Ethiopia Urged to Unconditionally Allow Expeditious Demarcation of the Border
By: Sophia Tesfamariam
March 24, 2005

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry recently posted on 15 March 2005 on its Website what it calls "Response to the 16th Report of the EEBC, dated 24 February 2005", trying once again attempting to reverse, revise, and amend the Final and Binding decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission (EEBC) of 13 April 2002.

In its latest arrogant, deceptive, redundant and irresponsible statement, the Foreign Ministry under the instruction of the Tigrayan Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin once again attempts to hoodwink the people of Ethiopia and the world in general, by re-writing the Algiers Agreement and providing its own interpretations of the EEBC's Final and Binding decision, the EEBC's mandate, as well as the EEBC's demarcation directives and instructions. This defiant attitude and approach by the minority regime in Ethiopia is nothing more than a time buying gimmick that will allow the Tigrayan clique to continue its war of aggression and expansion against Eritrea and the countries of the region.

For those of us who have been following the developments on the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue, the latest Ethiopian Foreign Ministry's "Response" to the 16th Report of the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission is not only childish and laughable, but a manifestation of the defiant, stubborn attitude and old gimmick of the minority regime in Ethiopia. There is nothing new in the latest "Response", but more of the same old tactic of trying to amend, change, and re-visit the EEBC's Final and Binding decision of 13 April 2002.

I am sure that Meles and his Tigrayan minority clique know that the EEBC decision which is a product of the Algiers Agreement that was signed in 2000 in Algeria by H.E. President Isaias Afwerki for Eritrea and by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for Ethiopia and witnessed and guaranteed by Secretary General Kofi Annan representing the United Nations, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of the Democratic Republic of Algeria, President Obasanjo of Nigeria, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright representing the United States, Secretary General, Salim Ahmed Salim representing the OAU, and Senator Renato Serri representing the European Union, is a decision which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council and cannot be amended, changed or appealed; it is Final and Binding.

It is the reluctant attitude of the international community to enforce its own resolutions and decisions by taking appropriate punitive measures against the belligerent party, that has encouraged the minority regime in Ethiopia to continue with its "what the heck" and "why don't I try" attitude, as well as to continue hurling insults at the distinguished and qualified Commissioners.

The 16th Report of the EEBC annexed to the Secretary General's report clearly and without ambiguity exposes the obstructionist actions, defiant attitude and childish maneuvers of the minority regime in Ethiopia, as well as its lies and deceptive delay tactics. The distinguished Commissioners are serving the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea fairly and justly. The Commissioners who are better qualified to interpret the legal decision and procedures than highly paid lawyers and lobbyists deployed by the ignominious Tigrayan clique, never sided with Ethiopia, or with Eritrea, they are on the side of justice and the rule of law. Despite the minority regime's insulting and defiant attitude towards them, this distinguished Commissioner's, through their honest work, have managed to maintain the integrity of the Final and Binding 13 April 2002 decision and the peace process on the whole. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the Tigrayan clique's gimmicks and defiant character, this 15 March 2005 "Response" to the EEBC is just a continuation of this cliques "... attempt to reopen the substance of the April Decision notwithstanding Ethiopia's repeated statements, made both before and since, of its acceptance of the Decision... The main thrust of the Ethiopian comments is that the boundary should be varied so as to take better account of human and physical geography. They are similar to those advanced by Ethiopia in discussions with the Commission in the period since the April Decision..."

The EEBC in its 16th Report to the UN Security Council clearly expressed the minority regime in Ethiopia's belligerent and obstructionist behavior. As we all know, all previous attempts to revise, revisit, and amend the Final and Binding decision have been categorically rejected by the EEBC.

In order to allow the reader to make his /her own judgments and observations, I would like to highlight previous incessant and stubborn attempts by the TPLF regime to revisit, amend, appeal, and revise the Final and Binding EEBC decsion.

I.      Ethiopia's Attempt: On 13 May 2002 barely a month after the EEBC delivered the 13 April 2002 Final and Binding decision, the Commission received from the Government of Ethiopia the 21-page submission entitled "Request for Interpretation, Correction and Consultation". Even though this document was filled with similar and repetitive hollow legal arguments that were previously presented by the multi million dollar Ethiopian legal team to the Commission before the 13 April 2002 decision was delivered, it clearly was the first attempt by the minority regime in Ethiopia to amend, revise, appeal and re-visit the Final and Binding decision of the EEBC.

The EEBC's Response: The response to Ethiopia's request by the prominent and distinguished Commissioners who are much more savvy and qualified to interpret the spirit and letter of the Algiers Agreement than the Tigrayan clique and their expensive legal team was simple and straightforward. In their crispy 4-page response of 24 June 2002, they said:

II.      Ethiopia's Attempt: Encouraged by the reluctance of the international community to enforce the Security Council endorsed Final and Binding EEBC decision the Tigrayan clique and its highly paid lawyers and lobbyists continued their attempt to amend, revisit, change the decision:

        On 24 January 2003 the minority regime distributed to the public and submitted to the EEBC the incoherent and legally hollow 141 page document under the title  "Comments filed by Ethiopia"

        Upon the suggestions of its multi million dollar legal team for additional material, on 1 May 2003 the minority regime presented another 36-page legally hollow document under the title "Comment to the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission".

EEBC's Response: Responding to Ethiopia's redundant and defiant attempts to change the decision, the Commission issued what is now known as the "21 March 2003 Observations". This 13-page report of the Commission is a clear and refined legal response to the minority clique's hollow and repetitive above documents. In its March Observations the Commission said:

III.      Ethiopia's Attempt: Unable to intimidate and wear out the distinguished and internationally respected Commissioners with constant barrages of legal documents, insisting on pressing on with his fruitless attempts to revise, appeal, amend and change the Final and Binding EEBC decision, the street smart, flip-flopping Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, upon the advise of his expensive legal team and lobbyists resorted to insulting the international community's intelligence. Using diversionary tactics and requesting "alternative mechanism" and "dialogue", the leader of the minority regime in Ethiopia on September 19, 2003 in his condescending and insulting letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan officially rejected the Final and Binding decision. In his letter Meles said:

EEBC's Response: Again the EEBC responded through its 7 October 2003 letter sent to UNSG Kofi Annan, President Alpha Konare of the AU, H.E. Ali Said Abdella, the Foreign Minister of the Eritrea and also to the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, clearly rejecting Meles Zenawi's redundant, repetitive, insulting and defiant letters, submissions and memorandums. In its 7 October 2003 "Statement in response to the Ethiopian Prime Minister's letter", the Commission eloquently said:

        "... The Boundary Commission has received a copy of the letter of 19 September 2003 from the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. It is a cause of considerable disquiet to the Commission which, in consequence, deems it necessary to offer a number of observations upon some of the statements made in it that directly related to the work of the Boundary Commission and which, to our regret, are misconceived and misleading..."

        "... the Prime Minister's letter states that the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea is facing a challenge Ethiopia characterizes the situation as being one in which "the work of the Commission is in terminal crisis". The Commission does not accept that assessment: 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)"

        "... The letter states that the "Colonial treaties which are the basis of the Algiers Agreement and which should have been the key basis for the delimitation and demarcation of the boundary leave Badme well inside Ethiopia" ... Ethiopia argued in the proceedings before the Commission for an interpretation of the Treaty which would have resulted in a much different boundary, far to the northwest, which would have had the effect of placing Badme well within Ethiopia, but the argument for Ethiopia's line was considered carefully by the Commission and rejected..."

        "... The Ethiopian letter goes on to say that "This [i.e. Badme being left well inside of Ethiopia by the colonial treaties] was also the Commission's own interpretation of the relevant Treaty". This is a misrepresentation of the Commission's reasoning. The only interpretation of the relevant treaty which can be regarded as the Commission's "own interpretation", in accordance with applicable international law, is that which is set out in its Delimitation Decision of April 2002..."

        "... The Parties have long been aware that the result of the Commission's delimitation and consequent demarcation could be that the boundary could run through and divide some settlements (see paragraph 3 of the Commission's Observations of 21 March 2003)..."

        "... Ethiopia maintains in the fifth paragraph of its letter that "only the Security Council can salvage the peace process", and that "the Boundary Commission has itself acknowledged the responsibility of the United Nations, in accordance with the Algiers Agreement, to assist the two parties to overcome challenges they might face in the process of the delimitation and demarcation". The Commission recalls that article 4.16 of the Algiers Agreement is in the following specific terms: "Recognizing that the results of the delimitation and demarcation process are not yet known, the parties request the United Nations to facilitate resolution of problems which may arise due to the transfer of territorial control, including the consequences for individuals residing in previously disputed territory". It is accordingly clear that Ethiopia's construction of the Algiers Agreement and of what the Commission has stated in respect of it is misconceived..."

        "... Ethiopia's statement is a repudiation of its repeated acceptance of the Commission's Decision since it was rendered..."

        "... Ethiopia proposes that "an alternative mechanism to demarcate the contested parts of the boundary" be set up. Such an alternative mechanism would involve a departure from, and thus an amendment to, the terms of Article 4.2 of the Algiers Agreement, which gives the Commission the mandate to demarcate the boundary. Moreover, Ethiopia's reference to "the contested boundary" can only be understood as a reference to those parts of the boundary to which it alone and unilaterally takes exception: no part of the boundary is "contested" by both Parties..."

IV.      Ethiopia's Attempt:  As if its redundant , repetitive, hollow statements, interviews and analysis were not enough, the minority regime in Ethiopia with the help of its expatriate "experts", "analysts", "advisors" and using American and European taxpayers' funds, produced a Video/DVD show entitled "Borders are About People". This staged sensational, distorted, propaganda ploy designed to garner sympathy from the international community, was widely distributed to the diplomatic community and the Western press. This deceptive and hypocritical regime in Ethiopia, which is currently conducting an internationally financed 2-million people resettlement program throughout Ethiopia, by presenting this Video/DVD show, was shamelessly trying to show that demarcation in accordance with the EEBC decision would bring suffering and dislocation of people. That deceptive propaganda ploy also failed. This video further illustrates yet another gimmick used by the regime to revise, amend and reverse the Final and Binding decision.

EEBC's response: Even though there may have been some that were entertained by the Video/DVD show and some that may have been taken for a ride, the Commissioners, who had scrupulously adhered to its mandate, maintained its professional integrity by completely ignoring Ethiopia's Video/DVD show. Article 4.2 of the Algiers Agreement says that "The Commission shall not have the power to make decisions ex aequo et bono".

V.      Ethiopia's Attempt: On 24 November 2004, while continuing to militarily occupy sovereign Eritrean territories, the minority regime's advisors and lobbyists came up with another time-buying political and diplomatic gimmick. Meles Zenawi latest gimmick was baptized "The New Ethio-Eritrean Peace Initiative", and became known as the 5-Point Peace Proposal (5PPP). This dead on arrival (DoA) declaration is another futile attempt to present himself and his minority regime as law abiding, peace loving, and dialogue-seeking bunch. His sugarcoated "Proposal" turned out to be nothing but another deceptive attempt to revise, revisit, amend and appeal the Final and Binding decision of the EEBC.

EEBC's Response: Legally and morally compelled to respond to the minority regime's incessant calls for revision, amendment, and outright reversal of the EEBC's Final and Binding decision, re-iterating the Final and Binding status of the decision, the Commission in its 16 Report to the United Nations Security Council said:

I hope by highlighting the minority regime's redundant and repetitive attitude I have refreshed the readers' memory and illustrated how the regime in Ethiopia has defied international law, challenged the reputation, integrity and credibility of the renowned Commissioners, has stubbornly and "arrogantly" tried to appeal, amend, revisit, and revise the Final and Binding decision of the EEBC. The minority regime's contemptible behavior is shameful and a source of continued embarrassment to Africans in general, but in particular to the people of Ethiopia who are judged by the caliber of their leadership.

Faced with this defiant and condescending attitude, the world-renowned individuals have no choice but to respond to the minority regime's erroneous arguments and accusations.  From what I have read so far, the Commissioners have shown great patience and restraint despite Ethiopia's continuous and incessant harassment and insults for the last 2 years and have not taken any actions that could be considered inappropriate and outside of their mandate. Despite Ethiopia's provocations and insults, the EEBC has conducted itself with utmost integrity and honesty, and its patience is indeed commendable.

Unfortunately, the international community's inaction, the Security Council's reluctance to take appropriate punitive measures by invoking Chapter VII as called for in the Algiers Agreement, and the continued financial and other support given to the regime by its babysitters and handlers, has emboldened the minority regime to continue to attack and insult these distinguished honorable world renowned Commissioners with impunity.

Nevertheless, no matter how many other attempts the flip flopping minority regime cooks up in the future, the decision will remain intact, it will remain Final and Binding.  Demarcation or not, markers or not, the Eritrea Ethiopia border has been legally delineated and nothing will change that. That is why the latest UN Security Council resolution of 14 March 2005 called 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".  

Succumbing to the minority regime's gimmicks and appeasing Ethiopia by asking for dialogue under the guise of "normalization of relations" and "confidence building", and condoning Ethiopia's illegal acts and accepting its pre-conditions to an already agreed upon demarcation directives and procedures, is illegal and a shameful abrogation of the rule of law, and a recipe for disaster. After issuing over 15 resolutions and statements on the Eritrea Ethiopia border issue, what is needed is not more resolutions, declarations, and calls, but rather the UN Security Council must take swift punitive actions against the culprit and use appropriate enforcement mechanisms. Those countries with the resources and capacity to act must avoid a repeat of Rwanda and Darfur in the Horn of Africa. "Never Again" should not remain an empty slogan-they must act and not wait for the CNN effect.

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