Eritrea – Ethiopia: Imminent Peace

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Eritrea – Ethiopia Boundary Commission Ruling is on its 13th Anniversary
FAILING JUSTICE. The Eritrea – Ethiopia Boundary Commission Ruling is on its 13th Anniversary. But being on the run through the avenue of miscarriage until when?


IT HAS been 13 years since the final and binding delimitation of the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Ethiopia continues to illegally occupy sovereign Eritrean territories including the town of Badme hence jeopardising peace between to the two neighbourly countries.

Eritrea and Ethiopia went to war between 1998 – ­2000. In 18 June, 2000 the two countries, under international auspices, signed a cessation of hostilities and later a Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 12 December 2000 establishing the five ­member Eritrea­Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC). The members of the EEBC were selected two each by the countries, and the 5th or the president was chosen by the other four members. The Commission was the only authority that was mandated to delimit and demarcate the border and its decisions were to be taken as “Final and Binding“.

The EEBC gave its “final and binding” decision on Saturday 13 April 2002 at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Five years later, the EEBC, unable to physically demarcate the border, because of Ethiopia’s refusal to cooperate, gave its final and binding virtual demarcation described in 45 maps and the coordinates of 146 boundary pillar sites.

Eritrea has fully complied with the EEBC’s decision, Ethiopia, however, remains in breach of international law by refusing to comply with the commission’s orders. Ethiopia wants to dialogue about the border with Eritrea before implementing the final and binding decision instead of vacating sovereign Eritrean territories it is illegally occupying. This Ethiopian intransigence has held peace in the Horn of Africa a hostage. Ethiopia’s demand for talks before implementing the final and binding agreement is obvious; it wants to undermine the EEBC decision. This is unacceptable to Eritrea; it can not enter into discussion with a country that is not willing to implement what it signed to be final and binding. There is no guarantee Ethiopia would do the same with any future agreement. Simply put Ethiopia cannot be trusted to abide by any Agreement it signs.

For 13 years since, Ethiopia has been flip­flopping a countless times; it was quick to declare it had accepted the ruling of the EEBC before the ink of the decision dried. Its Foreign Minister, Seyoum Mesfin, in a press conference 13 April 2002 said that

“Sanity has won over insanity, and that the rule of law has prevailed over the rule of the jungle. … The ruling of the boundary commission is fair and appropriate. The ruling has proved once more again Ethiopia to be right.​… Ethiopia is fully satisfied with the decision of the independent boundary commission​. According to the Algiers peace deal, both parties should accept the decision of the boundary commission as final and binding with no right to appeal.” ­­Seyoum Mesfin, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, April 13, 2002​.

And Ethiopia’s parliament was calling

“Accordingly, pursuant to the Algiers Agreement, the FDRE Government accepts and is ready to implement the legal decision of the Commission.…The Government of Ethiopia would like to take this opportunity to extend its regards to the Boundary Commission for discharging its duties with a sense of responsibility and great care. The Government of Ethiopia would also like to express its strong interest in the speedy demarcation of the boundary​. In this respect, the FDRE Government would like to emphasize that the Eritrean Government should honor its obligation to cooperate in the demarcation process​.” ­­ Statement issued by the Council of Ministers of Ethiopia, April 13, 2002.

However, Ethiopia did not take long before it started heaping insults at the very same Commission it praised the morning the decision was given

“Despite the veneer of normalcy in the work of the Boundary Commission, I am afraid the work of the commission is in terminal crisis​. The key to the crisis of the work of the Commission is its totally illegal, unjust, and irresponsible decision on Badme and parts of the Central Sector. … The decision is thus a recipe for continued instability, and even recurring wars​. …Nothing worthwhile can therefore be expected from the Commission to salvage the peace process​. Indeed, the Commission seems to be determined to continue its disastrous stance whatever the consequence to the peace of the region. … The Commission’s decisions could lead into another round of war. The Security Council has an obligation, to avert war…”

With this Ethiopia refused to cooperate with the Commission. Come November 2004, it came up with “accepting in principle” , where it says it accepts the decision in principle, but wouldn’t implement it unless it gets all the territories it had claimed to be its.

Eritrea’s rightful demand is for unconditional implementation of the decision and vacating of all illegally occupied territories before any talk can take place.

This Ethiopian behavior is due to encouragement and cover the Ethiopian government has been receiving from the United States. In 2006 Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, asked the then US Permanent Representative to the UN, John Bolton, to
argue before the UN Security Council so that the EEBC decision could be opened and Ethiopia to be awarded land that is not legally entitled to.

Here is how Ambassador John Bolton wrote in his book “Surrender not an Option”:

“…For reasons I never understood Frazer reversed course, and asked in early February to reopen the 2002 decision, which she had concluded was wrong, and award a major piece of disputed territory to Ethiopia. I was at a loss how to explain that to the Security Council, so I didn’t…”

Further insult to the international rule of law by Ethiopia is when its Prime Minster Meles Zenawi arrogantly said the EEBC’s decision was ”nonsense” when asked in “Talk to Al Jazeera” by Mohammed Adow in November 2007. What followed was the regime in Addis Ababa objective of working towards a “regime change” in Eritrea. Since then, Ethiopia has been provoking Eritrea by sending terrorists
into Eritrea and an armed incursion into Eritrea’s territory. Eritrea, however, has wisely controlled the situation and brilliantly exposed Ethiopia’s belligerent attitude.

End Ethiopia’s Belligerence in the Horn of Africa.

The Rule of Law Will Prevail over the Rule of the Jungle.

Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission Watch