreements of members of the UN which are not registered at the UN Secretariat:
“(1) Every Treaty and every international agreement entered into by any member of the United Nations after the present Charter comes into force shall as soon as possible be registered with the secretariat and published by it.” (2) No party to any such treaty or international agreement which has not been registered in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Article may invoke that treaty or agreement before any organ of the United Nations.”
7. The following salient facts emerge from the foregoing: (a) The United Nations signed an Agreement in 1946 designating Britain as Trustee over a clearly defined territory (country) known as British Cameroons, to administer it progressively towards the attainment of self-government or independence, pursuant to Art. 76b of the UN Charter. (The French did just this for the territory of French Cameroun, the adjacent UN Trust territory, which was granted independence on 1 Jan 1960). (b) While Britain was allowed to administer the UN territory of British Cameroons as part of its adjacent colony of Nigeria, and could divide the trust territory administratively to that end, the annexation of the trust territory in any sense to neighbouring Nigeria, or any attempt to extinguish the status of the trust territory, was prohibited. (c) Independence was to be granted without any conditions or reservations to the inhabitants of the trust territory. (d) Where doubts arose as to whether or not a union of the trust territory to a neigbouring state was compatible with the UN Charter and the terms of the Trusteeship Agreement, the Trusteeship Council was to seize the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the matter. (e) Any international agreement which a member of the UN wishes to rely on, that has not been registered at the UN secretariat, cannot be cited before any organ of the United Nations.
(NB. Both Nigeria and La Republique du Cameroun were already members of the UN in 1960, before the territory or country of British Cameroons was dismembered in 1961 and portions ceded to Nigeria or La Republique du Cameroun, without executing union treaties which were to be filed at the UN secretariat, thus contravening UN Art. 102, pars. (1) and (2). This omission is fatal, as the so-called unions are invalid, as they cannot be cited before any organ of the UN).
The concept of “Independence by Joining” 8. Apart altogether from the foregoing, the concept of “independence by joining” is a contradiction in terms. A country is either independent or sovereign or it is not. If it is to become independent subject first to complying with certain pre-conditions, then purely as a matter of common sense, it is not yet independent. It has first to be independent, before deciding
on its own who to join, if need be. The UN Resolution governing independence is clear on the point that independence has to be total, unfettered and unconditional. 9. Upon a careful review of the terms and conditions governing the trust that Her Majesty’s Government assumed over the trust territory of British Cameroons, and after a perusal of the British declassified documents on the subject (now available to the public and extracts of which are set out below), it is painfully obvious that Her Majesty’s Government, contrary to the Trust Agreement and UN Resolutions: Divided permanently the trust territory into Northern British Cameroons and Southern British Cameroons. Instead of leading the territory to unconditional independence, by surrendering political power to its inhabitants as it had to, it used its dominant position at the UN and maneuvered to have separate plebiscites organized for the two sectors it had created, failed to tally the results in so far as they related to only one trust territory, and used this as a pretext to cede part of the Trust territory to Nigeria and the other part to La Republique du Cameroon. In the result, the country known as British Cameroons was dismantled and dismembered, and phased out of existence, instead of being led to join the comity of independent nations. By transferring sovereignty over British Cameroons to other members of the UN, without ensuring that the “joining arrangements” complied with United Nations Art. 102, it left behind a political mess that seems likely to result in a major upheaval in the sub-region, thus endangering world peace. 10. The subtle argument is sometimes adduced that the “joining” of the dismembered parts of this UN Trust territory of British Cameroons was done following the freely expressed wishes of its inhabitants. This argument is hollow and cannot stand logical examination, for a people cannot express themselves freely unless they are free. At the material time British Cameroonians were not yet free, as the Administering Authority held the reigns of power. If, after the transfer of power to the inhabitants, a plebiscite was conducted to determine their wishes, such a result would have been sustainable, provided the votes are aggregated to reflect the voting pattern for the territory as a whole.
11. Extracts from British Declassified Documents
“In particular we must be very careful about independence and temporary sovereignty lest N. Cameroon is likely influenced not to join Nigeria. This I believe is the overriding consideration. So we must be more or less tough with Foncha that joining his Cameroun Republic does not allow sovereignty for a term (sic) of years and then a Federation.” “Any idea of a prolonged period of continued Trusteeship or of separate independent existence of the Southern Cameroons must be ruled out. This should be made clear at an early date to Foncha.”
“First of all I take it that objections hitherto seen to establishment of a separate Southern Cameroons State remain as strong as ever …. I am therefore assuming in what follows that our policy remains strongly against such a solution.” “If Southern Cameroons political parties did combine to take action envisaged in paragraph 2 of telegram under reference, this would place us in a very embarrassing position. With support of moderate Afro-Asians and others, we have always argued that separate independence would produce an entirely unviable State. We have supported a unanimous resolution prescribing plebiscite which involves choice between Nigeria and Cameroun Republic.” “I think it is important that we should not allow this matter to slide, as may happen if we are not sufficiently firm with Foncha – and perhaps also with Field – about the “third question” movement. I believe a firm attitude on this now may save us a great deal of trouble later and I think that H.M.G’s position should be made abundantly clear to Foncha in an effort to scotch tendencies towards the third question.” “Can one argue that the terms of the question “Do you wish to attain independence by joining the Republic?” allow for an interim period during which the Southern Cameroons will virtually have its own separate and independent existence while the terms of reunification with the Republic are being worked out? The words “by joining the Republic” taken literally appear to rule this out. But it may be that Foncha will seek to argue that if his solution, having been agreed to by Ahidjo, is not opposed by the U.K., the U.N. may be induced to wear it. There would be the better grounds for this if Endeley were prepared also to agree to this interpretation of the question. We do not like all this at all. But we like the alternatives even less. To go for complete independence or to seek to insert a third choice in the plebiscite would create major difficulties.” “What would worry me is if a sequel to the Southern Cameroons try for independence was the Northern Cameroons went the same way. That would really I think upset our relationship with Nigeria as a whole and for a long time to come, and that is something which we must at all costs avoid. The Southern Cameroons and its inhabitants are undoubtedly expendable in relation to this.”
The way forward 12. In the event of any doubt, the Secretary-General of the United Nations is respectfully invited to seize the International Court of Justice for a declaratory judgment as to whether or not British Cameroons achieved independence in accordance with the UN Charter and Resolutions. All parties concerned should be cited viz. Great Britain, Nigeria with La Republique du Cameroun (in view of their contest over Bakassi which is located in British Cameroons). Complainants should be invited too as part of the UN delegation.
13. It is my strong recommendation to all parties, particularly the Government of La Republique du Cameroun and the people of former British Cameroons, to behave with utmost restraint and dignity in their dealings with each other, pending a just and peaceful resolution of this matter. 14. Arrests, trials and imprisonment of persons who peacefully exercise their fundamental human rights should cease, because irrespective of the outcome of these proceedings, we are condemned to live together peacefully, either as citizens of adjacent states, or as citizens of one great Federal bi-lingual Republic. May the Good Lord show us the Light
Done this 12th day of July, 2007