News24

Burkina Faso takes border dispute to ICJ

2012-10-08 14:13

The Hague - Burkinabe representatives opened arguments before the UN's highest court over a decades-old border dispute with neighbouring Niger, seeking a final ruling on the issue.

Burkinabe Territorial Administration Minister Jerome Bougouma asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to decide on a border between the two west African states that was initially "drawn by the coloniser".

He accused Niger of "reneging on original commitments" made during talks over 375km of disputed territory along the 630km frontier between the two countries.

"Accustomed to the U-turns of our brothers in Niger, we prefer to defer to the court," Bougouma told The Hague-based tribunal, which rules in disputes between states.

Judges should "not underestimate a dispute complicating the situations of citizens along the border. Sovereignty issues often exacerbate passions", Bougouma said.

The court has scheduled six days of hearings until 17 October to look into the disagreement between the two former French colonies which both obtained independence in 1960. Niger will have the floor on Thursday.

The two neighbours have been co-operating for decades through a joint technical committee but cracks have emerged on issues of demarcation, especially in semi-desert areas.

Burkina Faso and Niger asked the court in June 2010 to intervene after they signed an agreement in 2009, asking the ICJ to "determine a boundary line between the two countries".

The ICJ is the UN's highest judicial body and is the only one of six main UN organs not located in New York.