May 01 2023 | Radio Biafra
The awareness being created by the Biafran people about their quest for freedom, championed by the Mazi Nnamdi Kanu led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is already such loud that there is rarely no international body which can feign ignorant of it. Right to self-determination is a fundamental human right recognized under international laws. This is crucial for the individual and collective freedom, autonomy of an Indigenous peoples who have a unique cultural identity, way of life and wishes to live freely.
Biafrans, currently located in the present-day Southeast Nigeria, have long been advocating for the right to self-determination, and this paper examines the historical and political context of the Biafran struggle, the legal framework for the right to self-determination, and the need for international intervention in securing a referendum for the Indigenous people.
The Biafran self-determination struggle dates back to the 1960s when Nigeria gained the supposed independence from British colonial rule. The Indigenous people of Biafra, primarily consisting of the Igbo ethnic group have remained marginalized and oppressed by the Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba ethnic groups dominated Nigerian government. The marginalization of the Igbo people culminated in a civil war that lasted from 1967 to 1970, resulting in the deaths of millions of Biafrans.
Since the end of the war, Nigeria government have failed to address the root causes of the conflict, but continued in the marginalization and oppression of the Biafran people. The Biafran people continues to face economic, political, and social discrimination, with limited access to resources and opportunities. Nigeria government have as well engaged in human rights violations, extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detention of Biafra freedom activists.
The right to self-determination as boldly enshrined in the laws of several international communities includes; United Nations Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “all Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination”. By virtue of that right, the political status of the Indigenous People, and their freedom to pursue their economic, social, and cultural development is freely determined.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples also recognizes the right of Indigenous peoples to self-determination, including the right to autonomy or self-government, the right to control over their traditional lands, and the right to maintain and develop their own cultural practices and institutions.
The Indigenous people of Biafra have been demanding for a referendum to determine their fate as a people. However, Nigeria government has consistently refused to this demand, citing the need to preserve national unity and territorial integrity. Nigeria’s continued refusal to acknowledge the right to self-determination of Indigenous people of Biafra is purely a violation of international law and the human rights of the Biafran people.
The international community, including the United Nations have a responsibility to intervene in the Biafran struggle for self-determination. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes the obligation of states to consult and cooperate with Indigenous peoples in good faith to obtain their free, prior, and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. The international community must pressure Nigeria government to respect the right to self-determination of Indigenous people of Biafra and conduct a referendum in line with international standards.
The Biafran struggle for self-determination is not just a struggle being engaged for mere or ordinary desire for freedom. It is more about addressing the historical and ongoing marginalization and oppression of the people in Old Eastern region of Nigeria and around the world. The right to self-determination is not just a legal concept, it is also a moral and ethical imperative to ensure the dignity and autonomy of all peoples.
International intervention is necessary to ensure that Nigeria government upholds its obligations under international laws which it is signatory to, and respects the human rights of Indigenous people of Biafra. The international community should support Indigenous people of Biafra in their struggle for self-determination and work towards allowing Biafrans create a just and equitable society for themselves.
As a fundamental human right recognized under international laws, self-determination is a right and entitlement of the Indigenous people of Biafra. Nigeria government must put mechanisms in place for the conduct of a referendum to enable the Indigenous people of Biafra decide their fate as a people.
The international community have a responsibility to intervene in the Biafran struggle for self-determination and pressure Nigeria government to respect the right to self-determination of Indigenous people of Biafra in line with international standards.
Source: The Biafra Herald
For: Radio Biafra Media