Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Good News from a Day of Bad News

From BBC News - Africa
With news stories of Boston's marathon blasts, Iran's earthquake, and Jaipur's public apathy towards a family of accident victims, the day was destined to be bad. Or so, I thought.

But the good news I heard on BBC Radio is this. "The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has settled a decades-old border dispute between the West African nations of Niger and Burkina Faso".

It made me see that glimmer of silver lining among the ominous dark clouds of terror, tragedy and trauma that seemed all set to make pessimists of all of us.

We know from history that the issues of borders between countries can go on for years and years and can cost scores and scores of lives. But, according to BBC, "the Hague court demarcated territory covering an area of 380 km, over half the length of the border between Niger and Burkina Faso. And, the representatives from both governments expressed satisfaction with the ICJ ruling".

The best sentence I think is this: "the representatives from both governments expressed satisfaction with the ICJ ruling".

How many countries can settle border disputes like this? Can, any?

Well, Bahrain and Qatar can. And, in 2001, they actually did. You can read it here and here.

Hawar Islands, held by Bahrain, were claimed by Qatar for many years, among other territorial claims and counter claims. The two nations almost went to war over the dispute in 1986, according to BBC.

The case at the International Court of Justice, launched by Qatar in 1991, was the longest in the court's history, at that time.

But, finally, in 2001, when I was new to Bahrain, I remember following the story and liking it, when I read that both countries were satisfied with the decision.

ICJ said : "The court concludes that Bahrain has sovereignty over the Hawar islands, and that it therefore cannot uphold the submission of Qatar."

Judges ruled that both Qatar and Bahrain had given their consent for Britain to resolve the Hawar dispute in 1939, and so it remained binding on them (as per BBC).

The court awarded control of two minor islands, Janan and Hadd Janan, to Qatar.

Since Qatar, like Bahrain, has repeatedly said it will accept any verdict by the court, the representatives of both countries shook hands, and hugged, over the verdict.

Now, today, I hear and read that Niger and Burkina Faso did the same. God bless countries that believe in this civil way of solving disputes.

How I wish many International border disputes could be settled like this.

No comments: