Axworthy-There is no "crisis" that warrants your attention

By: Sophia Tesfamariam
February 25, 2004

"I am very disappointed. It is very important to talk to Eritrean officials. They have an important case to make, which I would have liked to hear about…My mission is based on an honest effort by the international community and the United Nations to try and be helpful, and facilitate a peaceful end to the crisis”- UN envoy Lloyd Axworthy speaking to reporters in the Ethiopian capital, February 23,2004 .

Mr. Axworthy, when you are party to a deceptive and illegal effort to thwart international law, don't expect Eritreans to applaud you or encourage you.

Eritrea does not have a case that needs to be made to Axworthy or any other body. Eritrea 's case was presented in full to the independent Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission at The Hague in 2001. The EEBC delivered its final and binding verdict on April 13, 2002 . The case is now closed and the only thing remaining is the implementation of the decision. What is missing is the expeditious demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border, a technical matter of placing markers on the ground, in accordance with the EEBC decision.

Abraham Lincoln is said to have posed the following question: “How many legs would a sheep have if you called its tail a leg? Four (4) explained Lincoln , because calling its tail a leg does not make it one. Just because the minority regime's leader called it a crisis, and UNSG Kofi Annan called it so, does not make it so. This flagrant violation of international law by the belligerent Prime Minister is not a “crisis”. The Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) has eloquently stated:

“…there is no “crisis”, terminal or otherwise, which cannot be cured by Ethiopia 's compliance with its obligation under the Algiers Agreement, in particular its obligations to treat the Commission's delimitation determination as “final and binding” (Article 4.15) and “to cooperate with the Commission, its experts and other staff in all respects during the process of ... demarcation” (Article 4.14)”

Contrary to what Mr. Kofi Annan continues to present in his reports to the UNSC, the present impasse is not a product of the absence of dialogue but rather, Ethiopia 's refusal to accept the final and binding EEBC decision and the continuous reluctance of the international community, including the UN, to implement its own resolutions and decisions

Speaking to reporters before leaving for Libya , Axworthy said:

"The African Union is a major player in the border crisis... Hopefully there may be a fresh voice and outside dynamics to help the process"

The AU is one of the key authors of the Algiers Agreement and has been involved from the very beginning. As one of the guarantors of the peace agreement, the AU has neglected its mandate. Article 14 of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement adapted and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council states :

"…the OAU and the UN commit themselves to guarantee the respect for this commitment of the parties. This guarantee shall be comprised of measures to be taken by the international community should one or both parties violate this commitment, including appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations by the Security Council".

For the Tigrayan minority regime to shamelessly and without legal basis claim, as well as physically occupy, sovereign Eritrean territories including Badme is a violation of Article 3 of the OAU Charter which affirms the inviolability of colonial boundaries. Melles Zenawi's refusal to abide by the OAU Charter, the EEBC decision and apartheid regime's continued occupation of undisputed Eritrean territory will open a Pandora's Box and create a cycle of instability in the region. The acceptance of Ethiopia's logic will not only affect all African States but will indeed backfire against Ethiopia itself, since its sovereignty over much of its territory, including on the Ogaden, is based on the same principles of international law.

I still maintain that this appointment is ill advised, illegal and will only lead to more suffering for the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea . UNSG Kofi Annan has compromised his own neutrality, integrity as well as that of the United Nations Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). It is important that the international community stops entertaining Melles' diversionary and scare tactics and instead takes all necessary appropriate measures. They must categorically reject Melles' blackmail, deception and scare tactics and invoke Chapter VII

Instead of appeasing the belligerent Melles Zenawi and rewarding his illegal activities, what is needed is not the deployment of a special envoy to resolve a non existent self made and self promoted “crisis”, but to adhere to the EEBC ruling and call for strict enforcement of UNSC resolutions, expeditious implementation of the EEBC's demarcation directives and orders, and effective appropriate punitive measures to be taken against the culprit, which is Melles Zenawi's genocidal apartheid regime in Ethiopia.

 The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!