RE-APPRAISING THE RIGHT OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND MINORITIES TO SELF- DETERMINATION AND THE QUESTION OF TERRORISM IN THE OIL RICH NIGER- DELTA REGION OF NIGERIA



I.         BACKGROUND OF PROPOSED RESEARCH
Nigeria is Africans most populous nation and the world’s largest collection of people of the black race. The 2006 national census conducted in the country estimates the population of the country to be well over 140 million people consisting of about 250 ethnic groups, who speak close to 400 languages. There are clearly three ethic majorities, the Hausa-Fulani, who are predominantly found in the northern part of the country, the Yorubas in the west and the Ibos in the East. The southern most part of the country traditionally known as the Niger-Delta, is home to some of the country’s ethnic minorities, which include mainly the Ijaws, the Urhobos, Isokos, Ibibios, Itsekiris, Orons, Ukwanis, Ogonis, Effiks, Abribas, Andonis, and Ikwerres amongst other smaller minority groups. The Niger-Delta itself comprise of a vast marsh land covering over 70,000  square kilometres of peculiar terrain located along the Atlantic coast of west Africa between the Bights of Benin and Biafra in the Deltas of the Niger river where it drains into the Atlantic ocean. 

The region is classified as the third largest wetlands in the world and the greatest extension of fresh water swamps in Africa and a pan organic mixture of wild life and ecology. Today however, the Niger-Delta is not known for its rich bio-diversity as much as it is known for its large reservoir of crude oil and gas deposits and its capacity to quench the global hunger for oil. Little is said or known about the deleterious effect which the crude business of crude oil has caused to the beautiful environment and rich bio-diversity of the region. Presently, Nigeria is listed as Africa’s second largest oil producer and the world’s sixth most important exporter of crude oil. Most of this oil is found in small fields in the coastal areas of the Niger-Delta. As a result, the entire Niger-Delta region (both onshore and offshore) is inundated with unmistakable signs of exploration and exploitation activities. The benefits of this oil production are huge for Nigeria, totally dominating the entire Nigerian economy. However, the same thing can not be said of the oil producing communities of the Niger-Delta. This region clearly epitomizes the phenomenon of the curse of oil. Oil production in the region has had severe environment and human consequences for the indigenous peoples who inhabit the areas surrounding oil extraction. These indigenous minority communities receive little economic benefits from the extraction of the natural resources beneath their land. Development strategies focused at increasing foreign investment to boost exports in the oil industry have not resulted in overall development, especially in the Niger-Delta region; instead revenue gained has helped to benefit mainly foreign nations and Nigerian government elites more than native populations. The only visible signs of oil operations that communities in the Niger-Delta live with are the pollution, degradation of the environment, destruction and waste of the natural resources, derogation of the values and culture of the people, and poverty. The federal government of Nigeria and multinational oil companies that operate on the region seem to act in concert with the aim of silencing the views of the people and denying their social conditions and state of development. Agriculture which used to be the mainstay of the Niger-Delta local economy and the people’s major means of livelihood has been totally devastated by activities associated with oil extraction. The people of the Niger-Delta believe that they have no substantial benefit to  show for their sacrifices despite being the goose that laid the golden egg which translates to economic success that underpin  the unity of the Nigerian state. The region is liken to the proverbial African are that fetches the wood but sleeps in the cold. As a result of the deleterious activities of the oil companies in the Niger-Delta and the growing frustration of the indigenous peoples in the region of their inability to hold the Nigerian state and oil companies accountable for sustainable  development in the area and their reasonable participation in the oil extractive industry on their land, beginning from the early 1990’s there has been mounting agitations from the people in patches of resistant  movements, sometimes organized at village or clan levels. These agitations over the past decade have grown in strength, outlook and purpose and are beginning to converge into more formidable militant guerrilla forces. Subsequent Nigerian governments have done little to alleviate  the mounting agitations, rather, military incursion are used operating any uprising in a brutal manner for examples, villages such as Ummuechem, Odi and Odioma were at different times practically razed down are people ranging form the high hundred to the low thousand were kicked and maimed by Nigerian military.
After the hanging of Ken Saro- Wiwa in 1995 violence are military simply exploded taking the next level. Militant groups operating in the Niger-Delta began to sabotage government and oil companies installation, kidnap are take expatriates working in the oil industry hostages extort oil companies, engage in illegal oil bunkering sometimes kill and maim their victims. At least on two occasions on militants actually took responsibility for car-bombs in regional cities which killed symbolically marked the turning point in the conflict. What is interesting is that the demand of the resistant forces and the various ethno-national groups fall short of absolute secession from Nigeria. These groups claim to invoke their right of self-determination as indigenous peoples and ethnic-national minorities under international human rights region for special protection of these category of people to demand among other things, political and economic autonomy, convention off an autonomous sovereign national conference to re-negotiate the terms of national co-existence and unity re-organization of the polity, resource control repeat of obnoxious laws, development of minority ethnic languages and culture and preservation of regions ecology environment. The Kaima declaration for instance  states as follows:

‘ All lands and natural resources (including mineral resources) within the Ijaw territory belong to the Ijaw communities and are the basis of our survival … we cease to recognise all undemocratic decrees that rob our people communities of the right to ownership and control of our lives and resources, which were enacted without our participation and consent. These include the land use Decree and Petroleum Decree …

The conglomeration of ethno-nationality groups in the Niger-Delta have at various times attempted to present their case/claims as indigenous people to the government or Nigeria and the organs of the united Nation in order to rally/rake various international sympathy and support their cause. Meanwhile successive Nigerian and other foreign government have contained to label and treat Niger Delta militants are terrorist. On the other hand the militants consider themselves as liberation and resistant forces fighting for their right of self –determination as indigenous peoples, against the common evil of the Nigeria government and multinational oil companies eco-terrorism and ecological war perpetrated against the Niger-Delta region and its indigenous inhabitants.


II.       STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The government of Nigeria is locked in a small-scale guerrilla war with militants in the Niger-Delta region of the country, an area where 95% of Nations annual revenue is derived and which supplies at least 5% of the world’s energy needs. The war is threatening to explode into full blown civil war, which would affect other constituent elements of the polity, the West African sub-region and international peace and security. The militants have called themselves liberation and resistant forces who are fighting to realize their right of self-determination which have been denied of them, and have blamed successive governments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of sundry offences, the topmost being the blundering of the natural resource beneath their land without any commensurate benefit for them, abuse of their common humanity and dampening desire for peaceful negotiation and constructive consultations with the people of the region. They claim to be acting in their collective interest to reflect and enforce their right of self –determination as indigenous peoples and ethnic and national minorities. The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the other hand insists that the activities of militants constitute terrorism and that the militants groups are terrorist organizations who must be treated like any other common criminal. There seem to be no respite in the Niger-Delta / federal government crisis. A truce is yet to be negotiated notwithstanding several national and international efforts to achieve one. The situation in the Niger-Delta raises the perennial question of how to categorize the injurious activities of a group of persons who claim to be fighting for their right of self-determination in international law, albeit as indigenous peoples and ethnic / national minorities.

III.      RESEARCH QUESTIONS/ OBJECTIVES OF PROPOSED STUDY

Following identification of the problem which the researcher has observed, several research questions are formulated as the fulcrum of the proposed research collectively to view of the diversity of the various peoples of the Niger-Delta region, can to qualify to called “peoples”

a)     Do the people of the Niger-Delta constitute ‘people’ who are entitled to the right of self- determination within the framework of the concept of indigenous people are national minorities?
b)     Can the people of the Niger-Delta be termed indigenous peoples or even minorities do they satisfy the criteria for being considered as such?
c)     How should the people of the Niger-Delta exercise their right to self determination, they entitled to use violence or armed forces?
d)     Considering the situation of the people of the Niger-Delta, what mode and means of self-determination are they entitled to claim and how could they achieve it?
e)     Can the militants in the Niger-Delta be labelled terrorists in view of their motivations if so do their activities among to domestic and international terrorism?
f)      Can a people fighting for their right of self –determination to labelled terrorists by the people or group who deny them that right?
g)     Would all the militant giving in the Niger-Delta be considered an liberation establish fighter? What are the motivations of groups? Are they criminal element among the militants.
h)     How have political considerations played a role in the Niger-Delta crises. How does it affect the political will of Nigerian government to peacefully address the crisis?
i)       Are there any impediments militating  against the right of the Niger-Delta peoples to self-determination in the Nigerian policy. Are the Niger-Delta people colonized internally
j)       Is the government of Nigeria the continuation of the colonial master evoking colonial policies and creating colonial experience in the Niger-Delta?
k)     What are the rights of  indigenous peoples and minorities which the Niger-Delta people claim they are being denied? Are they justified in their demands against the federal government of Nigeria?
l)       Is the government of the federal republic of Nigeria an extension of the colonial master who has continued with colonial policies and reinforce the colonial experience in the Niger-Delta a successor state of the colonial Nigerian state.
m)   Does the activities and actions of the federal government of Nigeria in the Niger-Delta region constitute state terrorism?
n)     Does the activities of the Nigerian government are multinational oil companies in the Niger-Delta constitute eco-terrorism .
o)     Do the multinational oil companies operating in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria fulfil their social responsibility  are obligation to the people of the region.
p)     What are the best wings of tackling the Niger-Delta crisis? Should they involve international regional and domestic efforts.

IV.     PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

The purpose of the proposal research is to assess the claims are activities of the peoples of the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria and those of the government federal republic of Nigeria in the light of the inter junction between international human rights law (right of indigenous peoples minorities self –determination) and international criminal law terrorism)and humanitarian law (states of the militants). The research will also test the hypotheni that the assertion of the right of self-determination by aggrieved indigenous peoples and minorities would preclude the crime of terrorism under customary and contemporary treaty and international law.




V.       SCHOLARLY CONTEXT AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK              

Few international human rights concepts have attracted such huge commentary and yet still remained largely an enigma as the concept of self-determination. This proposed PhD research topic hopes to re-visit the basic tenets of the concept especially when interpreted within the context of other aspects of international criminal and human rights law. Thus, the research proposes to discuss the concept of self-determination from the view point of rights accorded to two specially protected group species under international and ethnic minorities. A natural corollary of any discussion of the right of self-determination exercised by these groups of persons is the question of terrorism. The research thus proposes to dissect the numerous question which are raised as a result of the synchronization of these conceptual divides. The Niger-Delta region of Nigeria is chosen as a national case study to test the hypotheses drawn from the theoretical and conceptual analysis.
This part of the proposal intends to establish the similarly context and conceptual framework within which the research questions would be develop and answered. It also contains a brief literature review of the relevant literature and current thinking of experts in the field. This portion is relevant because it will expose the current scope and limitation of research already conducted by expert within the area of interest and also cave a niche for the present research topic within the already established literature and scholarly works.                                              

i).        Self Determination Meaning, Contents And Beneficiaries

The concept of self determination is probably one of the most problematic elusive and vague concepts in international law. Nevertheless it has attained the status of erga omnes obligation in customary international law for the observance of all states. It has been observed that the right to self-determination first appeared in positive international law in Article 1 and 55 of the United Nations charter. Cassese has however noted that the right was introduced as a norm of international relations as far back as during the First World War through separate contributions of the socialist leaders, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin and the American president, Woodrow Wilson. Ever since it found its way into the United Nations charter the concept has remained a recurrent decimal in numerous international instruments and is now central in the jurisprudence of international human rights law. The available of international legal instruments which have provided for the right have all proceeded under the premises that all peoples have the right of self-determination by virtue of which they are entitled to freely preserve their economic social and cultural development.
The Euphoria that had greeted the inclusion of the right of self-determination in international legal instruments had hardly died down when it become clear that the enabling provisions in these instruments actually convey little meaning in terms of the scope, content and beneficiaries of the right created. This lack of clarity has indeed contributed to the reason why the concept has remained so problematic.
The quebee study for instance acknowledged the major problem associated with the concept of self-determination in one sentence as follow:
  
“central to the debate which we do not claim to resolve on the scope of the principle of the right of self-determination is the fact that though there is no doubt that all peoples have the right  to self determination there is no universally accepted definition of the word peoples nor of the notion of self-determination”.

The study which focused on the international legality of Quebec secession from Canada  dwelled extensively on two of the most contentious aspects of the right of self determination, that is what should be included in the right on its contents and who can access the contents of the rights or subjects of the right. Vyver in his article wrote that for the concept of self-determination to be understood in international law certain presuppositions must be constantly borne in mind. He noted that the concept of self –determination has over the years acquired different shades of meaning, which must be clearly distinguished and that the meaning to be attributed to the concept at any particular instance must always determined by the identity of the “people”
Who have a claim to that right.  The writer identified three phrases in the development of the right of self-determination. In the first phrase the writer maintained that the concept was used as a principle to legitimize the disintegration of some of the powerful empires during the early part of the 20th century. At this stage, secession of “peoples” from these empires was the focus of the concept and the right was vested in ethnic communities, nations or nationalities primarily defined by language or culture. In the second phase of development of the right according to Vyver’s thesis, it acquired a distinctly anti-colonial nuance in the post-world war II era. It is good to note that most writers and commentators dwell so much on this era, which was the defining moment of the United Nations approach to concept bedrock of the principle of self-determination. These writers have refused to move beyond the era of UN approach to the concept. In this second phase, according to Nathaniel Berman, self-determination was a right of peoples that do not govern themselves, particularly people’s dominated by geographically distant colonial powers.
Numerous U.N instruments repeatedly ascribed the right of Self-determination exclusively to three kinds of peoples, i.e. peoples under colonial domination, peoples subject to alien occupation and peoples under racist regimes.
The third phase of Vyvers thesis of the development of the right of self-determination, in his words “chronologically emerged some what later than the decolonization phase but cannot be separated from the latter in terms of time. The writer believes that self-determination in this phase is seen as a certain entitlement of segments of the population of independent, non –racist states. Though, the veracity of this claim may not be acceptable to all, this phase of Vyvers thesis is fairly popular with contemporary experts and commentators. Antonio Cassese for instance opined that the right to self-determination as enunciated in Article 1 of the international covenant on civil and Political Rights 1966 was not confined to non-independent people but also belong to national or ethnic groups constitutionally recognized as a component part of a multinational state. If this statement is fine, then perhaps the people of the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria who are clearly national and ethnic minorities may after all be entitled to exercise their right of self-determination. The propriety or otherwise of the method which they choose to use to exercise that right is however a different thing. Gaetans Arangio- Raiz pointed out that the UN declaration on principles of international law  concerning friendly and relations and co-operation among states in accordance with the charter of the United Nations of 1970 made the right of  self-determination applicable to “all peoples” irrespective of their political arrangement. So also is the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, which defined the right of self-determination of peoples as entitling “all people” always… in full freedom, to determine,… without external interference, and to pursue as they wish their political, economic, social and cultural development.
The term ‘peoples’ has been interpreted so widely that national ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples could easily be identified within this group which is entitled to exercise the right of self-determination. In the Greco-Bulgarian communities case of 1930, the Permanent Court of International Justice gave  the following definition of the “general traditional concept” of a community, which in contemporary usage would be called “a people”

“the community is a group of persons living in a given country or locality, having a race, religion, language and traditions of their own and united by the identity of race religion, language and traditions in a sentiment of solidarity, with a view to preserving their traditions maintaining their form of worship, ensuring the instruction and upbringing of their children in accordance with the spirit and tradition of their race and rendering mutual assistance to each other”.

The UNESCO expert also discussed the characteristics of what may be termed a ‘people’. They however rejected the temptation to be drawn in the definition imbroglio of the term.
                                                                                      
“Inherent in description (but not a definition) of a ‘people’… A group of individual human beings who enjoy some or all of the following common features
a)     a common historical tradition
b)     racial or ethnic identify
c)     cultural homogeneity
d)     linguistic unity
e)     religious or ideological affinity
f)      territorial connection
g)     common economic life

This description of “people” may be very useful when analyzing the features of the people of the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria in the process of determining whether they are entitled to the status of ‘people’ for the purpose of the right of self-determination.
As regards the mode of exercising the right of self-determination which is otherwise also referred to as the content of the  right, the major controversy is whether a ‘people’ could rightly claim a right to secede in their exercise of the right of self-determination? In the opinion of Hannum, since the art of secession conflicts with the territorial integrity of states, the UN had chose to reconcile the conflict in the exercise of the right of self-determination by providing for the right of self-determination in only two instances, that is the tight of freedom for a colonial people or external self-determination, and the independence of a state’s population from foreign intervention or internal self-determination. Neuberger agrees with Hannum that drafters of the United Nations charter never intended it to support a right of secession and that UN practice during decolonization in Africa supports this conclusion. He also agrees that the content of the right of self-determination can be divided into internal and external aspects. However, he departs from Hannam by arguing that there is no inherent link between independence and self-determination. To him, external self-determination is true independence for a state, as for example, Nigeria independence from Britain in 1960, or an international recognition of people hood, for example East Timor. He argues that internal self-determination can be autonomy or federalism for a distinct people within a state, for example, a democratic state like Quebec in Canada or non-democratic state like the Georgians in the former USSR or even a conglomerate of democratic federating units within a democratic federal state like the federating states that make up the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. Neuberger, further categorize self-determination into grand self-determination which to him entails true internationally recognized sovereignty and small self-determination which deals with the internal structure and politics of the state.
Vyver devise any correlation between self-determination and the right of session. He asserts that a peoples’ right to self-determination does not include a right to secede, not even in instances where the dominant group acts in breach of the peoples legitimate expectations. Vyver reasons that all international instruments which proclaim the right of self-determination almost invariably also provide for the inviolability of the territorial integrity of existing states, and thus, self-determination must necessarily denote something less than secession. To him self-determination, of peoples is a matter of national independence in the case of peoples subject to colonial rule or foreign domination, participation in the political processes of a country in cases where the people concerned have denied such participation on a discriminatory basis, and sphere sovereignty of peoples that uphold a strong (sectional) group identity within a political community. Vyvers argument may be summarized simply to mean that the modes of exercising the right of self-determination may vary according to the kind of people who claim the right depending on the characteristics which they exhibit. Other authors who seem to agree with Vyers argument have decided to look elsewhere in the absence of a right of secession so as to give expression to the content of the right of self-determination. These writers have thus identified such concepts as ‘federalism’,  ‘consociational democracy’, ‘self-government’, and ‘autonomy regimes’ as the true expression of the notion, meaning and content of self-determination.                                           
Notwithstanding the rejection of the right of secession by some experts and commentators as a mode of implementing the right of self-determination, majority of the literature on this subject tend to accept the existence of the right in exceptional circumstances. Many authors are of the opinion that there is a right of secession if the people concerned are discriminated against in such a way other means. Even Vyver at some point in his thesis seem to have accepted the inevitability of secession in certain circumstances. He stated that in terms of the declaration on principles of international law concerning friendly relations and co- operation among states in accordance with the charter of UN, secession (or the restricting of national frontiers) will indeed be lawful, provided the decision to secede is freely determined by a people. He however opines that secession is only recognized in international law in two instances, that is: if a decision to secede is freely determined by a people that is to say, by a cross-section of the entire population of the state to be divided but not only the inhabitants of the region whishing to secede, and secondly, if following armed conflict national boundaries are re-drawn as part of the peace treaty.


ii.        Self-Determination And The Right Of Indigenous   
                   

There is a large body of literature on the right of indigenous peoples rights itself is fairly recent, emerging in the post-world war II era as a result of agitation from indigenous peoples of the America, Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the world. The campaign for indigenous rights gained momentum in 1960’s and 1970’s an did achieved tremendous results. Anaga and Williams reported that not only did indigenous peoples right attend the front banner in international human right discourse, but also new stand other international institutions like the world bank, the inter-American  Development bank, the European union, domestic legislations and policies and judge made law of states.
Most writes on the right of indigenous people tend to associate the claims of this group peoples to some sort of historical arrangement. The usual argument is the historical pre-existence  of the people on the land prior to the formation of the modern state and their conventional colonialism by the dominant group, some of the literature concludes that in most cases during the process of colonialism, the colonialists used strategies such as negotiation and persuasion in order to penetrate the strongholds, resulted in the signing of agreements and treaties between the  conquering powers and the indigenous peoples most of which were hardly kept. Sunders termed this type of argument ‘lists rical-legal’ form of justifying in indigenous peoples claim of rights.
There is also a real problem of the definition of people who may be qualified to be called indigenous. Most of the definitions however ten to emphasis the historical and pre-occupation characteristics of the people. Professor Kingsbury in his analysis of the various definitions provided by two different chairperson- Rapporteur of the UN working group on indigenous populations, Mr. Jose Martinez Cob and professor Erica Irene daes. He concludes by listing as “ essential requirements” of an indigenous people, self-identification as a distinct ethnic group, historical experience of or contingent vulnerability to serene disruption, dislocation or exploitation, long connection with the region, and wish to retain a distinct identity. As ‘strong indicia’, he mentions non-dominance in the national (or regional) society (ordinarily required); close cultural affinity with a particular area of land or territories (ordinarily required),and historical community (especially by descent) with prior occupants of land in the region. He also mentioned as ‘other indicia” socio-economic and socio-cultural differences from the ambient population, district objective characteristics such as language, race and material or spiritual culture regarded as indigenous by the ambient population or treated as such in legal and administration arrangement. This sets of indicia would make any interesting for the investigation of the indigenous states claimed by the people of the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria whose claims this improved .
Wiessner seems to have identified what he called the five basic claims of indigenous peoples: (a)traditional lands should be respected and restored, as a means of indigenous peoples physical, cultural and spiritual survival. (b) indigenous peoples should have the right to practice their traditions  and celebrate their culture and spirituality with all its implications (c) they should have access to welfare health, educational and social services, (d) conquering nations should have the right of self-determination . wiessner observes with respect to these  claims that “ consensus has emerged which has been translated with whatever imperfections, into widespread, virtually uniform state practice. He however cautioned that the real controversy is about the prospects and best proposals for enforcement of any catalogue indigenous right.
Intrinsic in Wiessner’s poser, is the question of the mode of implementing the right self-determination of indigenous peoples. That indigenous peoples are entitled to demanded exercise the right of self-determination is no longer a matter of controversy. But how they should exercise that right is the problem. This controversy is caught between the so-called concepts of internal and external self-determination in the context of indigenous peoples, in terms of whether in the exercise of that right indigenous peoples are entitled to the right of secession or whether should only expect to enjoy internal restricting and autonomy? There are so many views that have been put toward by experts and commentators in resolution of this controversy, including a provision in the Declaration the right of indigenous peoples. However Anaya’s thesis is the most interestingly outstanding and worthy mentioning. He defined the common argument of most writers on this issue and instant suggested a reconceptualization of the right of self-determination. He proposes that the right of self-determination entails two distinct aspects: the substantive and remedial forms. The substantive aspect in  turn consists of constitutive self-determination, which according to him describes the formation of the governing  structure and the minimum levels of participation of the people in that process and outgoing self-determination which describes the governing order under which individuals and groups are able to make meaningful choices touching upon all spheres of life on a continuous basis. Anaya believes that these two aspects taken together account on  the formation of a governing system and meaningful participation in the on-going functioning of that system. However according to him, where the substantive aspect fails,  then the redial prescription  of self-determination is immediately evoked. This remedial aspect mat involve a whole lot of possibilities ranging from restricting of the governmental order, autonomy or self-government and even  succession, depending on the degree of violation of the substantive aspect.
Anaya’s thesis focuses on isolation of substantive norm of self-determination and construction a remedy that will best redress the violations’ constitutive and on-going elements it is therefore applicable to all categories of peoples including indigenous peoples  in his view the remedies “need not entail the formation of new states although secession “ may be the appropriate remedial option in limited contexts where substantive self-determination for a particular group cannot otherwise be assured or where there is a net gain in the overall welfare of all concerned indigenous peoples, rights of.

 

iii.       Self-Determination Versus Terrorism


The most problematic issue in the operational right of self-determination is the attempt to distinguish between a group of people involved in a legitimate struggle for their right of self-determination and terrorists. Experts and commentators have admitted that there is only a thin blue line that distinguishes between the two concepts. Unfortunately they also admitted that states and governments against whom armed force is used in the claim of the right of self-determination almost always considers these using force as terrorists. The debate really, is whether those in whom reside the right of self-determination could legitimately use armed force to realize that right against the backdrop of established principle rules of international law against terrorism. The debate necessarily encapsulates the rights and status of national liberation movements in contemporary public international and humanitarian law. An analysis of the different shades of opinion of experts and commentators on this very important aspect of the interjunction between international human rights law, international criminal law and humanitarian law would be useful as conceptual framework in studying the contradictions that may have arisen in the Niger-Delta crisis which constitute the fundamental problem to be addressed in this proposed research.
It has been suggested that the controversy over the exact meaning, content and beneficiaries of the right of self-determination and the means and methods which may be utilized to exercise or enforce that right has been the major obstacle to the development of both a comprehensive definition and treaty on terrorism. This has in turn detrimentally affected the status of ‘people’ struggling for their right of self-determination. The international community has really not helped matters in this regards because in the course of promulgating treaties on aspects of international terrorism it has often included specific language that reaffirms the right of self-determination and uphold the legitimacy of the struggle of national liberation movements. Several General Assembly resolutions on the subject of terrorism have consistently reaffirmed the legitimacy of self-determination and the struggle for national liberation against colonial, racist and alien requires, while condemning terrorism. Also some of the regional instruments relating to the prevention and suppression of terrorism have made it clear that the prohibition of terrorist acts cannot prejudice the right of self-determination. The application of these international instruments have been clarified by cristescu where he pointed out that what distinguishes people having the right to self-determination from groups that do not, include generally, a history of independence or self-rule in an identitable terrorism, a distinct culture and a will and capacity to regain self-governance.
It is generally agreed that a necessary component of the right to self-determination is the right   to its realization and the right to take steps to that end. However, the precise scope of this right  as a right to use armed force, to revolt, rebel or engage in war of national liberation is what has held the attention of writers. Notwithstanding, international instruments that seem to legitimize the struggle of some class of people for self-determination by using all appropriate means at their disposal, it is suggested that international law had never recognized an unlimited right to use armed force. Nonetheless, some scholars insist that there is automatic link between the right of self-determination and the use of force, while others require the occupying power forcibly to deny self-determination before the right to use force ripens. In either case, it has also been held that the application of both jus cogens and erga omnes to the right of self-determination may justify the granting to those using force a higher status as combatants in humanitarian law.
If and when a people fighting for their right of self-determination are classified as “combatants” which is highly contested and also depends on the circumstances, that fact still does not free them from fulfilling their obligations under humanitarian law not to engage in terrorist acts. Kalliopi in her report believes that a group carrying out “military operations” in defense of the right of self-determination must act legally, otherwise it will be denied combatant status if the preponderance of its operations are acts of terrorism or that which violate humanitarian law. Other scholars have argued that in view of the lopsided nature of armed struggle between groups fighting for their right of self-determination and the state machinery asymmetrical conflicts-it will be in bad faith to label such groups terrorists even if they engage in activities similar to terrorism. This kind of open  blanket chaque is however cautioned by many scholars. One writer argues that actions and activities of such mentioned groups may be considered legitimate as long as certain strict requirements are fulfilled incumbent authorities are unquestionably oppressive and do not leave any room for democratic change, the sole purpose of the ‘terrorist’ action is to achieve some degree  of freedom; on degrading treatment is meted out to the people attacked. In general, the extension of international humanitarian law to wars of self-determination in the additional protocols (1977) to the four Geneva conventions of 1949, have provided an additional framework through which to assess many acts of politically based violence, and in particular violent acts which otherwise might be characterized as acts of international terrorism. As noted by one expert, in view of Article 1, paragraph 4 of Additional protocol 1 some national liberation struggles can now be recognized theoretically as “internationalized” form the start, while in view of Article96, paragraph 3 of the same protocol, some indication of willingness of liberation groups to comply with the provisions of humanitarian law can further facilitate a differentiation between “terrorists” and “freedom fighters” thereby allowing a recharacterization of some alleged terrorists for purposes of prosecution. The only problem with this proposition with respect to our area of interest in this proposal is with the criteria for determining when violence reaches the point that humanitarian law governing civil wars applies. When a group engaged in armed violence claims to do so in defence of the right of self-determination but fails to meet the criteria which will invoke the protection of humanitarian law, for instance if it fails the criteria of organized command or carrying arms opening sustained and concerted military operations as opposed to “sporadic” acts of violence, it risks the chance of been doomed as terrorists. Kalliopi in her report suggested that notwithstanding the criteria, most states rarely review objectively the level of military violence when faced with armed resistance, to determine whether or not the fighting qualifies under the Additional protocol II. Instead this states to mischaracterize the situation as one of “terrorism and counter terrorism. She observes that there a disturbing trend to label, any group involved in a situation that might even be called” imperfect” or “defective” civil war as necessarily  terrorist even though a particular group may rarely or never engage in what would be viewed as terrorist acts in armed conflict. Her conclusion is that situations of violence not reaching the minimum criteria for non-international armed conflict must not necessarily be classified as terrorism. In such situations, actual acts of the groups involved should be objectively evaluated to determine whether the acts are considered legal military operations or terrorist acts. If  a mix  is found, then there should be a balancing of the activities, only when the preponderance of acts are terrorist acts should the group be considered terrorist. Persons or groups not considered terrorist can still be held accountable under national criminal laws as the situation does not invoke humanitarian law regions. But such fighters should not necessarily be tried using terrorism laws, nor should their supporters be considered as abettors.
Let me conclude this review of relevant literature and conceptual framework with a quote from a statement made in the Geneva Declaration on Terrorism  issued at the end of conference of the international progress organization (IPO) in 1987:
“ we don’t want terrorism, but we must emphasize that the terrorism of nuclear weapons, criminal regimes, state atrocities, attacks with high-technology weapons on third world peoples and the systematic violation of human rights are far, far worse. It is cruel extension of the scourge of terrorism to classify the struggle against terrorism as ‘terrorism’. We support these struggles and we call for clear political terminology together with the liberation of humanity.          

VI.     SIGNIFICANCE AND REFERENCE OF PROPOSED RESEARCH


In choosing this proposed doctoral topic I had in mind three clearly discernable reasons  which became obvious after I had gone through the bulk of literature concerning the concept of self-determination, the right of indigenous peoples and minorities to self-determination and the relationship between the concept of terrorism and peoples (i.e group) efforts at implementing or exercising their right of self-determination. I cannot however claim to have read all the relevant literature that directly or in some way remotely touch on the subject area which is the concern of the proposed research. Nonetheless, the significance of the research topic he in exploiting the short coming of the entire research so far conducted within the area of interest and then looking at the key concepts from a perspective which has not been adequately and fully explored by scholars and researchers. Thus, the following are the significance and relevance of the proposed research topic:

a)     To revisit and re-appraise the theoretical connection and relationship between the concepts of terrorism and the international human rights of indigenous people  and minorities which is rarely explored and highlight in relevant literature. Most of the known research conducted on the concept of terrorism is generally focused on the types of terrorism, the actors, motives, methods and legal regime for prevention and enforcement of the crime of terrorism. I have observed that the closest the literature so far known to this researcher has come to exploring the relationship between terrorism and the right of self-determination is generally in the investigation of the status and activities of national liberation movements. Little is known about the struggles of indigenous peoples and minorities. The proposed research topic is before designed to take advantage of this lacuna and explore this seemingly virgin field of research with review of advancing new theories and helping to develop the subject area within the context of the Niger-Delta crises in Nigeria. This crisis not only threatens the Nigeria, the west African sub-region, but also the world economy and therefore should be the concern of all.

b)     The research reopen debates on critical aspects of studies that converge between issues in international criminal law, international human rights law and humanitarian law. This connection has so far been largely ignored by scholars.

c)     The study will investigate the significant difference between the claims of peoples or nations in other parts of the world like the Americas, Australia and New Zealand and the claims of nations in Africa especially people in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria to the status of indigenous people. This is in view of the observation that the colonial experience and subsequent contemporary experiences of the natives in these different regions is not as Australia and New Zealand while the some cannot be said of most parts of Africa, especially Nigeria, where independence was attained and sovereignty and governance returned back to the natives who are able represented in national politics of these countries. Perhaps there is need to re-visit the definition and nature of the concept of indigenous peoples. The relevance of the proposed research is to contribute significantly to the study of indigenous people in Africa.

d)     By situating and seeding to understand the Niger-Delta conflict broadly within the context of international human rights regimes for the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and minorities, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. The proposed research hopes at the end to be able to proffer viable solutions to the conflict facing the region the resolution of which will once again ensure the free flow of crude oil to ease the demand problems of the commodity in the world. 
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