Global Policy Forum

Eritrea, UN Sign Protocol Agreement on Law

April 18, 2001

The United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) today signed an agreement with the government of Eritrea outlining the rules of interaction between UN peacekeepers and law enforcement and security elements represented by police and militia in the future Temporary Security Zone (TSZ).

The new protocol was signed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, who is the head of UNMEE, and by the Eritrean Commissioner for Coordination with the UN Peacekeeping Mission, Andebrhan Woldegiorgis.

The protocol underlines UNMEE's freedom of movement in the TSZ and covers issues such as the types of weapons that can be carried by militia and police within the zone, and outlines procedures for handling incidents where persons attempt to enter the zone with arms.

The agreement stipulates that all members of UNMEE have "complete freedom of movement" within the TSZ and across its lines, both north and south. This covers free and direct land and air passage. Further, there is to be "no interference" to the peacekeepers executing their tasks from any party within the TSZ, be they police, militia, customs/finance or immigration officials.

UNMEE's peacekeeping tasks as listed in the protocol include monitoring the TSZ, particularly key and sensitive points, through the use of checkpoints and patrols; ensuring full respect for the agreed upon limits of the TSZ; and investigating incidents and violations. Militia and police are to fully cooperate with the peacekeepers as they carry out their tasks. Liaison officers are to be appointed to each peacekeeping force company and battalion.

All militia and police are to carry identification cards and weapons permits in the TSZ, and must wear distinctive uniforms. UNMEE is to be informed in advance of any group movement of 20 or more militia members outside their duty areas. The protocol determines that UNMEE and the commission will endeavour to jointly develop procedures for dealing with emergencies that may require movements of police or militia about which prior notification may not be possible. Also, the agreement states that there are to be no militia standing checkpoints in the TSZ. UNMEE is to be informed in advance, or promptly in cases of urgent necessity, of police and customs checkpoints within the TSZ.

The agreement stipulates that only police and militia can carry personal weapons within the TSZ. No heavy weapons or heavy weapons base plates/platforms are to be allowed within the TSZ.

Militia or police grenades, ammunition and section- and crew-served weapons, including RPG-7s, are to be stockpiled, inventoried and secured at specific locations identified to UNMEE in advance. These locations are subject to UNMEE's inspection to confirm that all such weapons are stockpiled.

Disagreements between the militia/police and the peacekeeping force arising within the TSZ should be resolved through the normal established channels, the agreement states.

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