Blood and Borders

The Responsibility to Protect and the Problem of the Kin-State

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Inter-ethnic conflict and genocide have demonstrated the dangers of failing to protect people targeted by fellow citizens. When minority groups in one country are targeted for killings or ethnic cleansing based on their group identity, whose responsibility is it to protect them? In particular, are they owed any protective responsibility by their kin-state? How can cross-border kinship ties strengthen greater pannational identity across borders without challenging territorially defined national security? As shown by the Russia-Georgia conflict over South Ossetia, unilateral intervention by a kin-state can lead to conflict within and between states. The protection of national minorities should not be used as an excuse to violate state sovereignty and generate interstate conflict.



The responsibility to prevent conflicts under R2P: The Nigeria–Bakassi situation

Nigeria and Cameroon, two neighbouring countries in West Africa, have been involved in border disputes and conflicts over the ownership and administration of the resource-rich Bakassi Peninsula. Following several failed diplomatic attempts to resolve the ownership of the disputed Bakassi Peninsula, which was under Nigerian administration until the early 1980s, Cameroon approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to determine the legal ownership of the peninsula. The ICJ decided that Cameroon owns the resource-rich peninsula and directed Nigeria to hand over the territory to Cameroon. However, the judgment did not end the hostilities between the two countries because Nigeria refused to give up the peninsula and maintained a visible military presence in the region, ostensibly to protect its citizens from the Cameroonian authorities. In 2006, Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, successfully brokered diplomatic negotiations between the two countries, which produced the Greentree Agreement (GTA) signed by both countries at Greentree, New York, on 12 June 2006. The terms of the GTA laid down procedures for a peaceful handover of the territory from Nigeria to Cameroon.


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