The Ambazonia War of Independence is both Legitimate and Legal – Cardinal Tumi Survey
In the buildup to the Anglophone General Conference (AGC), the Cardinal Tumi led team organized a survey to determine the dominant position amongst Ambazonians. Through this survey, Ambazonia’s identity, international treaty-based boundaries, and right to self-determination again emerged dominant with 70% of respondents voting for absolute independence. The Ambazonian War of Independence started with verbal arguments affirming Ambazonia’s sovereignty, right to self-determination, territoriality, and international personality. The world remained, unfortunately, silent despite Cameroun’s encroachment, systematic, and gross violations of Ambazonia’s human rights, sovereignty, and right to self-determination. These violations resulted in the war Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya declared against Ambazonia. The war is intentionally destroying the people of Ambazonia and has caused more than 6000 deaths and about a million refugees and internally displaced people. This paper analysis the results of the survey and demonstrates how Cardinal Tumi’s led AGC reinforced Ambazonia’s right to self-determination, self-identification, and international treaty-based boundaries.
I. Ambazonia’s International Personal and Self-identification
Ambazonians have clearly demonstrated and proven that following historical and legal facts, constitute a people under international law and identify themselves as such. The AGC recognized this self-identification and limited their survey to Ambazonians. This recognition is without doubt as recognized in numerous and reaffirmed by the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights. Based on this internationally recognized self-identification, Cardinal Tumi’s AGC directed their questionnaires to Ambazonians. Though they referred to Ambazonians as “English Speaking Cameroonians,” it must be reiterated that the surveyed population consider themselves Ambazonians as 70% of respondents dissociated themselves from Cameroon and have an identity completely different from Cameroon’s. The survey validates and affirms Ambazonians as a group of people who self-identify as unique and occupy a territory recognized by international boundaries.
II. Ambazonia is clearly delimited by international treaty-based boundaries
The population of Ambazonia occupies the territory delimited by the London Treaty of 1916 later refined in the Milner-Simon Agreement in an international treaty entered by the United Kingdom and France, erstwhile, colonial masters. In 1929 and 1930, the United Kingdom and France in another international treaty entered the Milner-Simon Declaration clarifying the boundaries between Ambazonia and Cameroun. Further, in 1923, the UK in a British Order in Council decided to delimit Ambazonia from the British Northern Cameroons. The United Nations recognized this separation and recognized the two people as separate entities under International Law. By this recognition, the UN and the international community recognized Ambazonia’s boundaries covered an extensive 42,710km2. These boundaries have remained firm and no other international treaty rescinded the international-treaty based boundary to authorize Cameroon’s incursion and encroachment into Ambazonia.
Cardinal Tumi’s AGC recognizes and respects this international treaty-based boundary by limiting their survey to Ambazonians who self-identify and occupy the territory under discussion. Also, by basing their self-recognition on international law and territory delimited by international treaty, Ambazonians contest Cameroon’s encroachment into Ambazonia’s territory because the encroachment violates international law and Ambazonians’ rights.
III. Ambazonia’s right to external self-determination
The AGC’s decision to survey Ambazonians following recent quests to fully exercise their right to self-determination falls in line with effective enforcement of this right. In the 1960’s the right to self-determination crystallized into a norm of international law from which derogations are not authorized. Not even the United Nations could derogate from enforcing the right to self-determination. In exercising the right to self-determination, people freely determine their future without any external influences or manipulation. By largely voting for complete independence in the AGC organized survey, Ambazonians once again demonstrated their desire to fully enforce their right to self-determination without external influence.
Since 1960, Ambazonians have clearly demonstrated their discontent over the violation of their right to self-determination by the UN in 1960 and Cameroun in 1961. While the AGC sought to determine the causes of the ongoing armed war of independence, they carefully prevented their respondents from referencing the 1960-1 decolonization process that violated Ambazonia’s right to self-determination. The UN Charter in Article 55 provides for “equal rights and self-determination of peoples” and Article 1 provides the “principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples and to … strengthen universal peace.” Similarly, Article 76 was to ensure decolonization through the enforcement of the right to self-determination to ensure international peace through the “freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned.”
The UN through resolutions 1352 and 1608 violated Ambazonia’s right to self-determination enshrined in previous UN Resolutions, UN Charter, and International Conventions on Human Rights. Resolution 1514 (XV) defined the breadth and extent of methods through which non-self-governing peoples could attain independence, that is, through free association, integration, and emergence. UN Resolutions 1352 and 1608 limited Ambazonia’s choice to attaining independence by “joining” either Nigeria or Cameroun.
In 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) held in the case of the Chagos Archipelago that “although 1514 (XV) is formally a recommendation, it has a declaratory character with regard to the right to self-determination as a customary norm.” In the same case, the ICJ asserted that UN Resolution 1514 (XV) clearly states that the “subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination, and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights [and] is contrary to the character of the United Nations.”
Violating Ambazonia’s right to self-determination remains the root cause of the ongoing Ambazonia War of Independence. Consequently, the AGC’s failure to reference the violation of Ambazonia’s right to self-determination ultimately truncated any sustainable solutions to the Ambazonian War of Independence.
The AGC’s survey plainly determined that Ambazonians are conscious of their right to self-determination, their territorial boundaries, and their international identity. With 70% of the surveyed population vouching for complete and total independence from Cameroon, the AGC’s survey remains determinate.
Ambazonians conducted a poll in 1995 to determine whether most of them wanted independence or not. 98% voted for the termination of Cameroun’s occupation. Ambazonia is occupied by Cameroun. The termination of occupation does not require any vote. Nonetheless, these surveys should send a powerful signal to the world that the Ambazonian resistance against Cameroun is not only backed by sound legal arguments but that it is also legitimate