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Durham University

IBRU: Centre for Borders Research

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Third Annual Milefsky Award Honours the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission

(20 July 2020)

Work by the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission. Photo credit: D Baril & UNOWAS

IBRU, Durham University’s Centre for Borders Research, has awarded its third annual Raymond Milefsky Award to the Cameroon-Nigeria Mixed Commission (CNMC).

The Senegal-based CNMC was formed in 2002 to implement an International Court of Justice judgment. Since then, it has tirelessly carried out its mission of demarcating the two states’ 2,100-kilometre land boundary as well as delimiting the associated maritime boundary. The CNMC has also facilitated transfers of authority in the Lake Chad area and the Bakassi peninsula, where disputes prompted the initial motions filed with the ICJ.

To date, the CNMC has secured agreement on the precise location of over 2,000 kilometres of the 2,100-kilometer land boundary, and over 50 percent has been demarcated with control points and boundary pillars. The CNMC has also approved the establishment of an agreement for cross-border cooperation on hydrocarbon deposits that straddle the maritime boundary.

Notwithstanding exceptionally challenging terrain and attacks from insurgent groups, CNMC has placed a premium on engaging in confidence building initiatives, enlisting local involvement in the boundary-making process, and supporting economic development programmes to ameliorate the disruptions caused by the delimitation of new borders.

In granting the award, IBRU Director Philip Steinberg noted, “The Commission has been doing work that is truly extraordinary, combining the technical mission of boundary demarcation with extensive efforts at community reconciliation and outreach, all within an exceptionally hostile political environment. Put another way, the Cameroon-Nigeria Commission dramatically illustrates how the process of bordering, which is so often associated with division and discord, can also be a means for peace-building. This is a mission that aligns with IBRU’s, as well as with the values that motivated Ray Milefsky’s career.”

The Milefsky Award is made annually to an individual or organisation that has advanced boundary-making or cross-border cooperation. Previous recipients of the award include the Border Network for Human Rights, an El Paso, Texas-based organisation dedicated to fostering human rights along the US-Mexico border, and Professor Akihiro Iwashita, a leading boundary practitioner and scholar of Asian borders.

The Milefsky Award is made possible by a bequest from the estate of Raymond Milefsky, a long-time borders expert with the US Department of State who was a frequent tutor at IBRU training workshops. The award includes a cash prize of £745.

Nominations for the 2021 award will open in January 2021.

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