12 May 2000


Press Release
SC/6861



IN UNANIMOUS RESOLUTION, COUNCIL DEMANDS IMMEDIATE END TO ERITREAN-ETHIOPIAN HOSTILITIES

20000512

Decides To Meet Again ‘Within 72 Hours’ To Ensure Compliance, if Hostilities Continue

Stressing that renewed hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea constituted a threat to peace and security and an even greater threat to the stability, security and economic development of the subregion, the Security Council tonight demanded that the two countries immediately cease all military actions and refrain from further use of force.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1297 (2000), the Council resolved to meet again within 72 hours, to take immediate steps to ensure compliance with the resolution in the event that hostilities continued.

The Council strongly condemned the renewed fighting and demanded the earliest possible reconvening, without preconditions, of substantive peace talks under Organization of African Unity (OAU) auspices and on the basis of the OAU’s Framework Agreement and the modalities it endorsed. It reaffirmed its full support for the continuing efforts of the OAU, of Algeria, its current Chairman, and of other concerned parties to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The Council called upon the parties to ensure the safety of civilian populations and to fully respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General was asked to keep the Council fully and regularly informed on the situation.

The meeting, which began at 9 p.m., was adjourned at 9:02 p.m.

Resolution

The full text of the resolution is, as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Recalling its resolutions 1177 (1998) of 26 June 1998, 1226 (1999) of 29 January 1999 and 1227 (1999) of 10 February 1999,

"Deeply disturbed by the outbreak of renewed fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia, "Stressing the need for both parties to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict,

"Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Eritrea and Ethiopia,

"Expressing its strong support for the efforts of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict,

"Welcoming the efforts of its Mission to the region and its report of 11 May 2000 (S/2000/413),

"Convinced of the need for further and immediate diplomatic efforts,

"Noting with concern that the renewed fighting has serious humanitarian implications for the civilian population of the two countries,

"Stressing that the situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia constitutes a threat to peace and security,

"Stressing also that renewed hostilities constitute an even greater threat to the stability, security and economic development of the subregion,

"1. Strongly condemns the renewed fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia;

"2. Demands that both parties immediately cease all military action and refrain from the further use of force;

"3. Demands the earliest possible reconvening, without preconditions, of substantive peace talks, under OAU auspices, on the basis of the Framework Agreement and the Modalities and of the work conducted by the OAU as recorded in its Communiqu( issued by its current Chairman of 5 May 2000 (S/2000/394);

"4. Resolves to meet again within 72 hours of the adoption of this resolution to take immediate steps to ensure compliance with this resolution in the event that hostilities continue;

"5. Reaffirms its full support for the continuing efforts of the OAU, of Algeria its current Chairman, and of other interested parties to achieve a peaceful resolution of the conflict;

"6. Endorses the Framework Agreement and the Modalities as the basis for the peaceful resolution of the dispute between the two parties;

"7. Endorses also the 5 May 2000 Communiqu( issued by the current Chairman of the OAU, which records the achievements of the OAU-led negotiations up to that point, including the areas of convergence already established between the two parties;

"8. Calls on both parties to ensure the safety of civilian populations and fully to respect human rights and international humanitarian law;

"9. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council fully and regularly informed on the situation;

"10. Decides to remain seized of the matter."

Report of Council Mission

As it met to consider the situation in Eritrea-Ethiopia, the Council had before it the report of its seven-man special mission, which had visited Addis Ababa and Asmara on 8 and 9 May, respectively. The mission held talks with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia on 8 May, and on the following day met with President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea.

In its report (document S/2000/413), the special mission said the differences between the two sides, while real, were relatively small and manageable and could be resolved by intensive negotiations over time. Nevertheless, it said they were on the verge of resuming a senseless war over those differences.

“The war, which could resume at any time, would not only cause enormous numbers of casualties on both sides, but would greatly add to deaths from famine, as the war would divert much-needed transportation from famine relief”, the report said.

“Meanwhile, Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of stringing out negotiations to avoid redressing its offensive of May 1998; Eritrea accuses Ethiopia of actively holding to the option of resuming the conflict while negotiations continue”, it said.

The mission had, therefore, concentrated on creating a mechanism to get past that blockage without going inside the “box” of the details of the OAU negotiations. The renewal of the conflict would be such a catastrophic step in the circumstances of the two nations that the mission felt there had to be strong motives for avoiding it.

The report said the mechanism eventually agreed upon took the form of a draft Security Council resolution calling for proximity talks to resume at the invitation of the OAU. The OAU had been consulted, and had agreed.

The special mission said that at the time of finalization of its report, it did not know whether the Security Council would adopt a resolution, whether the parties would both decide to resume early discussions, or whether renewed conflict could be avoided. Members of the mission tended to a pessimistic view on the last point.

It was, nevertheless, right from every perspective, moral, political, strategic, and from the standpoint of the interests and the role of the Security Council, that the special mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo was extended to include Addis Ababa and Asmara, the mission's report said. Any diplomatic effort, even if it was not successful, was worthwhile when the consequences of war for the peoples of the two nations would be so disastrous.

The mission, which was headed by the Permanent Representative of the United States, Richard Holbrooke, included: Jean-David Levitte (France); Moctar Ouane (Mali); Martin Andjaba (Namibia); A.Peter van Walsum (Netherlands); Said Ben Mustapha (Tunisia); and Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom).

* *** *