Horn of Africa
By: Mengisteab Tesfamikael
November 3, 2005
As the situation in the Horn of Africa becomes dangerous, the United Nations
is solely to be blamed for not doing its job. The Eritrean and Ethiopian boundary
Commission rendered its verdict two and half years ago. The UN, the European
Union, the U. S. and the African Union were the guarantors of the decision of
the Commission, but failed to implement the decision of the Commission.
It is not because they didnít have the power, but that they are not interested in forcing Ethiopia to accept the judgment of the Commission. One would ask as to why? I think it is clear in these days it is not enough to be right. In the case of the Eritrean and Ethiopian, it is clear that Ethiopia is the guilty party. Ethiopia is occupying Eritrean territory. What did the UN do? Nothing. In fact the UN is turning the table against Eritrea. Mr. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, makes the UN ineffective and a useless organization with his indecisions and biases.
This is the man on whose watch 800,000 Rewands, thousands of Sierra Leoneans, Liberians, Congolese, and Sudanese, died, because of his poor decision making. Most Africans had great hope for their continent when an African was elected to the highest post of the UN. But Kofi Annanís tenure has become Africaís nightmare. He single handedly made the UN irrelevant. In the case of Eritrea and Ethiopia, if the table was reversed, Mr. Annan by now would have asked the Security Council to sanction or even attack Eritrea. Ethiopia failed to implement the boundary commissionís decision. Mr. Annanís indecision and empty warning didnít solve anything. If Mr. Annan wants peace in the Horn of Africa the answer is simple: implement the decision of the boundary commission. In the last few years the UN has lost its respect and effectiveness. The only way to regain this is to respect the law.
Mr. Annan needs to make it clear that the Commissionís decision is final. If not as they say ďIf you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.Ē In the case of Mr. Anann throughout the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, he has not shown any courage to implement the decision of the commission. Therefore Mr. Anann is now part of the problem and canít be part of the solution. I believe that what Mr. Annan is saying is that in the future countries that make agreements through negotiations or court decisions donít have to a accept it, there he is ignoring the Commissionís decision which is binding between the two countries. If court decisions are not honored in the future it will lead to more conflicts.
I was really impressed with the remarks made recently by Mr. John Bolton, the US Ambassador to the UN, who said, ďWhich is more relevant to the peace process? The Ethiopian government rejection of the boundary Commission decision, which has been hampering the whole peace process or Eritrea banning of helicopter flight in the temporary security zone?Ē I agreed with Mr. Bolton in that if the UN did its job, the helicopter banning wonít have been an issue. It is clear Ethiopia is solely responsible for the peace and security problems in the horn of Africa.
Also Mr. Annanís remarks make me wonder if this man is really a diplomat. His remark regarding Eritrea is totally undiplomatic and down right shameful. ďYou know that our relationship with the Eritrean government has not been an easy one, and we are not the only organization or entity with difficult relation with that government,Ē Mr. Annan remarked. That kind of remark let alone from the head of the UN but a layman it should not be accepted. It is none of his business the relationship of Eritrea with other organization or entity. I guess the Prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, doesnít have to say anything because Kofi Annan is speaking on his behalf.
The UN history in Eritrea is one of the most unjust and cruel. Since the early 1950s the UN action in Eritrea had been faulty and callous and against the will of the Eritrean people. Eritrea was federated with Ethiopia a backward country at that time. Again in early 1960s, Emperor Haile Selassie annexed Eritrea and the UN did nothing. As history repeat itself again this time UN ignore the Eritrean people pleas. Therefore, if Eritrean doesnít trust the UN, it is for a good reason.
It is high time the UN implement the Eritrean and Ethiopian boundary commissionís decision without delay. Eritrea has been waiting for so long. It is time the Eritrean and Ethiopian people enjoy peace. The internally displaced people from both side need to go back to their homes. It has been seven years since the conflict. It is too long. It is high time to remove the buffer zone and let the Eritreans return to their land.
As a remainder the Yemen and Eritrean conflict in the 1990s was handled in a civilized way. Once the decision was rendered even though Eritrea lost some territory, but accepted the decision not because the decision was correct but for the sack of peace. Eritrea showed the world body that it is not above the law. That is real diplomacy but in the case of Ethiopia it was not. During arbitration you donít always win, but there is a chance you may also lose. That is the case of Ethiopia. During the peace treaty that ended the war, both sides agreed to accept a decision by the Eritrean and Ethiopian boundary commission as final and binding. Its has been two and half years, Ethiopia refused to accept the decision. The UN rather than pressuring Ethiopia to accept the judgment is now turning the heat on Eritrea. That is the history of UN towards Eritrea unjust and totally unacceptable. The real obstacle is The Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles, who refused to accept the decision of the boundary commission. If there is going to be peace in the Horn of Africa, Mr. Annan should put pressure on Ethiopia to accept the boundary commission decision. Also the European Union, U.S. and the African Union should discharge their responsibility in an honest and lawful way.
As for Eritrea this is temporarily set back it will weather it. The problem with Ethiopia will be resolve. Eritrea didnít fight for 30 years to relinquish its territory. Eritrean need to stay on courses and respect international law despite the international community not doing its job. At the end truth will prevail