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Eritrea/Ethiopia: UN obliged by treaty to uphold Border Ruling



17 Dec 2004


The Algiers Peace Accord that ended the two-year (1998-2000) carnage between Eritrea and Ethiopia over a border dispute was designed and crafted to only succeed under the pressure and the active participation of the UN and the international community at large (EU, USA, OAU/AU, ALGERIA). The peace Treaty was then and only then signed (December 2000) after the UN, EU, USA, OAU/AU, and ALGERIA accepted and agreed to guarantee scrupulous and strictest compliance with the agreement as was persistently requested by Ethiopia and consented to by Eritrea prior to signing the agreement- hence, the designation Guarantor Nations. Accordingly, the UN is obliged by this Treaty to ensure strict compliance with the Algiers Agreement in general and to ensure, uphold, and defend the sanctity of the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) in words and deeds at all times.


Ethiopia did not wait long to remind the UN about that. Only 11 months later, Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister called on the UN in its role as “co-guarantor of the Algiers peace agreement signed between the two countries last year to shoulder its full responsibility to ensure that the agreement is scrupulously followed". Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin told the United Nations General Assembly at its 56th session in New York on 15 November 2001. Today, it is only right for Eritrea to recall and reiterate Ethiopia’s 3-year old but correct reminder and to pass it along to the UN, or correctly to the head of the UN Mission in Eritrea Ethiopia, his excellency Mr. Legwaila J Legwaila, just by way of one more humble pointer to his obligation by treaty.


The border issue being the mother of all evils between Eritrea and Ethiopia, both countries and the int’l l community saw to it that it gets resolved conclusively once and for all. To that effect, it was determined and agreed to by both countries that the decision of the boundary commission shall be final & binding, without right to appeal or recourse but immediate implementation (demarcation of the border), wherever the chips may fall. It was so determined to bring closure and finality to this evil issue and to prevent attempts to filibuster the implementation of the decision [demarcation]. Other than that, no one says that all the arguments of the world have been exhausted or that rearguing the case would not yield a different outcome. Under the terms of the Algiers accord, Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed and accepted to have one chance to make their case, to accept the decision unequivocally, to abide by and live with it, period. Attempts/issues that delay, obstruct, or even prevent the immediate implementation of the Border decision, therefore, constitute flagrant violation of the Algiers Accord.


Ethiopia has filibustered the implementation of the border ruling for over 2 ½ years now by using various tactics (dialogue, partial demarcation/acceptance, alternative mechanism, good offices of the Secretary General, and recently Ethiopia’s “accept and deceive in principle proposal”, all in flagrant violation of Algiers) with impunity simply because it is bizarre to sanction a country that owes every aspect of its national existence to the massive and continuous handout of the int’l community, which instead chose to tacitly neglect/ignore its obligation under the Algiers accord by passing toothless and inconsequential resolutions that Ethiopia overtly made a mockery of.


Yesterday, the head of the UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, complained about the ongoing war words between Eritrea and Ethiopia and remarked "In order for them [Eritrea and Ethiopia] to live in peace with each other, they have to realise that they are condemned by history to live together as neighbours". That is now a gutter lame excuse for the UN to duck its treaty obligation to uphold and ensure the decision of the Boundary Commission by blaming it on the lacking neighborly relations between the two countries when the real cause not only of the heated situation but as a matter of fact also the cause for the lacking Eritro-Ethiopia relation is Ethiopia’s adamant refusal to accept the border decision in flagrant violation of Algiers, which the UN should have acted upon in words and deeds.


The UN cannot limit itself to calling for peace and restraint or even blame it on side issue every time the Algiers Agreement is violated. The UN cannot duck its pledge to ensure full compliance with the Algiers agreement by limiting itself to an appeal for peace. The UN in its role as a guarantor is obliged by the treaty of Algiers to ensure that the decision of the Boundary Commission is upheld in words and deeds. Absent that, peace and tranquility in the region remains wishful thinking and the UN will have miserably failed the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia.