Since independence, Nigerian foreign policy has been characterized by a focus on Africa and by attachment to several fundamental principles: African unity and independence; peaceful settlement of disputes; nonalignment and nonintentional interference in the internal affairs of other nations; and regional economic cooperation and development. In carrying out these principles, Nigeria participates in the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Nonaligned Movement, the Commonwealth, and the United Nations.
In pursuing the goal of regional economic cooperation and development, Nigeria helped create ECOWAS, which seeks to harmonize trade and investment practices for its 16 West African member countries and ultimately to achieve a full customs union. Nigeria also has taken the lead in articulating the views of developing nations on the need for modification of the existing international economic order.
Nigeria has played a central role in the ECOWAS efforts to end the civil war in Liberia and contributed the bulk of the ECOWAS peacekeeping forces sent there in 1990. Nigeria also has provided the bulk of troops for ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone.
Nigeria has enjoyed generally good relations with its immediate neighbors. A longstanding border dispute with Cameroon over the potentially oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula is to be resolved by the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Nigeria released about 150 Cameroonian prisoners of war in late 1998.
Nigeria is a member of the following international organizations: United Nations and several of its special and related agencies, Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Organization of African Unity (OAU), Organization of African Trade Union Unity (OATUU), Commonwealth, INTELSAT, Nonaligned Movement, several other West African bodies. The Babangida regime joined the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), though President-elect Obasanjo has indicated he might reconsider Nigeria's membership.
After the June 12, 1993, Nigerian presidential election was annulled, and in light of human rights abuses and the failure to embark on a meaningful democratic transition, the United States imposed numerous sanctions on Nigeria. These sanctions included the imposition of Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to refuse entry into the United States of senior government officials and others who formulated, implemented, or benefited from policies impeding Nigeria's transition to democracy; suspension of all military assistance; and a ban on the sale and repair of military goods and refinery services to Nigeria. The U.S. Ambassador was recalled for consultations for four months after the execution of the Ogoni Nine on November 10, 1995.
After a period of increasingly strained relations, the death of General Abacha in June 1998 and his replacement by General Abubakar opened a new phase of improved bilateral relations. As the transition to democracy progressed, the removal of visa restrictions, increased high-level visits of U.S. officials, discussions of future assistance, and the granting of a Vital National Interest Certification on counter-narcotics, effective in March, 1999, paved the way for re-establishment of closer ties between the United States and Nigeria, as a key partner in the region and the continent. Since the inauguration of the democratically elected Obasanjo government, the bilateral relationship has continued to improve, and cooperation on many important foreign policy goals, such as regional peacekeeping, has been good.
The government has lent strong diplomatic support to the U.S. Government counter-terrorism efforts in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Government of Nigeria, in its official statements, has both condemned the terrorist attacks as well as supported military action against the Taliban and Al Queda. Nigeria also has played a leading role in forging an anti-terrorism consensus among states in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Disputes - international: delimitation of international boundaries in the vicinity of Lake Chad, the lack of which led to border incidents in the past, has been completed and awaits ratification by Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria; dispute with Cameroon over land and maritime boundaries around the Bakasi Peninsula is currently before the ICJ; maritime boundary dispute with Equatorial Guinea because of disputed jurisdiction over oil-rich areas in the Gulf of Guinea
Illicit drugs: facilitates movement of heroin en route from Southeast and Southwest Asia to Western Europe and North America; increasingly a transit route for cocaine from South America intended for European, East Asian, and North American markets
- See also : Nigeria