The Security Council this afternoon demanded an immediate halt to all hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea, in the wake of a recent escalation in fighting over disputed border territory, and welcomed the acceptance today by Eritrea, of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Framework Agreement for settlement of the dispute.
Through a statement read out by its President, Robert R. Fowler (Canada), the Council recalled the prior acceptance of the Framework Agreement by Ethiopia, which it said remained a viable and sound basis for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The current dispute between the two countries, which have been separate States since 1993, centres on territory in the Tigray region on the western border of Eritrea near Badme. Fighting erupted in May 1998. The OAU Framework Agreement was approved by the Central Organ Summit of the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution on 17 December 1998.
Also by today's action, the Council reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and expressed its willingness to consider all appropriate support to implement a peace agreement between the two parties. Continuing support was also expressed by the Council for the efforts of the OAU, the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, Mohamed Sahnoun, and concerned Member States, to find a peaceful solution to the border dispute.
The meeting, which was called to order at 5:34 p.m., was adjourned at 5:37 p.m.
"The Security Council reaffirms its resolutions 1177 (1998) of 26 June 1998, 1226 (1999) of 29 January 1999 and 1227 (1999) of 10 February 1999 which called on Ethiopia and Eritrea to refrain from armed conflict and to accept and implement the Framework Agreement as approved by the Central Organ Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution on 17 December 1998 (S/1998/1223, annex).
"The Security Council demands an immediate halt to all hostilities and calls on the parties to refrain from the further use of force.
"The Security Council welcomes the acceptance by Eritrea at the Head of State level of the OAU Framework Agreement and recalls the prior acceptance of the Agreement by Ethiopia. The OAU Framework Agreement remains a viable and sound basis for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
"The Security Council reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
"The Security Council expresses its willingness to consider all appropriate support to implement a peace agreement between the two parties.
"The Security Council expresses its continuing support for the efforts of the OAU, the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy, Ambassador Sahnoun, and concerned Member States, to find a peaceful resolution to the border dispute.
"The Security Council remains actively seized of the matter."
Documents Before the Council
When the Security Council met to consider the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, it had before it a letter from the President of Eritrea, Isaias Afwerki, to the Council President (document S/1999/215) which concerned Eritrea's acceptance of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Framework Agreement.
The Council also had before it a copy of a report (S/1998/1223, annex) covering the efforts made by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) High- level Delegation on the Dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, submitted to the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Central Organ of the OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, held at the summit level at Ouagadougou on 17 and 18 December 1998. The report was transmitted to the Council by a letter dated 24 December from the Permanent Representative of Ethiopia and it contains the recommendations made by the Delegation for the Framework Agreement.
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In his letter to the Council, the President of Eritrea recalls his Government's positive consideration of the OAU Framework Agreement. Nonetheless, he says, it had harboured reservations on certain aspects, for which it had earnestly sought clarification. Those two issues concerned the geographical location of "Badme and its environs", and the administration of Badme.
He goes on to say that while his Government was in the process of "ironing out" those issues, the Ethiopian Government had violated the Framework Agreement, as well as Security Council resolutions 1226 of 29 January, and 1227 of 10 February, to launch a war of aggression against Eritrea on 6 February. That Government now occupied by force Eritrean sovereign territory, and its war of aggression had created a new situation superseding the prevailing reality.
His Government strongly rejects the attempts by Ethiopia, before and now, to impose a solution through the use of force, he states. Nonetheless, the Government of Eritrea accepts the OAU Framework Agreement to pave the way for an expedited demarcation. Under those circumstances, the Eritrean President calls upon the Security Council to: condemn Ethiopia's territorial ambitions and aggression against Eritrea; ensure the implementation of Security Council resolutions; and ensure that observers are sent to verify facts on the ground and facilitate demarcation.
The report of the OAU High-Level Delegation states that the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea was one of the issues dealt with by the OAU Central Organ of the OAU Mechanism at its fourth session. The Central Organ considered the report of the OAU High-level Delegation and on 17 December approved the proposed Framework Agreement. To that end, the Central Organ called upon the two parties to continue to cooperate with the Delegation to create the necessary conditions for a speedy implementation of the agreement.
As described by the report, under the terms of the proposed Framework Agreement the two parties would commit themselves to an immediate cessation of hostilities and commit themselves to ending any action and any form of expression likely to perpetrate or exacerbate the climate of hostility and tension between them.
Also by the proposed Agreement, the armed forces presently in Badme Town and its environs would be redeployed to the positions they held before 6 May 1998, as a mark of goodwill and consideration for the OAU. It would also be understood that the proposed redeployment would not prejudge the final status of the area concerned, which would be determined at the end of the delimitation and demarcation of the border and, if necessary, through an appropriate mechanism of arbitration.
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Further, the proposed Agreement states that the redeployment will be supervised by a group of military observers deployed by the OAU with United Nations support. The redeployment will be subsequently extended to all other contested areas along the common border within the framework of demilitarization. In addition, once the entire border had been delimited and demarcated, the legitimate authority will immediately exercise full and sovereign jurisdiction over the territory which will have been recognized as belonging to them.
In addition, the Agreement states that, in order to determine the origins of the conflict, an investigation be carried out on the incidents of 6 May 1998, and on any other incident prior to that date which could have contributed to misunderstanding between the two parties regarding their common border.
In order to determine the modalities for the implementation of the Framework Agreement, it is also recommended that a follow-up committee of the two parties be established under the auspices of the OAU High-Level Delegation, with the active participation and assistance of the United Nations. The Agreement also recommends that the OAU and the United Nations, working closely with the international community, particularly the European Union, endeavour to mobilize resources for the resettlement of displaced persons and the demobilization of troops currently deployed along the border of both countries. It is also proposed that the OAU, in close cooperation with the United Nations, will be the guarantor of the scrupulous implementation of all the provisions of the Framework Agreement, in the shortest possible time.
Also annexed to the report are: a press release issued by the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 4 August 1998 talks between the Ethiopian and Eritrean sides and the OAU on the report of the Fact Finding Committee of Ambassadors constituted by the OAU High-level Delegation to help resolve the crisis between the two countries (appendix I); a press release issued by the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 5 August 1998 on the recommendations of the OAU Committee convened in Ouagadougou from 1 to 2 August 1998 (see appendix II).
Also annexed to the report are: a press release from the Office of the Spokesperson of the Government of Ethiopia on the OAU Ministerial Committee which met from 7 to 8 November 1998 to present a peace proposal to both Ethiopia and Eritrea (appendix III); a press release dated 9 November 1998 from the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the meeting of the OAU Committee of Heads of States which met from 7 to 8 May 1998 (appendix IV); and a letter dated 12 November from Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, to the Chairman of the OAU and President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, on clarifications and acceptance of the proposed OAU peace proposal (appendix V).
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