14/09/2001
Press Release
SC/7144



Security Council

4372nd Meeting* (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF UNMEE UNTIL 15 MARCH 2002


The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), at unchanged troop and military observer levels, until 15 March 2002.


By unanimously adopting resolution 1369 (2001), the Council also called on the parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate, and to abide scrupulously by the letter and spirit of their agreements. 


By other terms, the Council emphasized that the Algiers Agreements linked the termination of UNMEE with the completion of the work of the independent Boundary Commission, which is charged with delimitation and demarcation of the border between the two countries, and that the interim Temporary Security Zone must be completely demilitarized.


The Council called on the parties to urgently resolve outstanding issues from that agreement, and to fulfil their obligations to provide freedom of movement for UNMEE personnel, facilitate the establishment of an air corridor between Addis Ababa and Asmara, provide information on the local militia and police inside the Zone, release detainees, and meet their financial responsibilities to the Boundary Commission. 


The resolution also called on Ethiopia to provide information on minefields and on Eritrea to conclude a status-of-forces agreement with the Secretary-General.  It further called on both parties to pursue confidence-building measures.


The Council urged the parties to ensure that their efforts were redirected from weapons procurement and other military activities towards the reconstruction and development of their economies, and encouraged the international community to support the peace process.


The meeting, which started at 1:10 p.m., was adjourned at 1:13 p.m.


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*     The 4371st meeting was closed


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1369 (2001), contained in document S/2001/862, reads as follows:


“The Security Council,


“Recalling resolutions 1298 (2000) of 17 May 2000, 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000, 1312 (2000) of 31 July 2000, 1320 (2000) of 15 September 2000 and 1344 (2001) of 15 March 2001, the statements of its President of 9 February 2001 (S/PRST/4) and of 15 May 2001 (S/PRST/2001/14) and all relevant previous resolutions and statements pertaining to the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea,


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


“Further reaffirming the need for both parties to fulfil their obligations under international law, international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, and to ensure the safety of all personnel of the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations,


“Reaffirming its strong support for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of the State of Eritrea and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, signed in Algiers on 12 December 2000 (S/2000/1183), and the preceding Agreement of Cessation of Hostilities, signed in Algiers on 18 June 2000 (hereafter referred to collectively as the Algiers Agreements),


“Further reaffirming its strong support for the help in implementing the Algiers Agreements continuously provided by the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, including through their good offices, and by the Organization of African Unity (OAU),


“Reaffirming its strong support for the role played by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the implementation of its mandate, as well as by the OAU Liaison Mission in Ethiopia-Eritrea (OLMEE),


“Welcoming the progress made thus far in implementing the Algiers Agreements, including in the establishment and functioning of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and the constitution of the Boundary and Claims Commissions, respectively,


“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 5 September 2001 (S/2001/843),


“1.   Decides to extend the mandate of UNMEE at the troop and military observer levels authorized by its resolution 1320 (2000) until 15 March 2002;


(page 1b follows)


“2.   Calls on the parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate and to abide scrupulously by the letter and spirit of their agreements, including regarding cooperation with the Boundary Commission and facilitation of its work;


“3.   Emphasizes that the Algiers Agreements link the termination of UNMEE with the completion of the work of the Boundary Commission related to delimitation and demarcation of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border;


“4.   Further emphasizes that the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) must be completely demilitarized;


“5.   Calls on the parties to urgently resolve the outstanding issues in accordance with the Algiers Agreements and fulfil the following obligations:


“(a)  The parties must provide freedom of movement and access for UNMEE personnel and its supplies as required for the performance of UNMEE’s duties; Eritrea must without restrictions allow UNMEE to monitor the 15 km area north of the TSZ and Ethiopia must avoid creating restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMEE in the 15 km area south of the TSZ;


“(b)  The parties must facilitate the establishment of a secure and practicable air corridor between Addis Ababa and Asmara, which does not require a detour through other countries, by accepting the proposal made in this regard by the Special Representative of the Secretary General;


“(c)  Eritrea must provide UNMEE with information on the local militia and police inside the TSZ, including their weapons, necessary for the mission to verify that the functions and configuration of the militia and police do not exceed that which prevailed before the outbreak of the conflict;


“(d)  Ethiopia must provide UNMEE with full information and maps concerning all minefields so as to facilitate the work of the Mine Action Coordination Centre with a view, inter alia, to allow internally displaced persons to return safely to homes within the TSZ;


“(e)  Eritrea must, without further delay, conclude the Status of Forces Agreement with the Secretary-General;


“(f)  The parties must, unconditionally and without further delay, and in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions, release and return the remaining prisoners of war and detainees under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross;


“(g)  The parties must fulfil their financial responsibilities regarding the Boundary Commission;


“6.   Further calls on the parties, where relevant in cooperation with UNMEE, to explore and pursue a range of confidence-building measures, including the following:


(page 1c follows)


“(a)  Affording humane treatment to each other’s nationals and persons of each other’s national origin and allowing each other’s nationals to remain, without discrimination, in locations where they have decided to settle;


“(b)  Assisting relevant initiatives and contacts between organizations and groups, including those of the civil society, in the two countries;


“(c)  Exercising restraint in public statements;


“7.   Encourages all States and international organizations to support the peace process, including through:


“(a)  Contributions to the voluntary Trust Fund to Support the Peace Process in Ethiopia and Eritrea to facilitate Quick-Impact Projects for emergency reconstruction and confidence-building measures;


“(b)  Contributions to the voluntary Trust Fund for the Delimitation and Demarcation of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea;


“(c)  Contributions to the United Nations Country Teams’ Consolidated Appeals for Humanitarian Assistance to Eritrea and Ethiopia;


“(d)  Assistance to facilitate sustainable reintegration of demobilized soldiers, internally displaced persons and refugees;


“(e)  Assistance in the longer term tasks of reconstruction and development, and the economic and social recovery of Ethiopia and Eritrea;


“(f)  Exercising the highest degree of responsibility in discouraging arms flows to the region;


“8.   Urges the parties to ensure that efforts are redirected from weapons procurement and other military activities towards the reconstruction and development of their economies and encourages both countries to continue and enhance the efforts to improve their relations in order to promote regional peace and security;


“9.   Expresses its intention to continue to monitor closely progress by the parties in implementing the provisions of the Algiers Agreements and the requirements of this resolution, and to consider a mission to the two countries before agreeing to a further mandate renewal in order to monitor progress and discuss possible further steps towards reconciliation;


“10.  Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”


Background


This afternoon, the Security Council has before it the Secretary-General’s latest report on the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea (document S/2001/843).


That report was requested in Council resolution 1344 (2001) of 15 March 2001, which also extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) until 15 September 2001.  It contains an update on political, humanitarian and human rights developments, as well as on the deployment and activities of UNMEE since the last report on 19 June 2001 (document S/2001/608). It also provides recommendations regarding the extension of UNMEE’s mandate.


The Secretary-General reports he is confident that progress achieved in the peace process can be sustained with the continued involvement of UNMEE.  He, therefore, recommends that the Mission’s mandate be extended for six months, until 15 March 2002.


The UNMEE was established in its present configuration by the Council on

15 September 2000 (resolution 1320 (2000)), the report notes.  The three-month period under review, which completes the first year of the Mission's operations, has seen the gradual consolidation of the progress.  While the past 12 months have not been without difficulties, there were also grounds for satisfaction.  The Secretary-General reports that the Mission's approach, of steadily addressing the problems of the implementation of the peace process, has yielded results.


The Secretary-General states that, with the submission of the final map of the boundaries of the Temporary Security Zone to the two parties, that Zone, which was established in April 2001, is now operational.  While the two Governments have not formally accepted that map, their de facto respect for the boundaries on the ground is a good sign.  For the first time in three years, the armies of Ethiopia and Eritrea are fully separated, and some of their soldiers are beginning to return home.


A majority of people displaced by the war has returned to their homes in the Temporary Security Zone, and the processes of rehabilitation and reconstruction have begun, notes the Secretary-General.  Everywhere people are seeking to rebuild their lives.  The commitment to peace demonstrated by the parties has made this possible, and that same commitment must carry Ethiopia and Eritrea towards a definitive resolution of the border question.


The Secretary-General states that several outstanding issues remain, and the parties' cooperation in resolving them is crucial.  It is essential that both Governments grant UNMEE unimpeded and unconditional freedom of movement, including in the areas adjacent to the Temporary Security Zone.  It is also essential that they both agree to a direct high altitude flight path between Asmara and Addis Ababa.


Since the release and repatriation of prisoners of war is a fundamental aspect of the peace process, the Secretary-General urged both parties to resume and rapidly complete the unconditional release of prisoners of war.  In addition, nationals of both Ethiopia and Eritrea should be allowed to remain, without any discrimination, where they have decided to settle.


Regarding the status-of-forces agreement, the Secretary-General states that it is regrettable that the Eritrean Government has not yet agreed to sign it, despite his repeated appeals and a request by the Council (in resolution 1320 (2000)) that the agreement be concluded in October 2000.  He recalled that Ethiopia signed the agreement on 22 March 2001.  He called for strict respect for the letter and spirit of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities and the Protocol Agreement on Militia and Police, to ensure that the Temporary Security Zone is effectively demilitarized.  He also expressed his expectation that Ethiopia would ensure that UNMEE has necessary access to all minefield information.


The Secretary-General reported he had the opportunity to meet separately with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea to discuss the status of the peace process and the difficulties he has mentioned, during the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit in Lusaka in July 2001.  In similar letters addressed to both leaders on 2 August 2001, he once again shared with them his concerns and urged them to ensure that their Governments cooperate closely with UNMEE, in order to resolve the outstanding problems.


According to the report, the precarious humanitarian conditions prevailing in both countries remain a source of concern.  Mr. Annan repeats his call to the international donor community to respond generously to the United Nations Country Teams' consolidated appeals for humanitarian assistance for Ethiopia and Eritrea. He also urges donors to support the humanitarian assistance activities of UNMEE, through contributions to the newly established Trust Fund.


The Secretary-General stresses that the presence of mines and unexploded ordnance remains a major threat to UNMEE and the civilian population.  The generous contributions provided by some Member States through the Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Action managed by the Mine Action Service of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and through other mechanisms, are, therefore, very appreciated.  Underfunding seriously hinders the United Nations capacity to train, equip and deploy humanitarian demining personnel with appropriate supervision.  The Secretary-General urges those countries that are in a position to do so to contribute generously to these activities.


According to the report, the devastating war between Ethiopia and Eritrea cost large numbers of human lives and severely damaged the economies of both countries.  The bitterness and tragedy of this conflict continue to affect the relationship between the two countries and prevent the resolution of many pending issues.  Despite this, Mr. Annan reports the people of both States yearn to rebuild their lives in peace and to renew ties enjoyed before the war broke out. The United Nations will continue to assist both parties in engaging in confidence-building activities, in order to foster trust between them at various levels.


The report notes with concern that some political developments in both countries have given rise to anxieties that such developments could impact on the peace process.  He trusts both Governments will continue to act in accordance with the wishes of their people for lasting peace.  Nevertheless, he observes, the progress achieved in the past year is a tribute to the commitment to peace by both Governments and to the common vision and action of the Member States involved, the Council, as well as the troop-contributing nations.

The report states that during the reporting period, UNMEE has continued to cooperate closely with the Organization of African Unity (OAU).  While the Secretary-General and Special Representative have maintained close political contact with the OAU, UNMEE has enjoyed a similar degree of cooperation at the military level both in the field and within the Military Coordination Commission, where the OAU is represented.


Background on UNMEE


Fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted in May 1998, as a result of a border dispute.  The Secretary-General immediately contacted both countries, urging restraint and offering assistance, and asked Mohamed Sahnoun (Algeria), his Special Envoy in Africa, to assist with mediation efforts being undertaken by the OAU.


At an OAU summit in July 1999, the two parties entered an agreement to redeploy their forces.  Despite further mediation, proposals to end the conflict from the OAU and the United States, and talks between a special Security Council mission and the leaders of each country, tension along the border remained very high, and fighting erupted again on 12 May 2000.


On 17 May 2000, the Security Council adopted a resolution (1298) which aimed to prevent the supply of weapons to the two countries.  It also demanded the parties reconvene, under the auspices of the OAU and without preconditions, substantive peace talks.  Proximity talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea resumed in Algiers on 30 May.  They resulted in both countries signing an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities on 18 June 2000, which called on the United Nations, in cooperation with the OAU, to establish a peacekeeping operation to assist in its implementation.


On 31 June, the Security Council (resolution 1312 (2000)) decided to establish the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) on the basis of a recommendation from the Secretary-General.  The Mission's mandate included to liaise with the parties; establish and operate a mechanism for verifying the cessation of hostilities; prepare for the establishment of a Military Coordination Commission provided for in the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement; and assist in planning for a future peacekeeping operation.


Reporting to the Council on 9 August, the Secretary-General outlined the mandate of an expanded UNMEE and recommended a total of 4,200 military personnel, including 220 military observers, three infantry battalions and the necessary support units, to monitor the ceasefire and border delineation between Ethiopia and Eritrea.  A special representative would have overall authority and maintain close contact with political and military leadership of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Offices in Addis Ababa and Asmara would be complemented by regional headquarters based in Mendefera, western Eritrea, and Mekele, northern Ethiopia.


Negotiations continued, facilitated by President Bouteflika of Algeria, and resulted in the signing on 12 December 2000 of a comprehensive Peace Agreement.


This Agreement commits the sides to a complete termination of hostilities, requires the establishment of a neutral Boundary Commission to "delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border", foresees the creation of a neutral Claims

Commission which would decide on claims from either side, and calls for an independent investigation into the origins of the conflict.


The UNMEE currently has some 4,000 peacekeepers and about 250 military observers, in addition to civilian staff.


As of April, the troops of both countries have withdrawn from the Temporary Security Zone area, and UNMEE has declared the establishment of that Temporary Security Zone -- a zone, set out in the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities to separate the two forces, and is monitoring the Zone.


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