Horn of Africa
Ethiopia remains adamantly defiant, rebuffs Horn diplomacy
21 Jan 04
On 7 Jan 04, the UN Security Council issued a press release pertaining to Eritrea and Ethiopia whereby it unequivocally reaffirmed the final and binding nature of the Boundary Commission, thereby rejecting Ethiopia’s appeal for alternative mechanism and dialogue, urged Ethiopia to abide by the decision of the commission and called for expeditious demarcation of the border as decided. To follow up on and in an effort to bring Ethiopia in line with that, the int’l community turned the Horn of Africa into a “Schauplatz” for diplomatic ballet, or as the French put it “ballet diplomatique”, between 12-20 Jan 04.
The British entered the arena chanting, “ the decision of the commission is final, legal, and binding”, and again promising more and more aid and assistance to make it palatable to Ethiopia. The Germans followed suit but more emphatic and specific by demanding, yes demanding, that Ethiopia abide by the border ruling and calling for it to drop its claim on the border village Badme. Regardless, Ethiopia remained adamantly defiant than ever before and rebuffed the diplomats by trashing the Commission and labeling the border ruling as "grave mistake", "irresponsible”, and “unjust". In response, the diplomats expressed their frustration with Ethiopia rulers by saying "...the beginning of the demarcation process cannot be put off until Kingdom come" German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, and "This standoff can’t go on indefinitely" Chris Mullin, British Minister for Africa, who also told reporters in Ethiopia that “the international community could consider sanctions if the two East African countries fail to accept a 2002 ruling by an international commission on the placement of the border." Although Mr. Mullin’s reference to both countries in this regard might sound unfair and displease Eritrea, which is and has been undeniably in full compliance with the border ruling all along, it is a plane and simple formal diplomatic expression, which either country, in this case Eritrea, can simply disregard if it is not applicable to it.
Chancellor Schröder’s and Mr. Mullin’s reactions are typical representation of the international community’s frustration with Ethiopia’s outright defiance of the rule of law in international relation. The world is running out of patience. The UNSC has called for the expeditious demarcation of the border as decided by the EEBC recognizing that it is the only means of bringing peace to the Horn.
The recent diplomatic failure in the Horn has proven that diplomacy cannot break Ethiopia’s defiance. And sanctions/punitive measures can neither bring about expeditious demarcation nor can they substitute demarcation. Such measures only delay demarcation, possibly indefinitely, and prolong the sufferings of IDP’s and perpetuate the illegal occupation of Eritrean territory and border tension. And the only way and cause for such a tension to develop into a renewed border war is for the international community to abdicate its solemn commitment to the Algiers Agreement?
The world is calling for expeditious demarcation. And for that to happen, the world must pull the trigger and take expeditious action by invoking the ultimate measure under Chapter VII of UN Charter. Ethiopia’s forceful refusal to allow expeditious demarcation needs to be countered forcefully as stipulated under the Algiers Agreement. To that effect, UNMEE must either be transformed into combat force or be substituted by international combat force. Other than that, any call for sanctions is a lame excuse for the international community to run away from its commitment to enforce the boundary decision by use of force if necessary.