CNI calls on Cameroon to Ratify the U.N. Enforced Disappearance Treaty

Contra Nocendi International marks August 30, 2021, the United Nations’ International Day for Victims of Forced Disappearance, by calling on the government of Cameroon to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Although Cameroon signed the treaty in 2007, the country has not taken the next steps to ratify and domestically implement it. Cameroon has been the scene of many instances of forced disappearance and alleged forced disappearances.

According to U.N. estimates, hundreds of thousands of people have vanished during conflicts or periods of repression in at least 85 countries around the world. The U.N. declaration and intentions behind the treaty consider enforced disappearances more than a human rights violation against an individual. The practice has been used as a strategy to spread terror across societies and countries; the feeling of insecurity this practice generates is not limited to the close relatives of the disappeared — it affects their communities and society as a whole. 

Once largely a practice of military dictatorships, enforced disappearances can nowadays be perpetrated in complex situations of internal conflict, especially as a means of repressing political opponents. Of particular concern are ongoing harassment of human rights defenders, family relatives, witnesses and legal counsel, and the routine — and still-widespread impunity — for this practice in many parts of the world.

The U.S. treaty declares that “no one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance”[i] and that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance”.[ii]  This means that no person can be subjected to enforced disappearance and there can never be a justification for doing so. This is a commitment that the government of Cameroon must make to its people.

The international community marks the International Day for Victims of Forced Disappearance on 30 August of every year. We do so to call out these practices and tactics, while remembering the victims, their family and loved ones.  This has included Cameroonians from all walks of life and all backgrounds.

We call on the government of Cameroon to act and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.


[i] International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, Art 1(1).

[ii] Id., Art 1(2).