Security Council: How Many Times Does a Resolution Have to be Passed?
By: Isaias G.
March 19, 2005

As expected the Security Council of the United Nations (UNSC) has once again passed a resolution to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) until 15 September 2005. This is happening for the ninth time since the UNSC mandated UNMEE in September 2000. The mission, which has been costing the international community hundreds of millions of dollars every year, was supposed to temporarily monitor a security zone until a demarcation of the boarder between the two countries based on the decision of the Boundary Commission. But due to the failure of the international community, particularly the SC, to take concrete measures towards implementing the agreement signed on its watch, nothing can be achieved in this regard and we are witnessing the SC extending UNMEE's mandate indefinitely.      

Instead of taking other routes to bring this stalemate to an end, the SC is keeping on echoing its previous dead resolutions every six months only to keep the matter in a meaningless vicious circle. When we look at the so many contradictions and inconsistencies of the latest resolutions, we can easily notice that the SC has not been serious on the matter. I will just point some of these paradoxes:       

The SC while calling on Ethiopia 'without preconditions' to start the implementation of demarcation, by taking the necessary steps to enable the Commission to demarcate the border completely and promptly; also 'welcomes' Ethiopia's five point proposal of November 25 2004. Mind you, how can the SC welcome Ethiopia's proposal that puts 'dialogue' as a precondition for implementing the Boundary Commission decision, while calling on the same nation to go for implementation without preconditions?

The SC has also called on the witnesses to the Algiers Agreements 'to play a more concerted and active role' to facilitate their full implementation. But at the very heart of these witnesses is the UN itself represented by its Secretary General. What kind of 'concerted and active role' are the witnesses expected to play, while the SC itself, with full mandate and authority to take actions against the refusing party, based on the agreements, is failing to live up to its expectations? Why is the SC pointing on others while it has failed to do its own homework?     

While this stalemate is solely as a result of Ethiopia's refusal, the SC has again taken trivial issues to give Eritrea a share as a deviating party in this game - only to cover its failure. The issue of Special Envoy, Lloyd Axworthy has again come as a point of discussion, while it has nothing to do with Eritrea's position on the very issue of the problem. As the Council itself has noted, Eritrea has lived up to its expectations, by accepting the decision of the boundary commission fully and unconditionally. The agreement, however, cannot be implemented simply because Ethiopia has refused to be abided by the law and the international community, particularly the SC, have failed to play their role. In such a situation, instead of negotiating and working with Ethiopia to convince or enforce it to abide by the law and go forward, there came a game - Special Envoy, to work with the law abiding and the law breaking on the same footing.   

What kind of miracle is the Security Council expecting from Mr. Lloyd Axworthy? While the decision to settle the boarder conflict is there, while the core problem lies solely in Ethiopia's rejection of the final and binding decision, while the way out from this stalemate is to do something with Ethiopia and only with Ethiopia, why is this unnecessary diplomatic manoeuvre? The SC has tried to justify this by pointing that 'this appointment does not constitute an alternative mechanism'. If the Special Envoy is, as we are told, only 'to facilitate the implementation of the Algiers Agreements and the decision of the Boundary Commission' then things have to be worked out in Addis Ababa with the Ethiopian government and then and only then we can have something to be facilitated. How can the Special Envoy 'facilitate' an implementation of a decision which is thrown as illegal and unjust and which the other party has refused to implement?      

Just for the sake of the record the SC has also put in its resolution that the two parties should work 'to achieve a full normalization of their relationship, including through political dialogue for the adoption of further confidence-building measures'. I would say this is nothing more than wishful thinking and an attempt to put the cart before the horse.  While the major stumbling block is there because of Ethiopia's rejection of rule of law, while Ethiopia is occupying Eritrean sovereign territory and while, as a result of these, tension is on the mount, talking about normalization and political dialogue is nothing but mockery.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean peoples have been waiting to see the end to this stalemate. The cloud of war that we once again are witnessing in the region is the result of the Security Council's failure to implement its own law. War now means more suffer to the peoples of the region. The UN as an entrusted international body has been tested by this uncomplicated case and has proved that it means nothing in protecting its own laws. While the matter is crystal clear and the solution is on its hand, the SC has chosen to avoid facing the reality and to continue to engage in playing with 'resolutions', which it has been doing for years but without any fruit.    

A regime that has repeatedly failed to respect previous resolutions of the SC cannot be expected now to do so. For the UN, it is now time to act and take serious measures that could lead to the implementation of previous agreements and move forward. While there are previous resolutions that the Ethiopian regime has denied to respect, there is no point now talking about further resolutions, as they will only fall on deaf ears.