A chapter that must be closed
By: Adem Berhan
February 22, 2004
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has sent his special envoy, Canadian diplomat Lloyd
Axworthy, to the Horn of Africa in a bid to push the peace process forward. Mr.
Annan fully knows that the party that is obstructing the administration of justice
and stalling the implementation of the border demarcation is the Ethiopian government.
So the questions that naturally follow are: why is Secretary Annan not sanctioning
the breaching party? why should Eritrea, the complying party, be victimized
again and again?
An enforceable international agreement had been entered into and signed in Algiers, Algeria, between and among the two parties as well as the guarantors or enforcers of the agreement, namely the UN, EU, AU and USA. Subsequently, a special border commission was set up with a mandate to delimit and demarcate the international border between the two countries. The border commission had completed the delimitation phase by April 2002 and was about to begin and finish the actual demarcation last year when the Ethiopian government refused to cooperate with the commission.
These being the facts, however, the reaction from the guarantors to the Ethiopian government's behavior has been disappointingly meek. Emboldened by the international community's failure to invoke sanctions the Ethiopian government has stiffened its defiance. The guarantors have clearly failed to discharge their legal as well as moral obligations. The peace loving peoples of Eritrea, Ethiopia and elsewhere would like to see this tragic chapter closed as soon as possible.
We have lost too many loved ones on both sides. We have witnessed families get separated, exiled and humiliated. We have seen wanton destruction of property. We want to end peacefully and legally the cycle of violence and suffering and join forces in fighting poverty, drought, illiteracy and diseases. The closure of the tragic chapter and the start of one of hope is urgently needed now.