Press Release: Respect for and Implementation of the Boundary Commission's decision - only way forward!

In its meeting of Monday, 14 March, 2005, the UN Security Council (UNSC) passed what is known as Resolution 1586, extending the mandate of the UN Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) until 15 September, 2005. Although in line with the timetable drawn up by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) the border demarcation should have been completed by November 2003, the UN mission had since been extended for the fourth time by 24 months.

In its latest meeting, the UNSC noted that although the Government of Ethiopia has declared in its five point proposal that it accepts in principle the EEBC's decision, nonetheless it "expressed concern regarding the recent high concentration of Ethiopian troops in the areas adjacent to the TSZ" near the border. Apart from this, the Government of Ethiopia, in order to create facts on the ground, and rejecting the UN Security Council Resolution 1430 which was passed on 14 August 2002, has officially declared that it is continuing to build new settlements in sovereign Eritrean territory. Furthermore, the UNSC "expressing concern about Ethiopia's ongoing rejection of significant parts of the Boundary Commission's decision, and its current lack of cooperation with the Commission, including the refusal to participate in the [London] meeting of 22 February 2005," has implied that the TPLF regime's agenda of dialog in itself is an extension of its trap of endless cycle. Thus, the UNSC has called on the Addis Ababa regime to fully accept the EEBC's decision "without preconditions to start the implementation of demarcation, by taking the necessary steps to enable the Commission to demarcate the border completely and promptly."

Moreover, the UNSC also expressed serious concern with the Boundary Commission's decision to take immediate steps to close down its field offices at the end of last month due to the lack of progress in the demarcation of the border as a result of Ethiopia's insistence on preconditions on demarcation. Having detailed these naked violations of international law, however, the UNSC, in its usual modus operandi of lumping the culprit and law-abider in the same basket, and issuing its tepid call "on both parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate", has really not passed a meaningful resolution that will remove the continuous obstacles that Ethiopia is posing in its contemptuous violations of the supremacy of international law and principles.

As the report by UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and especially the EEBC's report to the Security Council amply demonstrate:

1. The Ethiopian government has violated the Algiers Peace Agreements following its rejection of the final and binding ruling of the Boundary Commission;

2. Since Ethiopian settlements on sovereign Eritrean territory after the announcement of the EEBC ruling represent illegal acts, it was decided that such settlements should be demolished and consequently Ethiopia was to present a report on the matter to the Boundary Commission. However, despite the call made by the Security Council, during its meeting on 14 August 2004 through Resolution 1430, demanding there should be no movement of people and new settlements pending the transfer of territory, to-date it has been proven that Ethiopia had not only failed to abide by the UNSC resolution but also continues to build new infrastructure on sovereign Eritrean territory which it occupies. Obviously the Security Council should not have overlooked these acts by one state that constitute the occupation of sovereign territory of another state.

3. Sovereign Eritrean territory remains under occupation to this very moment, in spite of the fact that Ethiopia should have withdrawn from confirmed Eritrean territory, in line with the EEBC ruling of 13 April 2002.

Hence, the UN Security Council is duty-bound to adopt deterrent measures, for such open violation of fundamental principles and Charter of the Untied Nations.

The Addis Ababa regime was able to trample on the supremacy of international law and principles, obstructing the implementation of international decision for almost three years, thereby plunging the peace and stability of our region into an extremely dangerous situation, only because the UN and the other guarantors of the Algiers Peace Agreements have neglected the mandate and responsibility that the Algiers Peace Agreements confer upon them and have, through their double-standards, exposed the civilized and legal norms of the international community towards utter disrespect.

Having gone the extra mile until the journey of the peace process is exhausted, and as the message sent by the Government of Eritrea in January 2005 to the leaders of the USA and various European countries has clarified, if the international community chooses to stay far away from fulfilling its obligation, Eritrea will be forced to seek other appropriate options to safeguard its national security and sovereignty in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter. Before Eritrea embarks upon this undesirable option, however, the UN and the Security Council, as well as other guarantors of the Algiers Agreements must fulfill their obligations by enforcing:

- The respect of the international Algiers Peace Agreements;
- Full respect for the Boundary Commission's decision of April 13, 2002;
- Withdrawal of Ethiopia's occupation forces from sovereign Eritrean territory, and
- The immediate implementation of the border demarcation without any preconditions.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
16 March 2005
Asmara, Eritrea