BY SIMON WELDEMICHAEL
The 72nd regular session of the UN General Assembly started at UN Headquarters on Tuesday, 12 September 2017. It has been announced that the General debate will be open on Tuesday, 19 September 2017, with a focus on the theme, “focusing on People: Striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”.
The President of the 72nd session of the UNGA, Slovakian diplomat Miroslav Lajcak, identified some six overarching priorities for his tenure following his election. Out of the six priorities set out by the president “prevention and mediation for sustaining peace” attracts the attention of many Eritreans who are observing and noticing the on going UNGA session.
The United Nations stated through its Charter that it was founded “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” Despite these bright prospects, a fatal fissure quickly opened at the heart of the international organization. The UN had not performed the function that it had been created for. Throughout international organization headquarters in Geneva, New York, Paris, Vienna, The Hague and others around the world, world leaders (actual and symbolic leaders) convened to discuss on international matters to no avail. They continually whispered something that did never really think of it.
Frantz Fanon in his informative book “the wretched of the earth” has described accurately the constant sterile move of African and Asian leaders: “these leaders of empty countries who talk too loud are exasperating… The leaders and students of the underdeveloped countries are a gold mine for the airlines. Asian and African official can attend a seminar on socialist planning in Moscow one week and then another on free trade in London or at Columbia University the next” (Fanon 41-42).
Countless but fruitless international conferences and sessions were convened in western capitals and were attended by leaders and scholars simply to give hands for the deliverance of interest groups. Africa lacked clear sighted national leadership that visibly represent on its home and international forum. To date, African countries form the largest regional grouping at the UN, with over a quarter of all UN member states. On the contrary, speaking with one voice at the UN and synchronizing their position has become an ongoing challenge for African states.
UN General Assembly is one of the organs of UN formed to bring together representatives of the world’s countries. It creates a platform through which countries can share their problems with the rest of the world, so that a common solution can be found to these problems.
The case of Eritrea was appeared before UNGA right after the establishment of the institution. Nevertheless the Eritrean case has never been received proper attention and investigation of UNGA.
In 1950s despite the repeated calls of Eritreans for independence and self determination, UNGA passed a shame federal resolution that paved way for the inhumane Ethiopian colonization. And now despite the illegal occupation of Eritrean territory in the hands of Ethiopia, UNGA passed repetitive sanction resolutions against Eritrea. This act of reprimanding the upright is a clear sign of decadence of the institution and give weight to the recurrent calls of revitalization. Eritrea among the many afflicted countries repeatedly called for the revitalization of UN and its bodies.
UNGA has to enhance its capacity to fulfill the role envisaged for it under the United Nation charter and increase its effectiveness in the interest of international community. General Assembly is the only organ in which each member state of the United Nations has equal opportunity to participate in the decision making process. Eritrea becomes member of the UN immediately after independence. Eritrea was and still is a country that fully respects and strives for the implementation of the UN charter and subsequent resolutions including various international treaties and conventions.
— IPPNW Africa (@IPPNW_Africa) September 19, 2017
Eritrea’s advanced principle based on supremacy of law and order was however, didn’t get appropriate response when the country appealed for justice and truce. The patience of Eritrea was admired by many for its continuity in face of repeated denial and ironic approval. The long tradition of law and order in Eritrean society that amazed European travellers and Italian colonizers of Eritrea was probably responsible for the current strict adherence of law on face of the anarchic nature of international system.
Italian Carlo Conti Rossini after meticulous observation of Eritrean customary laws, he described them as “police with out army”. The United Nations General Assembly is usually defined as the “chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations”. It is deliberative, because it is free to discuss and make recommendations on any questions or matters within the scope of the UN Charter.
Therefore, UNGA has to bear its deliberative role by bringing the baseless and unjust sanction imposed on Eritrea, the illegitimate occupation of Eritrean sovereign territory by Ethiopia and the insubordination of Ethiopia to the implementation of the “final and binding” court verdict given on April 2002.
Ensuring the implementation of the court verdict given by Ethiopia – Eritrea Boundary Commission (EEBC) was primarily the responsibility of UN and its bodies. Despite the illegal occupation of our sovereign territory and the violations of border decision and the contravention of international law by Ethiopia, much has been done including the unjust sanction to Eritrea.
This is perhaps done to divert our attention and prevent from articulating our prime grievances. President Isaias Afwerki in one of his interviews uncovered the reason behind the rambling of UNSC, instead of focusing to the point of respecting international law and the decision of EEBC:
“The line of reasoning behind the distorting maneuvers dictates that the issue of border demarcation will be forgotten with the passage of time. According to that argument, other agendas [sanction and human rights among others] would be tabled to distort the main issue and continuously place us in a defensive position, thus rendering the border ruling and its implementation null and void. However, these ploys will not succeed” (interview 2011).
If this was done to silence our protest, we will never ceased calling for the implementation of the ruling and UNGA has to deal the matter seriously.
Leaving aside the torrent of unproductive and speculative words, UN and its General Assembly have observed a number of catastrophic failures, resulting in lawlessness and subsequent disappearance of peace and stability. Terrorism, riotous nuclear proliferation, aggression, intra and inter state conflicts plagued the globe. Many cases remain unresolved and many decisions suspended due to lack of enforcement.
The final and binding decision of EEBC was classic example of unreasonable suspension of decision due to mollycoddle treatment of Ethiopia in return for her service role played in the region. This breach of law and act of aggression although harmed Eritrea in its first place, have a far reaching consequence for global peace and sustainability of UN. Forcing Ethiopia to accept the decision of boundary commission and facilitate its implementation on ground will contribute a lot to the credibility of UN and to restore regional and international peace and security.
Eritrea wishes to see the UN General Assembly adorned by international, impartial and independent jewelry.
Presidential advisor and head of PFDJ political affairs Yemane Ghebreab at the interactive dialogue, UNGA Third Committee has stated clearly the aspiration and expectation of Eritrea:
“Yet, Eritrea does not seek favored treatment. It seeks fairness. It asks for a level playing field. More importantly, it encourages mutual solidarity and support.”
Eritrea never wants preferred or extra favoured treatment. We called to UN to critically and fairly collect, consolidate and analyze evidence of violations of UN charter, international law and conventions in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent judgment.
UN and its General Assembly should rule the world by justice. The Holly scripture tells us that “By justice a king builds up the land, but he who exacts gifts tears it down” (Pro 29:4). Until now UN along its bodies have made the earth to tremble and torn it open, we therefore as Eritreans and members of international community remind you that our souls thirst for justice like a thirsty land.
We are calling to UNGA to bear its responsibility not begging for preferential treatment. Under any circumstances, we will never barter our principles for nasty support. National pride of Eritrea is the underlying basis for the proper execution of our political and diplomatic line. The long tradition of Eritrean people and the revolutionary culture of EPLF didn’t allow us to singing to the tone of any outer power to appeal to their generous sides and secure support.
As for the people of Eritrea living in their own reality and dreams, there exist no alternative but readiness to any “ifs”. Our hearts as always begin to beat the national rhythm and we loudly sing unending hymns to the glory of our gallant fighters and development workers. While we primarily put faith and hope on ourselves and the justness of our cause, Eritreans awaits the resuscitation of the UN and its General Assembly to discuss the Eritrean case fairly. We wish to remind to every conscientious being, Eritrea is a nation born in the struggle for human rights. We will not be contained by the deafening silence and detrimental inaction of concerned bodies.
Patriot Bahta Hagos who lead the popular uprising against Italians in 1894 had explained the motives for his resistance with the rhetorical question; “what do we do with the Italians who have come to take our lands away” (Negash 1987, 124).
EPLF’s popular saying “much less a span of land we’ll never give up a hand of soil” and the widely spread Tigrigna proverb “nrsti ywagaAla ansti” altogether have an inherent message that keeping Eritrean land costs much.
The answer as to “what do we do with the Ethiopians who have occupied our land” is known for every Eritrean and one day the world will awake from its lethargy by the reverberation of that answer. The failure to actively pursue justice is not without consequences.