Nigeria Table of Contents
Nigeria's global interests and roles were demonstrated in different ways, most notably in its contribution of military units to several UN peacekeeping missions, its leadership in various international fora, and its participation in the global nuclear nonproliferation movement. Nigeria's only foreign military deployments other than its border dashes with Chad and Cameroon have been multilateral missions. Nigerian units took part in operations beyond the colony's borders in both world wars. Since independence, Nigeria has proudly boasted Africa's longest and most distinguished record of participation in UN peacekeeping operations. Nigeria dispatched two infantry divisions under UN command to Congo in the early 1960s, and a battalion to Tanzania after the 1964 mutiny. It also contributed to the UN India-Pakistan Observer Mission (UNIPOM) in 1965, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in 1978, and the UN observer mission to oversee the Iran-Iraq cease-fire and the AngolaNamibia accords in 1988. For reasons of internal politics and security, however, Nigeria did not send troops to participate in the 1990 Persian Gulf war. All told, Nigeria has contributed about 16,000 troops to UN peacekeeping functions. Nigeria also called for a permanent African seat on the UN Security Council.
Nigeria's internationalism also was manifest in its initiative to create a Concert of Medium Powers among nonaligned states in March 1987, at which Nigeria was appointed chair of the group and coordinator of its program. Also known as the Lagos Forum, the group held a September 1987 meeting attended by more than twenty countries. Nigeria also hosted the second meeting of the twenty-three-nation Zone of Peace and Cooperation of the South Atlantic in July 1990.
Nuclear nonproliferation was another important global security issue for Nigeria. Lagos signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty on the day it was opened for signature in 1968 and has made proposals at the UN for an African nuclear-free zone. Nigeria has made clear, however, that its continued nuclear forbearance is contingent on other signatories honoring their obligations and on the behavior of nonsignatories, such as South Africa. Various Nigerian academicians and officials have spoken in favor of keeping open or even of exercising the military "nuclear option" to supply energy, to enhance Nigeria's power and prestige, and to avoid nuclear blackmail by South Africa, Libya, or the superpowers. In early 1988, Nigeria signed a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, ensuring peaceful uses of its nuclear reactor project.
Data as of June 1991