Possible Council Vote on Eritrea Resolution

Sanction Threats on Eritrean Mining Industries are now dead on arrival. The final draft is now calling on states to “exercise increased vigilance”

By Whatsinblue.org,

It appears that Gabon circulated a revised draft resolution on Eritrea yesterday afternoon, announcing its intention of putting it to a vote today(Wednesday, 30 November).

While recent negotiations seem to have succeeded in narrowing differences between Council members, most on the Council seem not to have expected a vote so soon. (It seems the fact that today is the last day of the existing presidency in the Council might have been a factor in the timing.) It is unclear, however, whether Gabon has formally asked to have the draft put in blue, which would be necessary for the vote to proceed today.

In the latest draft it seems that some of the most controversial provisions proposed earlier have been revised. Instead of calling for an outright ban on investments in the Eritrean mining industry and urging states to prevent the provision of financial services that could contribute to destabilising activities, the text appears to call on states to “exercise increased vigilance” in these same areas.

It also seems that references to terrorism have similarly been deleted.

Other less controversial provisions that remain in the draft text seem to focus on Eritrea’s compliance with previous Council decisions, including resolutions 733, 1862, 1844 and 1907 and strict implementation of the existing sanctions regime. It is unclear whether the latest revisions satisfy all of the concerns previously expressed by Council members. Although the text is seen as more “balanced” by several Council members than previous drafts condemning Eritrea, some Council members still seem to have doubts about whether to support the resolution.

An additional element under consideration by the Council is the request submitted by Eritrea on 25 October (S/2011/663) for the Eritrean president to appear before the Council in order to respond to the allegations made against it in the latest report by the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (S/2011/433).

Some Council members seem to be arguing that the Council needs to listen to Eritrea before taking any further action against it. (Kenya and Ethiopia have made similar requests as Eritrea and—if the latter is invited—it seems they will likely be invited as well.) Several Council members seem to support this view, although the US has so far been opposed to granting the request.


By Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press),

UNITED NATIONS, November 30, — After a draft resolution to impose more UN Security Council sanctions on Eritrea was “put in blue” at 5:30 pm on Tuesday, the Council delayed a planned 10 am open debate on its Working Methods to fight behind closed doors about voting on the sanctions.

As Inner City Press exclusively reported Tuesday night, US Ambassador Susan Rice said the vote should take place Wednesday since Gabon, Nigeria and the regional IGAD group want the sanctions.

But the other African member of the Council, South Africa, questioned the rush to vote. Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki has asked to speak to the Council. Ambassador Rice put on a block, and as of now no other member has (“dared to”) call for a procedural vote, which it is predicted Rice would lose.

Most Council members spoken to by Inner City Press feel that if any head of state wants to speak with the Council, especially before sanctions are imposed, it should be allowed as a matter of due process and precedent.

On Wednesday morning sources told Inner City Press that Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said there should be no vote on the Eritrea draft TODAY. Inner City Press is told that Russia’s Churkin told Susan Rice, if you put it to a vote today, it won’t pass.

South Africa has amendments. Experts will meet — but will Rice get her way?


By Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press),

UNITED NATIONS, November 30 — After a closed door “showdown” in the Security Council between US Ambassador Rice and Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin about when and how to vote on proposed new Eritrea sanctions, Inner City Press asked Ambassador Rice if she thought there would be a vote in the afternoon on Eritrea sanctions. Ambassador Rice did not stop or answer.

Moments later, Russia’s Churkin emerged from the Council. He spoke at length with the Press, recounting that “we had some people working on the sanctions resolution, on and off… All of the sudden last night we were told the sponsors were moving the resolution in blue, voting… today.”

As Inner City Press exclusively reported Tuesday night, US Ambassador Susan Rice said the vote should take place Wednesday since Gabon, Nigeria and the regional IGAD group want the sanctions.

Churkin on Wednesday disagreed, saying “there is a 48 hour rule.. but at least 24 hours” between putting a text into blue and voting on it. He also noted that “more than a month ago, the president of Eritrea asked to address the Security Council. We believe it is his right under the UN Charter.”

Churkin said Afwerki’s request was “consulted on by President of the Council. One delegation was objecting. We did not precipitate this issue, we were not sure, if they were not in a hurry on the resolution… But under those circumstances, we think it would just be wrong to act today on this resolution. We should finalize experts that were interrupted and give a chance to the President of Eritrea to come to New York.”

Churkin said that Afwerki sent “another letter today that he wants to come and speak before the vote.”

About the draft, Churkin said, “we have two or three concerns, some other have more, some African countries… it’s not some kind of an urgent matter because of some crisis.”

The Council’s stated agenda was a debate on its Working Methods. Churkin said on Eritrea this is “not a good method of work.”

Inner City Press asked Churkin why no procedural vote had been called for after Ambassador Rice blocked granting Afwerki’s request to address the Council. Churkin explained, “if we were told a vote is going to take place a week from now, we will go for procedural vote… May be this is why they rushed into blue, not to let him come. I think it is a ridiculous thing.”