Congressman urges colleagues to support border bill
By: OEA (Organization of Eritrean Americans)

Monday, June 28, 2004

Congressman urges colleagues to support border bill

A U.S. congressman has urged his colleagues to support a House legislation that calls for an immediate and unconditional implementation of the Eritrean-Ethiopian boundary ruling by an independent international commission. The pending legislation, HR. 2760, introduced a year ago by Congressmen Tom Lantos and Donald Payne, awaits action by the House International Relations Committee. It was unanimously approved by its Subcommittee on Africa in October 2003.

New York Congressman Gregory Meeks, in a 'dear colleague' letter released late this week, warned that failure to follow through on the Algiers Accord [between Eritrea and Ethiopia] jeopardizes adherence to the rule of law in other long-standing border disputes, some of which have been settled but could be renewed if one or another party modeled what is currently taking place in the Eritrea-Ethiopia boundary dispute and failed to comply with the decision of the Boundary Commission and attempts by the international community to mitigate the stalemate.

The U.S. Congress should be at the forefront of respect for the law, even international law, in the interests of peace, stability and justice, he said. Earlier this year, the U.S. State Department said that the Algiers agreement must be accepted without qualification? and the Boundary Commission ruling must be accepted as final and binding.

The April 13, 2002, ruling by the Eritrean-Ethiopian Boundary Commission has not been implemented because of the Ethiopian regime's refusal to accept the decision unconditionally and the international community's failure to carry out its responsibilities in enforcing it. Both nations had agreed for the decision to be final and binding. While the Eritrean government has from the outset submitted to the rulings of the Eritrean-Ethiopian Boundary Commission, Ethiopia has pushed for increased dialogue on the commission's decision, resulting in a stalemate and setting a dangerous precedent, the Congressman said. Failure to implement the law has implications for ?border disputes between Qatar and Bahrain, Nigeria and Cameroon, and even Eritrea and Yemen, some of which have been settled, he said.

Congressman Meeks also noted that failure to enforce the Eritrean-Ethiopian ruling ?can do little but disrupt the efforts of the United States to implement the East African Counter-Terrorism Initiative (which also includes Djibouti, Kenya, and Uganda, key U.S. partners in the region).

The legislation (H.R. 2760) calls for ?sanctions that can be invoked against either country for violating? the Algiers Agreement.

The Organization of Eritrean Americans (OEA), a non-profit, grassroots organization, also urges the U.S. Congress and the rest of the international community, which guaranteed the implementation of the Algiers Accord, to stop Ethiopia's lawlessness and ensure the demarcation of the Eritrean-Ethiopian boundary. Failure to do so can have serious implications for peace and stability in the volatile region of the Horn of Africa and other parts of the world.