It is December already and another year is coming to an end. December marks important milestones in Eritrea’s history. It was on 2 December 1950 that Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia, a US ally, against the wishes of the Eritrean people.
It was in December 2000 that the Algiers Agreements between Eritrea and Ethiopia were signed, bringing an end to the bloody “border conflict” that cost the lives of thousands of Eritreans and Ethiopians.
23 December 2009 is remembered by all Eritreans, as it was on this day that the UN Security Council imposed the illegal, unjust and unfair sanctions against the State of Eritrea. For Eritreans in the Diaspora, December is a reminder of the double standards and hypocrisy of the “international community” and the “international system”. It is a reminder of the pain and suffering caused when the UN Security Council dithers…
Just a couple of days ago, Samantha Powers, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, in her remarks at a briefing by the Chair of the UN Security Council’s Iran Sanctions Committee, on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOS) said:
“…Five months have passed since the P-5+1 countries, the EU, and Iran concluded the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the JCPOA. I, like others, am pleased to note that the JCPOA participants are making progress in fulfilling their commitments under the deal. This Council cannot allow Iran to feel that it can violate our resolutions with impunity…Some Council members may not like those resolutions, but they are our resolutions…implementing Council resolutions is the sine qua non of a credible, enforceable nuclear deal and to suggest otherwise is to miss the point of the JCPOA-and the point of the UN Security Council…Instead of an effective, timely response the Security Council has dithered…The Security Council itself – we here, we 15 – must take responsibility to respond to violations of our resolutions…”
Reading these remarks, one is left wondering if Security Council responds to violations of its resolutions at all times, or if the Security Council has the luxury of cherry picking resolutions for enforcement. The record shows that when it came to Ethiopia…usually at the behest of the United States, the Security Council dithers…
Ethiopia is one of the few countries that repeatedly violates UN Security Council resolutions and has never suffered any consequence for doing so. Successive Ethiopian regimes have enjoyed diplomatic, political and military shield and support while flouting international law and violating Security Council resolutions in order to advance the interests of the Big Powers-and the peoples of the region have paid dearly for the excesses and belligerence of Ethiopia’s leaders. The silence of the Security Council, the body mandated to protect international peace and security, have resulted in dangerous and disastrous consequences for the peoples in the Horn region. Suffice it to mention a few examples…
On 2 December 1950, the UN General Assembly at the behest of the United States adopted Resolution 390 A (V) federating Eritrea with Ethiopia. But Ethiopia’s leaders were not content with the arrangements and in violation of the UN Resolution, annexed Eritrea in 1961, and declared it Ethiopia’s 14th province. This triggered the bitter 30 year armed struggle for Eritrea’s independence in which thousands lost their lives and thousands more were maimed, injured and displaced from their homes and villages. Peace, stability and security of the Horn of Africa was threatened by Ethiopia’s belligerence, but the Security Council did nothing to restore it. For 30 years as the war raged on in Eritrea, the Security Council dithered…
After a bloody two year conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia in 1998-2000, the Algiers Agreements were signed in December 2000 in Algeria. The UN Security Council “strongly welcoming and supporting” the Peace Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia stated the following in its Presidential Statement:
“… The Security Council reaffirms the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Eritrea and Ethiopia, and further reaffirms its continued commitment to a peaceful definitive settlement of the conflict…The Security Council notes with satisfaction that the Algiers Agreement includes mechanisms for the delimitation and demarcation of the common border and for addressing claims and compensation…”
The Algiers Agreement mandated the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) to delimit and demarcate the border “based on pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902, and 1908) and applicable international law” The Commission was not given power to make decisions “ex aequo et bono“ and that its delimitation and demarcation decision will be “final and binding”.
After a thorough review of all the evidence presented to them by the parties to the conflict, the distinguished Commissioners delivered the unanimous Final and Binding decision on 13 April 2002. Kofi Annan, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations and Amara Essy, the then Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (AU) touted the EEBC Decision as being:
“… a successful conclusion of the peace process on the basis of a legal settlement of the conflict…”
On 13 April 2002, the UN Security Council in its Press Release said:
“… Members of the Security Council express their satisfaction that a final legal settlement of the border issues between Ethiopia and Eritrea has been completed in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the parties in Algiers in December 2000… Members of the Security Council welcome the decision by the Boundary Commission, announced in The Hague on 13 April 2002, which is Final and Binding…”
The African Union (AU), European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and the United States (US), through their respective Press Statements and Releases officially endorsed and confirmed that the Border Commission’s decision was final and binding, and the UN Security Council adapted and endorsed it as such.
But when Ethiopia presented numerous obstacles to the EEBC’s work and attempted to amend, revisit and reverse the EEBC’s final and binding decision, the UN Security Council issued over two dozen resolutions calling on Ethiopia to abide by its treaty obligations, but instead of taking punitive actions as called for in the Algiers Agreements, the Security Council once again dithered and chose instead to appease the regime in Ethiopia. This has emboldened it to flout international law and the EEBC’s delimitation and demarcation decisions of 13 April 2002 and November 2007 respectively. Today, 13 years later, the regime continues to militarily occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme.
On 23 December 2009, the US – Ethiopia engineered sanctions resolution 1907 against the state of Eritrea was adopted by the Security Council, based on unsubstantiated allegations. The “evidences” against Eritrea were manufactured by Ethiopia and its handlers. The UN Monitoring Group has yet to provide any evidence to support its allegations against the State of Eritrea. Yet today, 6 years later, instead of annulling the illegal, unfair and unjust sanctions against Eritrea… once again, in order to appease Ethiopia, at the behest of the United States, the Security Council dithers…
But Ethiopia’s violations were not just against Eritrea…let us take a look how the Security Council reacted to Ethiopia’s invasion and occupation of Somalia in 2006.
On 6 December 2006, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1725 on the Somalia issue and reiterated:
“…its commitment to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the situation in Somalia though the Transitional Federal Charter, and stressing the importance of broad based and representative institutions and of an inclusive political process, as envisaged in the Transitional Federal Charter…all members, in particular those in the region, to refrain from any action in contravention of the arms embargo and related measures, and should take all actions necessary to prevent such contravention…”
The Security Council in Resolution 1725 specifically stated that countries bordering Somalia “would not deploy troops to Somalia”. But just weeks later, on 25th December 2006, when Ethiopia decided to launch its aggressive war of invasion, the UN Security Council remained conspicuously silent. Ethiopia’s invasion and occupation created the largest humanitarian disaster in Somalia’s history. Instead of taking punitive actions against Ethiopia, the United States instead provided the regime diplomatic, political and military shield and support, and the Security Council dithered…
Finally, paraphrasing Ambassador Samantha powers…
It has been 13 years since the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission delivered its final and binding decision and 5 years since the virtual demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border, so why is the Council allowing Ethiopia to feel that it can violate resolutions with impunity… Some Council members may not like those resolutions, but they are its own resolutions…implementing Council resolutions is the sine qua non of a credible, enforceable peace Agreement and to suggest otherwise is to miss the point of the internationally endorsed Algiers Agreements and the EEBC”s final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions-and the point of the UN Security Council…Instead of an effective, timely response the Security Council continues to dither…
It is NOT, as has been repeatedly stated by some quarters, up to the two parties, to enforce the EEBC’s decisions… the Security Council itself – all the 15 – must take responsibility to respond to Ethiopia’s violations of its own resolutions, the EEBC’s decisions, UN Charter and international law.
It is high time that the Security Council shoulder its moral and legal obligations and end Ethiopia’s 15 year occupation and restore Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!