UNSG Kofi Annan-Will he call a Spade a Spade-For Peace Sakes?
By: Sophia Tesfamariam
December 7, 2003

In a matter of days, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UNSG), Mr. Kofi Annan will present the progress report on Eritrea and Ethiopia to the UN Security Council (UNSC). In that report he will detail all that has transpired since his last report to the UNSC in September of 2003. A lot has happened since. What UNSG Kofi Annan will report to UNSC is not a matter of guesswork; the Secretary General has a mandate to fulfill. The people of Eritrea expect him to abide by the Algiers Peace Agreement, of which he is a signatory/guarantor, and to fulfill his mandate and report on the status of the peace process without prevarication.

The Secretary General cannot be unduly influenced by the endless and childish, not to mention arrogant, demands coming from the apartheid regime in Ethiopia. If he is, he will greatly undermine the UN, its functions and he will greatly reduce Eritrea’s confidence in this world body to resolve this and/or any other issues fairly and equitably in the future.

According to the UN, “as international civil servants, staff members and the Secretary-General answer to the United Nations alone for their activities, and take an oath not to seek or receive instructions from any Government or outside authority. Under the Charter, each Member State undertakes to respect the exclusively international character of the responsibilities of the Secretary-General and the staff and to refrain from seeking to influence them improperly in the discharge of their duties.”

The fact that the United Nations, while headquartered in New York, still maintains a significant presence in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia should not interfere with its international role. Allowing the minority regime in Ethiopia to arrogantly make demands in violation of international law will bring to question the neutrality, efficacy and credibility of the UN system. The Secretary General should not allow Melles Zenawi and his apartheid regime to make illegal demands and hold peace in the Horn region hostage.

The Secretary General reported on September 4, 2003 that:

“…the Boundary Commission, in an addendum to its ninth report, issued a schedule of the order of activities ahead. The first item on that schedule was the appointment of field liaison officers for the remaining demarcation activities. Eritrea has now made these appointments and Ethiopia should do the same without delay. In addition, the schedule called for the commencement late in August of the factual survey of the Tserona and Zalambessa areas as well as the field assessment of pillar sites in Sectors West and Centre. In the absence of Ethiopian field liaison officers, as well as in view of the fact that the Commission’s field offices are still awaiting the necessary security assurances from the parties, it has not been possible for the Commission to commence the field surveys…”

And this:

“Another crucial test of the parties’ commitment to the process will come in October, when pillar emplacement is scheduled to begin in Sector East. The importance of the parties’ doing everything to enable the Commission to maintain its timetable cannot be overemphasized. I call on the two Governments to provide full cooperation to the Commission and its field offices so that the border can be demarcated as soon as possible.”

It is amply clear to everyone in the international community, including the Secretary General, that Ethiopia has failed that “crucial test”. The apartheid regime in Ethiopia is not committed to the peace process and the Secretary General cannot be unaware of Ethiopia’s continued belligerence. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister has since rejected the final and binding EEBC decision, called the Border Commission “null and void”, and is now seeking an alternate mechanism to reverse the final and binding decision by calling for “dialogue”.

In the September 19th, 2003 letter from Melles Zenawi to UNSC and Mr. Kofi Annan, through its media and illicit diplomatic campaigns since, the minority regime in Ethiopia has tried to influence the decisions of the Secretary General and the UN Security Council. The UN Security Council responded to his threatening and insulting letter on October 3rd 2003, by saying:

“…that the members of the Security Council steadfastly support the completion of the peace process and the full and expeditious implementation of the Algiers Agreement. The Security Council is clear that the framework for establishing a lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was agreed by both parties in Algiers in 2000. Only the full implementation of the Algiers Agreements will lead to sustainable peace”

I expect the UNSG to re-iterate what the UNSC said in its response to the Ethiopian Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Anything less would only embolden the apartheid regime in Addis to violate international law, commit untold crimes against humanity, and threaten to once again use innocent Ethiopians as minesweepers and cannon fodder in its expansionist war. The minority regime in Ethiopia even had the audacity to state through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs on October 15th, 2003 that:

“…There is no use for Eritrea to continue wishing that the Security Council would impose sanctions on Ethiopia and waiting for the prospect of drawing vicarious satisfaction from that. That is unlikely to happen. Not because Eritrea is not big enough to have its way, but because the idea is too crazy and too unrealistic…”

The decision of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) is final and binding. If Ethiopia refuses to abide by the decision and continues to hamper demarcation proceedings, the Secretary General has no choice but to strongly recommend that the UN Security Council invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. He has enough evidence to show that Ethiopia is the sole belligerent party. In addition to the public statements made by the minority regime in Ethiopia, and the parliamentary speech of the minority regime leader in Addis, the Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission in its report about the November 19th meeting with the two parties, has clearly identified Ethiopia as the non-compliant party.

In an article posted in the Los Angeles times on December 4, 2003 UN Secretary General said:

“We have come to a decisive moment in history… in a world that has become "unipolar," what role should the United Nations play… the common ground we used to stand on no longer seems solid.. We need to consider whether the United Nations itself is well suited to the challenges ahead… the importance and, indeed, the relevance of the institution have in some quarters been called into question

In the LA Times article, the UNSG said that he had appointed a panel chaired by former Prime Minister Anand Panyarachun of Thailand, to examine the future of the UN to see if the UN can:

"Take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace," which is one of its purposes, as defined in Article I of its charter?”

Peace is being held hostage by the belligerent regime in Ethiopia and how the UNSG responds to this lawlessness will determine whether or not the UN has the ability to prevent and remove this threat to peace. The Algiers Agreement spells out clearly what must be done by the UN Security Council if any of the two parties refuse to comply. Article 14 of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement 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".

As the saying goes “every bull gets in the barn in its own way”, we cannot say how and when the minority regime in Ethiopia will abide by the decision and vacate from sovereign Eritrean territories including Badme, but one thing is for sure, it will. The Eritrea Ethiopia border conflict has been resolved legally. Eritrea has accepted the final and binding decision and is patiently waiting to have the borders demarcated. Eritrea is not occupying any sovereign Ethiopian territories; on the other hand, Ethiopia is still occupying sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme.

The minority regime in Ethiopia has been, and remains, in material breach of several UNSC resolutions, bringing to question their efficacy and seriousness. The UNSG must recommend that the UNSC act now so demarcation can begin without further delay. Lasting peace can only come if the minority regime in Ethiopia abides by international law and the entire border has been demarcated in accordance with the final and binding EEBC decision, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council.

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