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Eritrea/Ethiopia: EEBC has the last word, it has spoken; it’s over




08 Feb 05


Eritrea and Ethiopia established a Boundary Commission (EEBC) of their own pick and choice and conferred upon it the sole and only authority to have the last word in the resolution of their border dispute. The EEBC has long, now almost 3 years, spoken the last word and exists in the form of the border decision of 13 April 2002.  And by treaty, the last word of the EEBC is final, binding, and without right to appeal or recourse of any kind. Also by treaty, once the last word of the EEBC has been spoken, the case is closed; it cannot be reargued, renegotiated, re-dialogued, or reopened. It goes without saying then that both parties must abide by the last word of the EEBC- the border ruling – unequivocally.


All the parties involved herein, i.e. Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the EEBC, were well engaged for one year in a legally moderated dialogue also known as legal arbitration. And equally by treaty, once the EEBC has spoken its last word on the matter, the parties become disengaged for there is no more to engage on but to cooperate with the EEBC in the immediate implementation of the border decision without any ifs and buts – So wanted both Eritrea and Ethiopia it to be.


Now, what is wrong with the border decision except that it didn’t go Ethiopia’s way?


It is not whether or not Ethiopia accepts the border ruling. That is utterly absurd. Both Eritrea and Ethiopia have already accepted the decision of the boundary commission before even knowing the outcome by virtue of agreeing in writing to go to court to resolve their dispute. It is all about Ethiopia’s shameless attempt to renege on that ( in the Amharic language known as saying “Ashaferegn”). In an interview with the Ethiopian Reporter recently, the new French ambassador to Ethiopia, Stephane Gomprtz, explained this to Ethiopia in a very elementary manner. He said “Look, this is what we do when we go to court. If I have a conflict with my neighbor because of his house or my house or our property and we go to a court, that means we accept in advance the ruling of a judge. Now after the judge decides, I might not be satisfied, but I will not say, “I refuse to do what the judge has told me”.  That applies to international relations as well.” Very elementary, but hits the nail on the head: That is “Ashaferegn”.


Nations have the option of resolving their dispute trough ICJ or PCA. The decisions of both the ICJ and PCA have equal legal effect and are enforceable as long as both parties seek and consent to their jurisdiction in writing. The notion that the “PCA lacks enforcement mechanism because it is not ICJ” is hence gutter nonsense floated by gutter scholars. There is certainly no standing army ready to invade an international legal offender like Ethiopia but “Enforcement measures may include resolutions censoring the offending state, economic sanctions, or even military action if the violation involves the use of force or threatens international peace or security”. That is one way of explaing Chapter VII of UN Charter, which was incorprated into the Algiers agreement upon Ethiopia’s insistance as a means of enforcing the border decision. And as if that was not enough, Ethiopia also requested and was granted the assurances (guarantee) of major powers to ensure strict adherence to the Algiers agreement once the verdict is out. Could that be a lie or does that mean it applies only to Eritrea?


The international community may not have yet reached the point of pulling the trigger on Ethiopia, but it is inevitable for the Algiers agreement has been established as the only mechanism and way out for peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia. It’s surely been long and Ethiopia has been getting away with its defiance with impunity but that does not invalidate or rule out the application of Chapter VII as stipulated by the treaty of Algiers but delays it because it is simply ridiculous to pull Chapter VII on a country that owes its very existence as a nation to massive handouts from the international community. It is unfair because it prevents peace from descending upon the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia and prolongs their sufferings. But believe it or not, it is justice delayed but not denied, and justice will prevail.


Ethiopia’s conformity with other peace agreements is well and good. But that cannot be an excuse or justification not to abide by a legal decision and to willfully renege on or violate other binding international agreement after the fact simply because it didn’t work Ethiopia’s way?


Knowingly or unknowingly, some Eritreans may speak favorably of the hoax that Ethiopia put forward on 24 Nov 2004. They are wrong, but they are entitled to their rightly or wrongly God-given opinion. Ethiopia’s 5 Point Peace Fraud manifestly and blatantly violates the Algiers peace accord on at least two counts: It calls for revision of the Accord and renegotiation of the border decision, simply because it didn’t go Ethiopia’s way or to put it in PM Meles’ recent expression because “Ethiopia doesn’t like the border decision”. Be that as that may, for what purpose do those Eritreans want Eritrea to engage Ethiopia on “their proposal” when Eritrea has no problem with the Algiers accord and the border decision? Simply because Ethiopia doesn’t like it? What is the problem? There is a lot of things people don’t like about a court’s decision, but they abide by it because no legal decision is going to make both sides happy . Even Ethiopia must submit to the rule of law even if the Prime Minister doesn’t like it.


Ethiopia can throw the ball in all directions but it is going to bounce back because the case is firmly closed. It cannot be reopened regardless of the number, quality, and directions of the ball by order of the Algiers agreement.


“A deafening Silence Amounts to Abdication of Responsibility” is utterly nonsensical in the case of the EEBC, where the reverse would have destroyed the sanctity of the ruling and the integrity of the peace accord. Once the EEBC has spoken its last word in matters Eritrea vs. Ethiopia, it is obliged by treaty and it is indeed its solemn responsibility to uphold and maintain silence over the legally settled matter, deafening or not, by the diktat of Eritrea and Ethiopia in the form of the Algiers agreement. The EEBC cannot be engaged any more in any form and shape no matter how often and loud Ethiopia attempts to bring up the case because the matter is closed. The EEBC made though one exception simply to get Ethiopia’s bugging monkey off its shoulders on 21 March 2003 and reiterated “In doing so the commission is mindful of the fact that it is not the practice of international tribunals to respond to comments upon, or criticisms of, their decisions”.


EEBC’s golden silence means that the case is closed and has nothing to do with Ethiopia. Ethiopia has long accepted the verdict by the fact of agreeing to go to court in the first place. In our daily life, courts render decisions but judges don’t chase the legal offender. It is up to law enforcement to take care of that. The EEBC has rendered its decision but Ethiopia has forcibly prevented its implementation. The EEBC does not have an army to counter that. It is now up to the nations, which by Ethiopia’s insistence agreed to ensure strict adherence to the Algiers agreement, and the international community to bring Ethiopia into compliance with the border decision, that is a lot to do?


Silence is indeed a virtue not “abdication”of the responsibility of the EEBC in light of Ethiopia’s endless, illegal, and shameless attempts and provocations to reopen a legally settled matter. Team EritreaDaily (TED)



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