Global Policy Forum

Security Council Criticizes Ethiopia and Eritrea for Failing to Follow Peace Plan

Associated Press
May 6, 2004

The U.N. Security Council criticized Ethiopia and Eritrea on Tuesday for failing to implement a peace deal in which both countries agreed to accept the ruling of an international commission on their disputed boundary. The council expressed concern "at the deterioration in the cooperation of Eritrea" with U.N. peacekeepers monitoring implementation of the December 2000 peace agreement and Ethiopia's continued rejection of "significant parts" of the boundary commission's ruling.

The Horn of Africa neighbors fought a brutal 2 1/2 year war, ostensibly over their 1,000 kilometer border that was never formally decided when Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 in a referendum after a 30-year guerrilla war. Under a December 2000 agreement that ended the conflict, both sides agreed to the demarcation of the border by a Boundary Commission - part of the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration. But Ethiopia criticized the commission's ruling, particularly the decision to locate the western town of Badme which it administered prior to the conflict - and still administers - in Eritrean territory.

More than 4,000 U.N. peacekeepers are deployed in the two countries to monitor a 25-kilometer buffer zone along the border. They are expected to leave the region once the border has been physically marked but that process has not been completed. In late January, Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Canada's former foreign minister, Lloyd Axworthy, as his special envoy for Ethiopia-Eritrea, expressing serious concern about the lack of progress in implementing the peace agreement.

After a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hedi Annabi, the council issued a statement Tuesday saying Ethiopia's continued rejection of the commission's ruling "heightens regional tension and blocks completion" of the U.N.'s mission. Council members said Ethiopia's failure "to permit full demarcation to go forward," and Eritrea's "increasing restrictions" on the U.N.'s work "raised serious questions about the long-term viability of this mission." The council called on Eritrea to allow full freedom of movement for U.N. peacekeepers as required in Security Council resolutions and called on both parties to cooperate fully with the boundary commission so demarcation can "proceed expeditiously." Members called on Ethiopia and Eritrea to work with Axworthy to explore ways of moving the demarcation process forward.

More Information on the Security Council
More Information on Ethiopia and Eritrea


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