Security Council Expresses Intention to Review Eritrea Sanctions

The Security Council Extends Arms Embargoes on Somalia, Eritrea, Adopting Resolution 2317 (2016) by 10 Votes in Favour, with 5 Abstentions.

 Monitoring Group Report
The Resolution expresses the intention of the Security Council to review sanctions on Eritrea in light of the upcoming midterm update by the SEMG due by 30 April 2017

By TesfaNews,

The UN Security Council extends on Thursday (10) its arms embargoes on Somalia and Eritrea, Adopting Resolution 2317 (2016) by a vote of 10 in favour, none against, and with 5 abstentions (Angola, China, Egypt, Russian Federation, Venezuela).

The Council also extended the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) until 15 December 2017, and urged the Government of Eritrea to facilitate the Group’s entry into that country.

The SEMG reported that it had not found any evidence that the government of Eritrea is supporting Al-Shabaab during the course of its current and two previous mandates and as such recommended that the Council consider the disassociation of Eritrea and Somalia sanctions.



As penholder of the resolution, the United Kingdom refused to take up the recommendation to disassociate the regimes.

While the main aspects of the resolution concerning Somalia were uncontroversial and largely agreed upon, finding consensus on several issues concerning Eritrea led several council members to withdraw their support to the resolution, even though they agree on elements of the resolution on Somalia.

Perhaps the most difficult issue that led five member states to disassociate themselves from the resolution was regarding the request for a review of the sanctions on Eritrea.

China earlier proposed a complete review of the Eritrea sanction based on three consecutive reports of the monitoring group. The group’s reports concluded that all the relevant issues that led to the imposition of sanction on Eritrea are now non-existent.

China’s proposal requests the SEMG to present a report within 120 days to the Committee on recommendations for lifting sanctions on Eritrea, including benchmarks and a timeframe for lifting the sanctions.

Again, the proposal was rejected by the penholder. The United Kingdom along with the US wanted the sanction on Eritrea to continue any way.

The politically motivated rejection by the United Kingdom then led to the complete withdrawal of support to the entire Somalia Eritrea Resolution 2317 (2016) by Angola, China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela, although they support elements of the resolution on Somalia.

That was a disappointment to the United Kingdom representative as he was certain to to get a unanimous vote for his resolution.

As a compromise, however, the penholder [UK] quickly incorporated text in the resolution expressing the Council’s intention to review sanction on Eritrea by April 2017.

“34. Expresses its intention to review measures on Eritrea in light of the upcoming midterm update by the SEMG due by 30 April 2017, and taking into account relevant Security Council resolutions;

Speaking in his capacity as the Chair of the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group, Ambassador Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno of Venezuela was critical of the United Kingdom as penholder for using the sanction measure as a collective punishment against Eritrea. He said,

“[…] the sanctions imposed on Eritrea had no further political purpose beyond serving the national interests of permanent members.”

“The Monitoring Group had submitted a professional opinion that pointed to the case for lifting the sanctions,” he said, pointing out that for three years in a row, no evidence had been found of Eritrea lending support to Al-Shabaab.

Qatar was working to obtain the release of a number of prisoners of war and to settle the dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, and a roadmap was needed for lifting the sanctions. China’s proposal to address that issue had won the support of five members, but the penholder [UK] seemed to believe it was not appropriate,” he noted.

The United Kingdom’s representative, however, said, “we don’t welcome the progress because nothing has changed,” while emphasizing that the lack of cooperation on the part of the country’s authorities had “tied the international community’s hands”.

Statements

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said the lack of cooperation by that country’s authorities had tied the international community’s hands. “We don’t welcome the progress because nothing has changed,” he declared, adding that the Council had engaged with regional stakeholders in order to balance views on the text.

WU HAITAO (China) said his country hoped the Security Council would pay close attention to changes on the ground and make timely adjustments, while remaining responsive to the legitimate concerns of States.



JULIO HELDER MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said his delegation had abstained from the vote because the Monitoring Group had found no evidence of Eritrea’s support for Al-Shabaab. While a constructive proposed roadmap towards changing the sanctions regime would encourage the Government of Eritrea to engage with the international community, that proposal had not been considered, he noted.

ISOBEL COLEMAN (United States), emphasizing her strong support for the resolution, which targeted causes of instability in the Horn of Africa, said that sanctions regimes were an important part of the international community’s response to the situation there. Eritrea had called for an end to the sanctions but its lack of cooperation was not the path to lifting them, she said. While no evidence had been found that Eritrea supported Al-Shabaab, that was difficult to corroborate because the Monitoring Group had not been allowed to visit the country. No information had been provided on the fate of Djiboutian prisoners of war.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said his delegation had been forced to abstain from the vote because the Monitoring Group had affirmed that there was no evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab in Somalia. The allegations of its support for regional armed groups simply did not exist anymore, he emphasized, suggesting that a roadmap be drawn up on the matter.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) emphasized that the resolution’s wording should have been more balanced. Acknowledging positive developments, including the absence of support for Al-Shabaab, he called upon Council members to use clear criteria when determining sanctions, adding that it should be done in such a way as to promote peace and security, while resolving regional concerns. Stressing that sanctions must not continue forever, he said they must be flexible enough to be responsive to changes on the ground.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said he had abstained from voting on the resolution because the section on Eritrea was unfair. The Sanctions Committee’s workings were a clear example of imposing sanctions as an end in itself, he said, speaking in his capacity as Chair of that subsidiary body. Such measures should not be used for the collective punishment of a country, he said, emphasizing that the sanctions imposed on Eritrea had no further political purpose beyond serving the national interests of permanent members.

The Monitoring Group had submitted a professional opinion that pointed to the case for lifting the sanctions, he said, pointing out that for three years in a row, no evidence had been found of Eritrea lending support to Al-Shabaab. Qatar was working to obtain the release of a number of prisoners of war and to settle the dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti, and a roadmap was needed for lifting the sanctions. China’s proposal to address that issue had won the support of five members, but the penholder [UK] seemed to believe it was not appropriate, he noted. Venezuela supported the resolution’s elements on Somalia, he added.

AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea) said the Council had committed a grave injustice against his country’s people, declaring: “There is no reason to maintain sanctions against Eritrea.” The Monitoring Group had proven the justification for the measures non-existent, he pointed out, emphasizing that the sanctions had been detrimental not only to Eritrea, but also to the wider Horn of Africa region. Sanctions encouraged zero-sum approaches and imparted a sense of impunity on the part of some countries, he said. Turning to Djibouti, he said Eritrea supported the State of Qatar’s mediation, which had resulted in the release of all prisoners of war.

MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti) expressed concern about his country’s combatants missing in action since the 2008 clashes with Eritrea. That country’s release of prisoners in March had raised hope, but unfortunately, its past practices continued. Furthermore, Al-Shabaab continued to pose a serious threat to peace and stability in Somalia, he noted, expressing support for extending the sanctions regime.

Resolution 2317 (2016): Eritrea

“30. Welcomes the SEMG’s ongoing and significant efforts to engage with the Government of Eritrea, in that context recalls the two meetings between the Representative of the Government of Eritrea and the SEMG, reiterates its expectation that the Government of Eritrea will facilitate the entry of the SEMG to Eritrea, to discharge fully its mandate, in line with its repeated requests, including in paragraph 52 of resolution 2182 (2014); and underlines that deepened cooperation will help the Security Council be better informed about Eritrea’s compliance with the relevant Security Council resolutions;

“31. Urges the Government of Eritrea to facilitate a visit of the SEMG to Eritrea, and thereafter to support regular visits to Eritrea by the SEMG;

“32. Calls on Eritrea to cooperate fully with the SEMG, in accordance with the SEMG’s mandate contained in paragraph 13 of resolution 2060 (2012) and updated in paragraph 41 of resolution 2093 (2013);

“33. Stresses its demand that the Government of Eritrea allow access and make available any detailed information, including to the SEMG, pertaining to the Djiboutian combatants missing in action since the clashes of 2008 so that those concerned may ascertain the presence and conditions of any remaining Djiboutian prisoners of war;

“34. Expresses its intention to review measures on Eritrea in light of the upcoming midterm update by the SEMG due by 30 April 2017, and taking into account relevant Security Council resolutions;