Is Nigeria under obligation to protect her citizens? Nigeria has seen an increase in the frequency and ferocity of attacks by nomadic herdsmen on farming communities. The President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari has stated that these attacks are carried out by foreigners. The Security agencies seem incapable to using intelligence to predict and protect Nigerians from these roving bands of “foreigners”.
This is a grave dereliction of duty as atrocity crimes are being committed.
A Polish-Jewish lawyer named Ralph Lemkin created the term genocide from the ancient Greek word “genos” (race, tribe) and the Latin “cide” (killing) to come up with the new word, “genocide.” in 2016, when visiting Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State, the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to Nigeria and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mrs. Angele Dikongue Atangana condemned the wanton killing and destruction of Nigerian citizens, in describing it as genocide.
That is a serious charge.
2. What Are The International Conventions Regarding Genocide?
The UN Security Council Resolution 1674, adopted on April 28, 2006, “reaffirms the provisions of the 2005 World Summit Outcome document regarding the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity”. Specifically state’s rights no longer superseded rights of individuals. This concept was declared in Article 1 stating that genocide “is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.” In the 2005 World Summit United Nations member States of which Nigeria is a member made a commitment to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, a principle referred to as the “Responsibility to Protect”.
So let’s define these terms
Genocide, according to international law, is a crime committed against members of a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Even though the victims of the crimes are individuals, they are targeted because of their membership, real or perceived, in one of these groups.
Crimes against humanity encompass acts that are part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population. Even if non-civilians might also become victims of the attack, for an act to be considered a crime against humanity, the ultimate target of the attack must be the civilian population.
War crimes: mostly international armed conflicts.
The attacks happening internally in Nigeria bear resemblance to Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. In fact
So according to the letter of the UN and the Statement of the UN own representative, the attacks qualify to be investigated as Genocidal and Crimes Against Humanity.
3. What Is Nigeria Responsibility?
The responsibilities that fall on States through ratified treaties or customary law entail an obligation not only to punish atrocity crimes but also to prevent them. In some cases, such as for the crime of genocide, the obligation to prevent contained in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Article I) has become a norm of customary international law, which means that it is mandatory for all States, regardless of whether they have ratified the Convention.
For Emphasis…. mandatory for all States, regardless of whether they have ratified the Convention
4. What is the responsibility of the International Community?
The 2005 World Summit Outcome Documents specifies that Member States have a responsibility to prevent the commission of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, as well as incitement to these acts. When Member States “manifestly fail” in their responsibility to protect populations from atrocity crimes, the international community has also declared that it is prepared to take collective action, in a “timely and decisive manner”, to protect populations from these crimes, using all available tools, and bearing in mind the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law.
So let’s be clear and summarize..
There is a mandated “responsibility to protect” duty on all member states, and all citizens of Nigeria.
Nigeria has a commitment to protect her populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.
This commitment is mandatory for all States, regardless of whether they have ratified the UN Convention
When Member States “manifestly fail” in their responsibility to protect populations from atrocity crimes, the international community can take collective action
This is a clear statement, and the Nigerian government must realize they are under intentional obligation to protect her citizens from attacks from “foreigners”