The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle
By: Sophia Tesfamariam
October 26, 2004

I read the transcript of the 21 October 2004 press briefing held by the UNMEE Spokesperson and Chief of Public Information, Gail Bindley-Taylor-Sainte in Asmara and appreciated her candor. At least this UNMEE employee is calling a spade a spade and advocating for the rule of law is not trying to cover up for Ethiopia’s intransigence and defiance of the rule of law. When one of the participants at the 21 October 2004 press briefing asked the following question:

 “I have heard that in the Badme region Ethiopia is continually bringing more and more Ethiopian settlers in Badme. Do you confirm that and are you not worried by this because the Commission [EEBC] said that Badme is in Eritrea?”

 The Spokesperson responded by saying:

 “What I can say is that we are aware of what is happening in the Badme area. As you know long before you came here, this was an issue raised at the level of the Security Council and there was a recommendation made to the Ethiopian Government. What we have to wait to see is to what extent they will adhere to what has been said by the Security Council on this”

 When another participant further asked the spokesperson “when the Security Council recommendation was made to Ethiopia concerning Badme, the Spokesperson recalled and confirmed that:

 “Security Council resolution/1466 of 14 March 2003,  operative paragraph 10, “calls on the Parties to refrain from unilateral troop or population movements, including establishment of any new settlements in areas near the border until demarcation and orderly transfer of territorial control has been accomplished, in accordance with article 4.16 of the Comprehensive Peace agreement.”

 Thank you Ms. Gail Bindley-Taylor-Sainte for your factual and candid answer. I would however like to refresh everyone’s memory and call to attention the fact that the above Security Council resolution was not passed as a general guideline or as a means of deterrence. It is a product and result of Ethiopia’s continued violation of the Algiers Agreement, Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commission’s final and binding decision, its demarcation directives and previous Security Council resolutions.

 I would also like to remind UNMEE’s Spokesperson and all others that are following the developments of the Eritrea Ethiopia border final and binding verdict as closely as I am, that this very topic of Ethiopia’s new resettlements of Ethiopians on sovereign Eritrean territories have been raised at various UN Security meetings. The UN Security Council has passed numerous resolutions urging Ethiopia to refrain from such provocative and dangerous activities. For example, Resolution 1430 (2002) Adopted by the Security Council on 14 August 2002 called on the two parties:

 to refrain from unilateral troop or population movements, including establishment of any new settlements in areas near the border, until demarcation and orderly transfer of territorial control has been accomplished, in accordance with article 4.16 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement”

There may be some innocent or uninformed or misinformed individuals that may be wondering why the UN Security Council is constantly introducing and passing such resolutions. The reason is simple and straightforward, it is because the Tigrayan minority regime in Ethiopia, rejecting the letter and spirit of the Algiers Agreement and in violation of the Border Commissions demarcation directives and orders, is continuously and constantly defying the rule of law,  by resettling Tigrayans in sovereign Eritrean territories.

 In its 26 August 2002, 6th Report to the Security Council, the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) has clearly articulated the Ethiopian regimes’ provocative and defiant attitudes and actions. In this report the EEBC says:

 “ On 7 June, Eritrea requested that the Commission adopt an interim order instructing Ethiopia that it must immediately cease the settlement of its nationals into territory that had been determined by the decision of 13 April 2002 to fall within Eritrean sovereignty.

 Ethiopia filed a response on 14 June 2002. In order to ascertain the facts for itself, the Commission appointed a field investigation team, consisting of the Registrar, the Special Consultant, the Deputy Chief Surveyor and the deputy to the Secretary of the Commission, to visit the area and gather the necessary information. The team returned to The Hague and reported on 15 July 2002.

 A hearing was held with the parties on 16 July, following which the Commission issued an Order on 17 July, pursuant to article 20 and article 27 (1) of its rules of procedure, in which, although it rejected the Eritrean request for interim measures, the Commission found that any Ethiopian Government-sponsored resettlement of Ethiopian nationals in Dembe Mengul after 13 April 2002 should not have taken place and required Ethiopia to arrange for the return from there to Ethiopian territory of those persons who had gone there from Ethiopia pursuant to an Ethiopian resettlement programme since 13 April 2002.

 The Commission also required that each party should ensure that no further population resettlement take place across the delimitation line established by the decision of 13 April 2002”

Two years after the Eritrea Ethiopia border has been legally delimited and in spite of numerous UN resolutions urging Ethiopia to return its citizens to their Ethiopian villages, and to refrain from unilateral resettlement of its people, with a law of the jungle mentality and might is right attitude, the regime in Ethiopia is aggressively continuing its provocative and adventurous activities against the law abiding and peace loving people of Eritrea.

 The regime in Ethiopia neither has the capacity, nor the resources to pursue this provocative and dangerous road. It is doing so only because the world has not taken appropriate punitive actions against its belligerent, intransigent and lawless behavior.  As a matter of fact, under the cover of debt cancellation, budgetary support, combating famine and HIV-AIDs etc. etc. the international community is pampering the Tigrayan minority regime in Addis that is squandering Ethiopia’s human and material wealth. As an Eritrean American taxpayer, I would prefer that my money was instead utilized for the eradication of poverty in Eritrea and Ethiopia.

 The issue is no longer an issue of demarcation or resettlement of Ethiopians in Eritrea, but a very serious issue of occupation of a sovereign territory of one country by another neighboring country.

 Therefore, the UN Security Council under Article 14 of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities as well as Articles 41 and 42 of the UN Charter has the legal right and obligation to invoke Chapter 7 against Ethiopia which is violating the rule of law and threatening regional and international peace and security.  

 Article 14 of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities says:

“The OAU and the United Nations commit themselves to guarantee the respect for this commitment of the two Parties until the determination of the common border on the basis of pertinent colonial treaties and applicable international law…This guarantee shall be comprised of…measures to be taken by the international community should one or both of the Parties violate this commitment, including appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter by the UN Security Council;”

 And Article 41 of the UN Charter states:

“The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations”


And Article 42 of the UN Charter states: 

“Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations.”

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