There is no dispute in the Horn
The latest conflict in the Horn of Africa that horrified humanity was the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia that led to a two-year war (1998-2000), which was a scene of dreadful carnage. That war ended when the international community and the UN intervened and the Algiers peace agreement was signed in December of 2000. Under the terms of the agreement, Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed and accepted in writing to establish an independent Boundary Commission (EEBC) as the only and sole authority to adjudicate their border dispute. Both countries agreed and accepted too that the ruling of the EEBC is final, binding without appeal or recourse and committed to only accept and abide by it wherever the chips may fall. Moreover, both countries also agreed and accepted to remedy noncompliance by invoking UN Chapter VII to its fullest extent.
In April of 2002, the Boundary Commission rendered the ruling that settled the dispute legally and conclusively. Under the terms of the peace agreement, both countries have no other option but to accept and abide by the Commission’s ruling. Accordingly, Eritrea accepted and is abiding by the ruling. On the other hand, Ethiopia neither accepts nor abides by the Commission’s ruling in outright violation of the peace agreement. Not only that, Ethiopia unilaterally dismantled the Boundary Commission, publicly dismissed its ruling as null and void to the extent of forcibly halting its implementation and sending the Commission into oblivion, and freezing the peace process despite and in spite of Int’l community and UN’s unwavering support and endorsement of the EEBC and its decision to date.
The decision of the Boundary Commission has rendered the Eritro-Ethio dispute settled, legally and conclusively. Ethiopia’s non-acceptance of the Commission’s decision does not by any standard constitute dispute but brazen defiance by all standards because no one else is contesting the decision but Ethiopia. Today there is no dispute but brazen defiance of a legal settlement of a dispute that was.
Having said that, Mr. Axworthy volunteered the following revealing if not most revealing statement about his futile attempt to abuse his mission to renegotiate the boundary decision contrary to his declared mission to implement the boundary decision:
“To me, there are two paties to this dipute,” said Axworthy. With that, Mr. Axworthy has volitionally revealed the futility of his mission. Here, Mr. Axworthy is certainly alluding to the decision of the Boundary Commission, which he, Mr. Axworthy, is now brazenly declaring as being disputed by two parties. Without going any further, Eritrea is not disputing and has not disputed the boundary decision but to the contrary: Eritrea has accepted the decision without qualification. Now may we challenge the omniscient Lloyd Axworthy to name any one else that is disputing the decision of the Commission besides Ethiopia? None, Mr. Axworthy. With that, you are not only short of one party to declare a dispute but your attempt to insinuate controversy over the Boundary Commission’s decision has also failed because the entire world including Eritrea support and stand by the EEBC and its decision. Consequently, there is neither controversy over boundary decision or dispute of any kind but Ethiopia’s outright defiance, which is preventing peace form reigning in the Horn. It is, therefore, your mission and incumbent upon you to focus on overcoming Ethiopia’s adamant defiance and to bring about the implementation of the Boundary Commission’s decision as required of you by virtue of the terms of your appointment [(SC/7997) 30 Jan 04].
In today’s news report, Mr. Axworthy adds “ To me there are two parties to this dispute, and the two parties must take the responsibility of resolving it”. Mr. Axworthy, the undeclared but apparent premise of your mission (Dispute Resolution) is simply wrong because there is no dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia that has not been settled by the boundary decision. Eritrea accepted the boundary decision not because it got what it wanted but because it is the most responsible thing to do and in reverence to the peace accord. Can you say the same about Ethiopia, Mr. Axworthy? Certainly not? Further, Mr. Axworthy added:
“ If any one of the parties has decided not to participate in it, it slows down the efforts of the international community to be helpful. The only missing voice so far that I haven’t heard from directly are the Eritreans”. Mr. Axworthy, please allow one more challenge to your omniscience: Name or cite any thing that Eritrea is disputing or contesting vis-à-vis the decision of the Boundary Commission or even the Commission itself? Again, none. Mr. Axworthy, Eritrea is not a participant of any dispute because there is there is no dispute that has not been settled by the decision of the Commission. And that is why Eritrea’s voice is missing. Believe me, Sir, if there were any dispute you would have heard from Eritrea without you calling for it: Loud and clear. You don’t hear from Eritrea because Eritrea has no problem with implementing the Algiers Agreement and the decision of Boundary commission as is.
Mr. Axworthy is also quoted as insisting that his mission is “honest” one. Mr. Axworthy, no need to evangelize honesty but honesty starts with accepting realities: Accepting not trying to poke holes into the finality and binding nature of the ruling of the EEBC, Accepting that the Eritro-Ethio border dispute has been settled conclusively by EEBC’s ruling, accepting not usurping EEBC sole authority over the implementation of the boundary ruling. Mr. Axworthy, your honest towards those realities leaves a lot much to be desired. When was the last time you mentioned the EEBC or EEBC’s decision, Mr. Axworthy? Mr. Axworthy, your talk about “peacemeal demarcation“ contravenes UNSC call for demarcation to proceed in all sectors as directed by the EEBC? And more.
Mr. Axworthy, let us not talk about honesty, honesty is a rare commodity in politics and your mission is no exception to that: It is disingenuous and manipulative at best and fraud at worst. Talk about disputes that don’t exist: vis-à-vis Eritrea: none, vis-à-vis EEBC: none, It is all defiance, because the EEBC has the last word, Mr. Axworhty.