Cameroon

 

Map of Cameroon (courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Background and Current Situation

Cameroon has both Anglophone and Francophone populations, a legacy of its mixed colonial past: British and French colonial regions were unified in 1961 to form the Republic of Cameroon (Amnesty, 2017). There have been ongoing disputes surrounding the unequal representation and subordinate position of the Anglophone minority – which consists of 20 percent of the overall population – with a widespread sense that it has been the subject of political, social and economic marginalization by the Francophone-dominated government (Amnesty, 2017). Francophone President Paul Biya from the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement has controlled the government since 1982 and has maintained power by “allegations of fraud”, such as rigging past elections, using state resources for political patronage, and limiting the activities of opposition parties (The Guardian, 2018).

Since 2016, political tensions have been growing, causing concern and contributing to the creation of a human rights crisis, particularly in Cameroon’s North-West and South-West Anglophone regions (GCR2P, 2019). The crisis began with largely peaceful demonstrations which were launched by members of the Anglophone population, including lawyers, students and teachers, against their under-representation and cultural marginalization by Francophone dominated government who have been in power for over 40 years (Amnesty, 2017). These protests were met with violent and sustained repression from the Cameroonian authorities and security forces, involving arbitrary arrests, restrictions (such as suspended internet and phone lines), sexual violence and the killing of protesters (Amnesty, 2017).

The crisis escalated in 2017, when Anglophone separatists called for independence from Cameroon with the creation of a new self-declared state, ‘Ambazonia’ (The Guardian, 2018). This precipitated an increase of violence and human rights violations perpetrated by both armed separatist groups (such as The Red Dragons, Tigers, Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF)) and Cameroonian security forces (BBC, 2018). This has amounted to possible crimes against humanity, resulting in the deaths of separatists, government security forces, and innocent populations (UN News, 2018). The conflict has also led to widespread displacement, with an estimated 437,000 people who have been internally displaced in the North-West and South-West regions as of January 2019 (UNHCR, 2019). The South-West region has become the epicentre of the displacement crisis, with 246,000 internally displaced people (OCHA, 2018).

Not only is the conflict between Anglophone and Francophone regions, but the continued threat from Boko Haram in Cameroon’s Far North region has led to human rights violations towards the population, such as forced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and torture (Amnesty, 2016).

The International Crisis Group (ICG) claims that the situation in Cameroon has deteriorated since January 2019, and that there is a risk of Cameroon descending into a civil war (ICG, 2019). Gross human rights violations and potential crimes against humanity are continuing to be perpetrated by separatist groups and government authorities & security forces. The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) claims that Cameroon’s population is at an “imminent risk”, suggesting that the situation is reaching a critical threshold and that the risk of mass atrocity crimes occurring in the immediate future is very high if effective preventive action is not taken (GCR2P, 2019).

The international community’s response will however be partly more complicated by the fact that on 12 October 2018, Cameroon was elected as a member state to the Human Rights Council (along with 17 other countries), and will serve a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2019, as part of a body responsible for promoting and protecting all human rights around the globe (UN, 2018). The five voting regions had only put forward as many candidates as there were seats available which removed any competition, therefore this election result came about despite Cameroonian government forces continuing to commit gross human rights violations as part of the ongoing ‘Anglophone crisis’ (BBC News, 2018).

Why should this be considered a Responsibility to Protect (R2P) case?

A report published by the UN Human Rights Council on 5 May 2018 states that the Cameroonian government has accepted recommendations from the international community to protect and promote the population’ human rights, and that the implementation of these different recommendations have either been completed, partially completed or pending (UN, 2018). For example, human-rights education is being mainstreamed into schools in 2016 and the media industry is being improved by funding (250,000,000 CFA francs in 2016) to enable free expression amongst the Cameroonian population (UN, 2018).

However, there is extensive evidence that the Cameroonian state has failed to protect its population from the crimes perpetrated by other groups (Anglophone separatists and Boko Haram), as well as evidence that the state itself has perpetrated crimes included under the R2P norm (listed below).

Crimes Against Humanity
‘Any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack: Murder; Extermination; Enslavement; Deportation or forcible transfer of population; Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; Torture; Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity; Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender…or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court; Enforced disappearance of persons; The crime of apartheid; Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.’ (UN, 2014).

Since the 2016 Anglophone protests in Cameroon, violence and conflict between separatist and government security forces has been increasing, and human rights violations have been committed by both parties in the conflict (Amnesty, 2018). For instance, Amnesty International recorded video footage of the extermination of members of the population by Cameroonian security forces, shooting unarmed civilians in a military operation in 2016 (Amnesty, 2018). Government security forces have also burnt down several Anglophone villages and administered a 93 day black-out of internet services (BBC, 2018). Additionally, between 12 and 13 November 2018 at least 30 people were killed due to government forces conducting military raids on separatist strongholds (GCR2P, 2019). There is also evidence of extrajudicial killings, torture, and kidnappings conducted by separatist groups (Amnesty, 2018).

Additionally, residents of the Anglophone regions have suffered from ongoing discrimination, such as the prohibition of using their language in daily public life, and limited access to education, the justice system and employment (UN, 2018). LGBT people in Cameroon have been subject to arbitrary arrest, intimidation and discrimination similar to what members of the population of the Anglophone region have experienced (UN, 2018). The UN has also noted that a 2014 anti-terrorism law is being used to arrest and detain defenders of the rights of the English-speaking minority and to try them in military courts, thereby depriving them of the right to a fair trial (UN, 2018). Furthermore, the Cameroonian government have little tolerance for human rights defenders and the restriction of access to the internet in the anglophone regions poses a restriction on their rights to the freedom of expression through the media (UN, 2018).

Additionally, as the next section on war crime explains, Cameroonian security forces have violated human rights in its attempts to counter Boko Haram. There is proof of enforced disappearance of those suspected of being associated with Boko Haram (UN, 2018).

The violence has led to huge numbers of deported and displaced population: over 30,000 Anglophone Cameroonians fled to Nigeria seeking asylum between September 2017 and November 2018, and it is estimated that a further 436,000 were internally displaced in Cameroon as of November 2018 (UNHCR, 2018). Additionally, in December 2018, hundreds of civilians fled the villages of Menkefou and Choupat after it was suspected that Anglophone separatists had abducted civilians and torched 80 houses (GCR2P, 2019).

Last but not least, despite having a long history of providing asylum for refugees, in early 2019 Cameroon forced around 4,400 Nigerian refugees to return to Nigeria (UNHCR, 2019). It has also been estimated that, since 2015, Cameroonian authorities have deported more than 100,000 Nigerians that had been living along the Cameroon-Nigeria border. Many of these Nigerians died during the forcible removal, due to having only limited access to food and health care for numerous months or years (Amnesty, 2018). Despite not being Cameroonian citizens, this mass forced removal demonstrates a level of failure to protect populations that were reliant upon the government.

Genocide
‘Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group’ (UN, 2014).

The UN has not officially recognised the ‘Anglophone crisis’ in Cameroon as a genocide. However, news outlets (such as the Guardian) have reported that the conflict is escalating and could resemble a genocide, or risks becoming one, perpetrated by the Francophone-dominated state against populations within the Anglophonic regions (Guardian, 2018).

Ethnic Cleansing
‘A purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas’ (UN, 2014).

Whilst ethnic cleansing has not been clearly identified between the Anglophone and Francophone regions of Cameroon, there is evidence of violence and discrimination towards the Anglophone population, who have been the subject of judicial inequalities, and their access to voting, employment and education has been limited (UNHCR, 2018).

War Crimes
‘Grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949’ Such as: ‘Wilful killing; Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments; Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health; Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power; Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial; Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement; Taking of hostages’ (UN, 2014).

Whilst Cameroon has not been declared as a ‘war’, the conflict between state forces and separatist groups is at risk of escalating into a civil war (ICG, 2019).

Additionally, there is evidence that the Cameroonian state has committed human rights abuses (and potential war crimes) in its attempts to counter Boko Haram (Amnesty, 2017). In a 2017 report, Amnesty identified 101 individuals who were held incommunicado, tortured and killed by Cameroon state security forces after being accused – with little or no evidence – of supporting Boko Haram. Amnesty suggested that these abuses constituted the perpetration of war crimes by the Cameroonian state (Amnesty, 2017). Although the violent conflict between the state and Boko Haram de-escalated in 2018, there is ongoing evidence of both Boko Haram insurgent groups and the Cameroonian security forces brutally attacking civilians (Amnesty, 2017).

Other Implications

Cameroon’s economy is rooted in the production and exportation of oil and cocoa, and is one of central Africa’s largest economies (Reuters, 2018). However, the deteriorating situation in the Anglophone regions has the potential to adversely impact the rate of cocoa and oil production. This, compared with other factors unrelated to R2P, could cause rising debts and interrupt economic growth in Cameroon. The World Bank has stated that the country’s economic growth “depends on the government’s ability to successfully handle the violent secessionist conflict in the two anglophone regions”, demonstrating further how the economy is directly suffering as a result of the ongoing ‘Anglophone crisis’ (World Bank, 2018).

Despite the fighting currently being contained within Cameroonian borders, repercussions are already being seen across numerous countries. In November 2018, the number of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria surpassed 30,000, 80% of whom are women and children (UNHCR, 2018). Other countries in the region affected by an influx of Cameroonian refugees include Chad, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Pillar 2 and 3: What has the international community done about it?

When a state fails to protect its population from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, the wider international community has the responsibility to encourage and assist states to meet their responsibilities. If a state is failing to protect its population, the international community must be prepared to take action in a ‘timely and decisive manner’ (UN, 2005).

United Nations (UN)
The UN has not officially recognised that any of the four R2P crimes have been committed. However, in an interview with the BBC on 1 October 2018, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, demanded an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon (The National Times, 2018). Furthermore, in November 2018 the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) condemned the continuing insecurity in the two Anglophone regions of the country amid reports of killings perpetrated by state forces and armed groups, as well as mass internal displacement (OHCHR, 2018).

Prominent members states of the UN have commented upon the events in Cameroon. Reports as recent as 7 February 2019 state that the US has decided to reduce its military involvement in Cameroon despite the country being a ‘long-time ally’ because according to leader of US Africa Command General Waldhauser, the US can no longer ignore the ‘alleged atrocities in what’s [going] on there’ (New York Times, 2019). American officials stated that ‘the US does not assist security forces credibly accused of gross human rights violations’ (New York Times, 2019). However some programs will continue, due to the fact that the American government is interested in supporting the war against Boko Haram.

The UN has attempted to intervene in the situation between the Cameroonian state and Boko Haram, by addressing and condemning crimes that are being committed. For instance, in 2017, the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 2349 condemned the atrocities committed by Boko Haram and ISIL (UNSC, 2018). They called Member States, surrounding states, international bodies and local NGOs to intervene in the crisis by supporting Cameroon in the fight against terrorism, for example by cutting supplies or any aid towards the terrorist groups, as well as investigating the crisis and criminalising such acts (UNSC, 2018). Additionally, the OHCHR has issued numerous statements and reports condemning human rights abuses and violations perpetrated by Boko Haram, raising awareness amongst the international community about the situation (see section: ‘Key Statements and Resolutions’ for more).

In terms of the UN’s role in providing humanitarian assistance, a total of $627 million in humanitarian assistance was pledged by 14 contributors over the course of 2017 and 2018, as a result of the conference held by the Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) (OCHA, 2017). Furthermore, in 2019 the UNHCR launched the 2019 Nigeria Regional Refugee Response Plan (RRRP), a plan for the whole of the Lake Chad Basin region involving 40 UN agencies and humanitarian organisations. In relation to Cameroon specifically, the plan is expected to assist Cameroonian communities hosting Nigerian refugees by catering for 99,500 Nigerian refugees within Cameroon, as well as catering for 20,000 Cameroonian hosts (UNHCR, 2019).

However, the election of a number of states with questionable records on human rights, including Cameroon, to the UN Human Rights Council in October 2018 drew criticism from a number of observers, thereby undermining the council’s legitimacy. Whilst activist groups such as Human Rights Watch condemned the decision (Human Rights Watch, 2018), the most threatening blow to the UN’s credibility came from the US. After having already made the decision in June 2018 to withdraw from the Human Rights Council, the outgoing US ambassador the UN Nikki Haley said of the October 2018 elections: ‘Yet again, countries with poor human rights records ran uncontested. This lack of standards continues to undermine the organisation’ (Al Jazeera, 2018). Given the USA’s huge political influence in the international community, it is arguable that its criticism of the Human Rights Council is a damaging blow to the Council’s credibility and legitimacy in relation to its ability to protect human rights around the world.

The European Union (EU)
The EU has been primarily concerned with the countering of Boko Haram operations in the country’s Far North region (European Commission, 2016).

In terms of the atrocities being committed by the government and the separatist groups, it has encouraged the Cameroonian government to fulfil its responsibility to protect and has urged the state to take action through finding “sustainable solutions” to the ongoing issues (EEAS, 2017). It also condemned the disproportionate use of force by the Cameroonian government security forces, urging the government to take action and engage in inclusive dialogue where fundamental freedoms and the rule of law is respected. The EU has especially called for accountability for the abuses in the Anglophone region of the country (EEAS, 2017).

NGOs such as the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) have been critical of this limited approach by the EU, especially after it decided to abstain from observing the Cameroonian presidential election even though the EU has deployed observers for almost all elections in Africa in the last few years (UNPO, 2018).

The African Union (AU)
The AU has expressed a “deep concern” for Cameroon due to the “continuous deterioration of the human rights situation”, particularly in the Anglophone regions (AU, 2017). In an attempt to protect the people of Cameroon from further atrocities, the AU has engaged with the Cameroonian government in dialogue and diplomacy (AU, 2017). The AU has called for “restraint” and “dialogue initiated by the government” to put an end to the growing crisis, and expressed its readiness to assist the Cameroonian government (AU, 2017). Furthermore, it has pledged its willingness to assist any political parties in finding solutions to the social, political and economic issues which are motivating tensions (AU, 2018).

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has also called upon the Cameroonian authorities to promote the collective interest of its population by preserving the “ideals of peace, justice, equity and good governance” as provided for in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACHPR, 2018).

Additionally, the AU deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to oversaw the 2018 presidential election. It highlighted the need for a stronger institutional and legal framework within Cameroon in order to ensure an impartial and fair electoral process.

International Criminal Court (ICC)
Cameroon is not under investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), as it has not yet ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC. Therefore, the country can neither take nor be taken in front of the court, unless the UN Security Council explicitly refers the situation to the ICC, which it has not yet done (CICC, 2019).

Key Statements and Resolutions

United Nations
UN News. ‘No other possibility but to leave’: UN News special report from the Nigeria-Cameroon border as 35,000 newly-displaced seek safety. 1 February 2019. Accessed 24 February 2019.
Terrorist group kills thousands in Nigeria over the borders of Chad and Cameroon, while tens of thousands’ livelihoods destroyed in the insurgencies. Refugees forced to leave due to the withdrawal of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), in place to counter Boko Haram and secure the city after being attacked. 35,000 Nigerian refugees are forced to seek refuge in Cameroon. The UN is in need of more funding to cover refugee settlement and basic needs such as water and food rations.

UN News. ‘Forgotten crisis’ in Cameroon, with attacks on the rise, millions in need of ‘lifesaving assistance’. 24 January 2019. Accessed 24 February 2019.
4.3 million Cameroonians are in need of assistance and protection due to terrorist attacks on the Nigerian border, which were aimed at civilians. $299 million are needed to assist 2.3 million vulnerable people, as stated in the joint humanitarian response plan 2019.

UN News. Cameroon violence condemned by UN human rights office in appeal for dialogue to address grievances. 20 November 2018. Accessed 24 February 2019.
Continuing insecurity in Cameroon, which is linked to internal violence caused by discrimination of the English-speaking part of the country, has been condemned by the OHCHR. This has led to mass internal and external displacement, which is, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an urgent humanitarian concern.

UN News. UN chief urges peaceful, free and fair elections in Cameroon. 4 October 2018. Accessed 24 February 2019.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres urges Cameroonian citizens to exercise their voting right in order to secure and fair elections.

BBC World Service. UN calls for investigation in Cameroon atrocities. 1 October 2018. Accessed 24 February 2019.
In an interview with the BBC, the UN Secretary General’s Adviser, Adama Dieng, demanded an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

UN News. Africa’s Lake Chad Basin: Over $2.1 billion pledged, to provide comprehensive crisis response. 4 September 2018. Accessed 24 February 2019.
UNDP and OCHA-backed conference held in Berlin with the cooperation of the governments of Germany, Nigeria and Norway. Humanitarian relief and development aid towards the crisis in the Lake Chad Basin were discussed, concluding that $2.17 billion will be raised in support and $467 million will be available as concessional loans.

UNSC. Statement by the President of the Security Council. 10 August 2018. Accessed 25 February 2019.
In this statement by the President of the Security Council, the humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region was addressed. Humanitarian intervention and regional governments’ support are needed in the region.

UN News. Cameroon violence needs urgent investigation, says UN rights chief Zeid. 25 July 2018. Accessed 24 February 2019.
Human rights concerns raised in light of atrocities such as the execution of a woman and her child and baby. UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein calls for investigation into human rights violations as Zeid fears these are not isolated events.

UNSC. Resolution 2349 (2017) Adopted by the Security Council at its 7911th meeting, on 31 March 2017. 31 March 2017. Accessed 25 February 2019.
This resolution by the Security Council strongly condemns the acts of the terrorist groups Boko Haram and ISIL and encourages action on behalf of the states in the Lake Chad Basin region as well as other states in the AU against these criminal organisations, and calls military support on behalf of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). UNSC urges Member States and other international bodies to support the affected countries by all possible means, including by cutting funding to these terrorist organisations. Countries of the Region are urged to criminalise and investigate these acts. On a humanitarian level, UNSC urges states in the Region and regional organisations to increase their efforts for refugees, welcomes the agreed $458 million in humanitarian assistance at the 2017 Oslo Conference to be allocated for humanitarian efforts. Development-wise, UNSC encourages development programmes to help build peace, as well as implement policies in order to deradicalize the effects of terrorism.

OCHA. Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region raises $672 million to help people in need. 24 February 2017. Accessed 25 February 2019.
This article by the UN Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs illustrates the humanitarian efforts raised at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, which involve the aid of $672 million for 2017 and $214 million for 2018. The conference enabled the voices of those affected by the crisis and raised development and humanitarian issues.

OHCHR. Violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram and the impact on human rights in the countries affected. 9 December 2015. Accessed 25 February 2019.
This report by the Human Rights Council covers the atrocities and human right violations committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram, and the impact it has had on Cameroon and other affected states.

OHCHR. S-23/1. Atrocities committed by the terrorist group Boko Haram and its effects on human rights in the affected States. 21 May 2015. Accessed 25 February 2019.
This resolution by the Human Rights Council condemns and shows extreme concern towards the actions of terrorist group Boko Haram in the Region, calling African states and the international community to cooperate in the prevention and counter of terrorism and calls for those involved with the crimes committed to fight in court.

OHCHR. The Context of Child Marriages in Cameroon. 4 December 2013. Accessed 24 February 2019.
This document illustrates the extents of child marriage in Cameroon. It is estimated that 53.5% of girls are married before the age of 18, as the Cameroonian Penal Code sets the minimum marriageable age as 15 for girls and 18 for boys. It is argued that girls at the age of 15 are not mature or ready for marriage physically, psychologically and emotionally.

OHCHR. Decision 11/106 Outcome of the universal periodic review: Cameroon. 10 June 2009. Accessed 24 February 2019.
Cameroon has accepted the outcomes of the Working Group of the Human Rights Council and they are collaborating to discuss the group’s views as well as giving Cameroon’s input on their own initiatives with an open dialogue to reach an agreement on adopting the outcomes of the Working Group.

OHCHR. National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21. 11 February 2013. Accessed 25 February 2019.
This report assesses the situation in Cameroon “in accordance with revised guidelines for the preparation of information within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review”, considering methodology of its development or progress in different areas. It shows an improvement in the promotion of human rights.

OHCHR. Compilation prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21. 11 February 2013. Accessed 24 February 2019.
This report contains information regarding the Universal Periodic Review, including observations by Cameroon, the OHCHR, as well as relevant UN documents.

OHCHR. Summary prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21. 7 February 2013. Accessed 24 February 2019.
This report contains 18 stakeholders’ submissions regarding the Universal Periodic review for Cameroon. It does not contain any observations or suggestions by OHCHR.

European Union
European External Action Service. Statement of the spokesperson on the situation in Cameroon. 28 September 2018. Accessed 20 February 2019.
Here, the EU emphasises the importance of constructive and inclusive dialogue to ensure that the ongoing crisis’ in the North-West and South-West regions do not impact the upcoming electoral process. The EU asserts the importance of “peaceful, credible, inclusive and transparent” elections without threat of violence against people or property, so that all the people of Cameroon are enabled to participate fully in the voting process.

European External Action Service. Statement by the Spokesperson on the situation in Cameroon. 31 January 2019. Accessed 23 February 2019.
The EU condemns the disproportionate use of force by the security forces and arrests of demonstrators which have been protesting in several Cameroonian cities. Expressing concern that some of Cameroon’s embassies abroad have been the target of violent incidents by opponents, the EU re-emphasises the need for dialogue and inclusivity where fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are respected.

European External Action Service. Statement of the spokesperson on the kidnapping of pupils in the North-West region of Cameroon. 06 November 2018. Accessed 25 February 2019.
Following the kidnapping of innocent pupils and staff in a Bamenda school and the subsequent rise in tensions between the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon, the EU calls for their immediate release. The EU expects all parties to engage with “constructive and inclusive dialogue” in order to find solutions to the issues at hand.

European External Action Service. Statement by the Spokesperson on the presidential elections in Cameroon. 25 October 2018. Accessed 23 February 2019.
Following the results of Cameroons presidential election, the EU outlines their expectations in the President-elect to bring together all stakeholders and overcome the challenges facing the country. With parts of the Cameroonian population unable to take part in the vote, the EU reiterates concern over the volatile situations in the North and South westerly regions of the country. In response to the recommendations made by the AU Election Observation Mission and their recommendations, the EU supports their pursuit for stronger institutional and legal frameworks for the Cameroonian electoral process in order to make it more inclusive. The EU, one of Cameroon’s economic partners, has thus pledged to continue to work for the development and stability of the country and supports reform.

European External Action Service. Statement of the spokesperson on the situation in Western Cameroon. 30 September 2017. Accessed 24 February 2019.
In response to the rising tensions between North-West and South-West Cameroon, the EU asks all stakeholders to act responsibly and with restraint in accordance to the law. Encouraging sustainable solutions to the issues and concerns raised by the Anglophone population, the EU argues that inclusive dialogue is in the interest of all Cameroonians.

Official Journal of the European Union. Council Decision 2017/435, Cotonou Agreement. 28 February 2017. Accessed 22 February 2019.
This is the partnership agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000, as first amended in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005.

African Union (AU)
AU Election Observation Mission to the 7th of October 2018 Presidential Election in the Republic of Cameroon: Preliminary Statement. 09 October 2018. Accessed 20 February 2019.
The AU have deployed an Election Observation Mission on the 07/10/2018 (EOM) in line with the 2017 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which came into force in 2012. The AU Election Observation Mission comprises of 11 long-term observers, later joined on the 3rd of October 2018 by 22 short-term election observers. Their report comprehensively emphasises their key observations of the Cameroonian election process so far. Although the elections have taken place in a generally peaceful political environment, the report outlines the effects of security challenges in the North and South West regions of the country caused by the Ambaboys armed group and Boko Haram insurgents. This environment, has resulted in the “curtailment of civil and political liberties in these regions” impacting negatively on the level of participation electoral process. The AUEOM noted that the current framework needs to be strengthened in order to safeguard the democratic principles of separation of powers, fairness, independence and impartiality. The report also states that the majority of Stakeholders were of the opinion that there should be a review of the system to enhance the “threshold for election of president by taking into account the social and political context of the country”. The AUEOM outlined the limited consensus in the political sphere on how to manage the voting of internally displaced peoples. Further highlighting the issue that the Ambaboys, in the North and South West regions, have warned voters not to participate in the polls. The report is therefore highly useful in gaining insight into Cameroons general political environment, legal framework of the electoral system, its administration and impact on voters. The report makes a variety of recommendations based upon their preliminary findings. The AUEOM encourage an-all-inclusive political dialogue aimed at promoting political, legal and electoral reforms. They ask the Cameroonian Parliament to consider strengthening the legal framework of elections through a variety of means, particularly through rethinking the electoral system to make it more universally inclusive. The report also appeals to the Directorate General of Elections and Electoral Board of the Elections Cameroon (ELECAM) to review the procedures for recruitment, training and deployment of polling personnel to ensure the selection process is under their direct control. The report is useful in looking at the electoral process in a balanced manner, as it both commends some of the reforms already made by the Cameroonian government whilst also deploring the violence occurring in certain regions of the country.

African Union Commission. Statement of the Chairperson of the Commission on the elections in Cameroon. 09 October 2018. Accessed 14 February 2019.
The chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat has observed critical developments in Cameroon after the Cameroonian October presidential elections. Underlining the need for subtlety in political actors to “exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any statement or action that could heighten tensions”, the AUC has dispatched both long and short terms observers.

African Union Commission. Statement of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on the release of school children in Cameroon. 07 November 2018. Accessed 20 February 2019.
The chairperson of the AUC welcomes the reported release of the 79 school children and teachers who were abducted in the North-West region of Cameroon. Stating that the abduction deprived the children of their education, safety and “fundamental human rights”. Moussa Faki Mahamat continues to express concern over the violence in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon. Emphasizing the need “address the situation and find a lasting solution through an inclusive dialogue”.

African Union Commission. AU expresses concern on the situation in Cameroon. 18 January 2017. Accessed 15 February 2019.
Following the developing situation in the Northwest and Southwest Regions in Cameroon the Chairperson of the AUC, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma expresses deep regret over the infrastructural destruction and loss of life in the two regions. Expressing concern over the closure of schools, medical facilities and the treatment of demonstrators, the Chairperson of the AU commission calls for “for restraint and encourages a continuation of the dialogue initiated by the Government in order to find a solution to the social, political and economic issues motivating the protests”. The AU is willing to assist parties in this endeavour.

This brief was put together by the ECR2P interns Amelia Cookson, Phoebe Heins, Sofia Gagliano, Ollie Maher, Claudia Hawkins and Caela Johnson under the supervision of Dr Eglantine Staunton.

Last updated on 19 March 2019.