The establishment of the U.S.-Nigeria commission was welcomed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, the USCIRF, a Congressionally-funded monitoring group.
But the religious freedom panel urged that the bi-national commission deal not only with problems in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger delta region, but also sectarian violence that has killed more than 12,000 people in Nigeria since 1998.
USCIRF's Director of Operations and Outreach David Dettoni says his organization cited Nigeria as a "country of particular concern" because of a culture of impunity in Muslim-Christian violence that has surged in recent months.
"The [USCIRF] commissioners looked at the cycle of impunity, particularly as it pertains to sectarian violence, and saw that nobody was ever held accountable for their role in perpetrating violence, murder, mayhem and destruction. There were arrests but then nobody was ever convicted," he said.