The Case of the Eritrean-Ethiopian Conflict
By: Habteab Gabriel
December 3, 2004  

"WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, ?to save the world from the scourge of war, ??and establish conditions?..?(These are excerpts from the UN Charter) Let us look at the gap between words and deeds!

The earliest concrete plan for the formation of a new world organization began under the auspices of the U.S. State Department late in 1939. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt coined the name United Nations in 1941 to describe the countries fighting against the Axis. It was first used officially on Jan. 1, 1942, when 26 states joined in the Declaration by the United Nations, pledging to continue their joint war effort and not to make peace separately. The need for an international organization to replace the League of Nations was first stated officially on Oct. 30, 1943, in the Moscow Declaration, issued by China, Great Britain, the United States, and the USSR. The Charter of the United Nations comprises a preamble and 19 chapters divided into 111 articles. The charter sets forth the purposes of the UN as: the maintenance of international peace and security; the development of friendly relations among states; and the achievement of cooperation in solving international economic, social, cultural, and humanitarian problems. It expresses a strong hope for the equality of all people and the expansion of basic freedoms.

To be fair, the UN has not been without successes. The organization played a constructive role in helping to end the armed conflicts in El Salvador and Mozambique and in supervising elections that brought independence and democracy to Namibia. Nevertheless, the failures are decidedly more spectacular than the successes and serve to emphasize the UN's inherent limitations. When the U.N. was founded, it was expected to insure peace forever. Its forums did constrain tension during the long and delicate Cold War era, possibly preventing World War III and other major conflicts. However, the U.N. has been less effective in resolving civil wars, which in the last decade alone have increased. As in Bosnia, established U.N. procedures seldom apply; authority and clear guidelines are nonexistent. Most ruling parties will not let U.N. officials communicate with revolutionaries. Without mediation, the wars continue. The U.N. has terrible public relations. Most wars between countries were and are waged due to the irresponsible and negligent manners of the United Nations. Let us take for instance, the atrocities and genocide or ethnic cleansing in Rwanda, the war in the Democratic republic of Congo, the Liberian civil war, civil war in Sierra Leone, political turmoil in Cameroon, genocide in the Sudan and the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war.

How can anyone forget when the United Nations deliberately threw Eritrea into Ethiopian hands denying Eritreans their very basic human right in the 1950?s? How about in the 1960?s when Ethiopia officially and forcefully dissolved the federation, annexed Eritrea, and reduced it to a province? Where was the United Nations during the thirty long years of blood shed with thousands of lives lost in both Eritrea and Ethiopia? Did the UN budge? NO! The United Nations has created conditions for hate and revulsion between neighboring peoples in many parts of the world. For instance during the 1998-2000 Eritrea and Ethiopia war, the UN knew the whole intention of the rogue regime in Ethiopia. As the Eritrea-Ethiopia border war came to an end due to the strong will and determination of the Eritrean people and government, it was a blow to the United Nations that the scoundrel regime in Ethiopia finally gave up the fight and forced to negotiation in the terms of the Eritrean people and government. When the two countries agreed to an independent border commission, the UN was not as active a partner as it should have been, and it clearly shows now. The UN has failed repeatedly when it comes to Eritrea and the Secretary General never put an effort to end the problem in the Horn of Africa and alleviate the suffering of millions of people mostly guided by the interest of Powers and favorable nations. The UN is definitely derailed from its own constitution. It has become another way of making millions of dollars for many of the UN employees. The corrupt nature of some UN employees and senior diplomats has brought the organization under intense investigation; in some instances it has been accused of harboring and paying full salary for an individual who participated in the Rwandan genocide; has there been more in the past?

 However, we have to start somewhere to improve the world. We have so many ways to do that job. We should find ways to bring about peace and justice to isolated areas. Only then, can we work to solve the specific needs of each area. Therefore, what do you say, members of the United Nations, especially those in the United Nations Security Council?