09/02/2001
Press Release
SC/7011



Security Council

4275th Meeting (PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES PEACE AGREEMENT BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA,

URGES FULL, EXPEDITIOUS COOPERATION WITH UNITED NATIONS MISSION


Presidential Statement Also Welcomes Temporary Security Zone Agreement,

Addresses Troop Redeployment, Mine Action, Financing Border Demarcation


The Security Council this afternoon strongly welcomed and supported the Peace Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia signed on 12 December in Algiers, and further welcomed their recent agreement to establish a Temporary Security Zone, which will pave the way for the safe deployment of United Nations peacekeepers. 


According to a presidential statement read out by this month’s Council President, Saïd Ben Mustapha (Tunisia), the Council urged the parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), including through the complete redeployment of troops, establishment of a direct air corridor between Addis Ababa and Asmara to ensure freedom of movement for the Mission’s flights, and the conclusion of the status-of-forces agreements.


The Council further urged the parties to facilitate mine action. Noting with concern that mines and unexploded ordnance remained the pre-eminent threat to the safety and security of the Mission’s troops and the population in and around the future Temporary Security zone, it called upon the international community to generously support non-governmental organizations with resources, skills and expertise in demining so that they, in coordination with the United Nations, could assist both Governments in that undertaking.


The Council called on the parties to ensure the continued safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need, to guarantee the safety and security of all Mission and humanitarian personnel, and to respect strictly the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.


The Council drew the urgent attention of Member States to the fact that funds provided to date for border delimitation and demarcation, through the United Nations Trust Fund established in June 1998, remained clearly inadequate to meet the expenses of the Boundary Commission for the work entrusted to it under the Peace Agreement.  The Council, thus, called upon Member States to consider providing further support to the peace process.


Recognizing that the war had exacted a heavy toll on the populations of those two countries, the Council urged the Governments to continue to redirect their efforts towards the reconstruction and development of both economies, work towards reconciliation with a view to normalizing their relations, and engage in constructive cooperation with the other neighbouring States in the Horn of Africa.


The meeting, which began at 12:57 p.m., was adjourned at 1:05 p.m.

Presidential Statement


The full text of the presidential statement, which will be issued as S/PRST/2001/4, reads as follows:


“The Security Council, recalling all previous resolutions and statements of its President regarding the situation in Eritrea and Ethiopia, notes with appreciation the Secretary-General’s progress report of 12 January 2001 (S/2001/45) and subsequent update pertaining to the matter.


“The Security Council reaffirms the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Eritrea and Ethiopia, and further reaffirms its continued commitment to a peaceful definitive settlement of the conflict.


“The Security Council, reiterating its strong support for the Agreement of Cessation of Hostilities signed by the parties in Algiers on 18 June 2000 (S/2000/601), strongly welcomes and supports the subsequent Peace Agreement between the Government of the State of Eritrea and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (S/2000/1183) signed in Algiers on 12 December 2000 (“Algiers Agreement”).  It commends the efforts of the Organization of African Unity, the President of Algeria and his Special Envoy, as well as the United States of America and the European Union for their role in achieving the Algiers Agreement.


“The Security Council encourages both parties to continue working towards the full and prompt implementation of the Algiers Agreement.  In this connection, it further welcomes the agreement reached by the parties on 6 February 2001 to move forward with the establishment of the Temporary Security Zone on 12 February 2001.


“The Security Council expresses its strong support for the Secretary-General’s role in continuing to help implement the Algiers Agreement, including through his own good offices, for the efforts of his Special Representative and for the contributions of relevant United Nations entities.


“The Security Council notes with satisfaction that the Algiers Agreement includes mechanisms for the delimitation and demarcation of the common border and for addressing claims and compensation, and that the parties are cooperating with the Secretary-General in these matters in accordance with agreed schedules.  It draws the urgent attention of Member States to the fact that funds provided to date for border delimitation and demarcation, through the United Nations Trust Fund established under resolution 1177 (1998) of 26 June 1998, remain clearly inadequate to meet the expenses of the Boundary Commission for the work entrusted to it under the Algiers Agreement.  While expressing appreciation to those Member States that have already contributed financially, the Council calls upon Member States to consider providing further support to the peace process, including through contributions to the voluntary Trust Fund in order to assist the parties in rapid delimitation and demarcation of the common border in accordance with resolution 1312 (2000) of 31 July 2000 and in accordance with the Algiers Agreement.


“The Security Council notes with appreciation the expeditious deployment of the United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) allowing the parties to redeploy and rearrange their forces as scheduled. It expresses appreciation to the troop-contributing countries and to those Member States that have provided UNMEE with additional assets.


“The Security Council urges the parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate, including through the complete redeployment of troops consistent with the Algiers Agreement, the establishment of a direct air corridor between Addis Ababa and Asmara to ensure freedom of movement for UNMEE flights, and the conclusion of the necessary Status of Forces Agreements, including identifying suitable accommodation sites for UNMEE.


“The Security Council further urges the parties to facilitate mine action in coordination with the United Nations Mine Action Service, including through exchanging and providing existing maps and any other relevant information to the United Nations.  It notes with concern that mines and unexploded ordnance remain the pre-eminent threat to the safety and security of UNMEE troops and the population in and around the future Temporary Security Zone.  It calls upon the international community to support generously non-governmental organizations with resources, skills and expertise in demining so that, in coordination with UNMEE and the United Nations country teams, they can assist both Governments in this undertaking.


“The Security Council encourages both parties to continue to exercise restraint and to implement confidence-building measures, to continue the release and voluntary and orderly return under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) of civilians that remain interned, to release remaining prisoners of war and facilitate their return under the auspices of the ICRC, and to fulfil their commitments under the Algiers Agreement to afford humane treatment to each other’s nationals and persons of each other’s national origin.


“The Security Council calls on the parties to ensure the continued safe and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance to those in need, to guarantee the safety and security of all UNMEE, ICRC and other humanitarian personnel and to respect strictly the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.


“The Security Council recognizes that the effects of the war have exacted a heavy toll on the civilian populations of Eritrea and Ethiopia, including through the internal displacement and outflow of refugees.  It urges the respective Governments to continue to redirect their efforts towards the reconstruction and development of both economies, to work towards reconciliation with a view to normalizing their relations, and to engage in constructive cooperation with the other neighbouring States in the Horn of Africa, with a view to achieving stability in the subregion.  It further urges contributions from the international community, including the United Nations agencies and the international financial institutions, in support of the reconstruction efforts of both countries.


“The Security Council remains seized of the matter.”


Secretary-General’s Report


When the Council met to consider the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea, it had before it a 12 January progress report of the Secretary-General (document S/2001/45), which was prepared at the Council’s request.


The report provides an update on political and humanitarian developments since the Secretary-General’s report of 18 September 2000.  It also describes the status of deployment of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) as authorized by the Security Council in resolutions 1312 (2000) of 31 July 2000 and 1320 (2000) of 15 September 2000. The report considers political developments, UNMEE’s status, mine action, humanitarian developments and financial aspects of the Mission.


The Secretary-General observes that the signing at Algiers of the

12 December Peace Agreement was a major achievement, which underlines the commitment of both countries to the consolidation of the peace process.  It is encouraging that the parties have already taken steps towards the implementation of some of their commitments under the Agreement.  He calls upon them to comply with it in full and without undue delay.  In that effort, the United Nations stands ready to work closely with the Eritrean ad Ethiopian authorities, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and others concerned. 


Also according to the report, the Secretary-General expresses his pleasure at the rapid deployment of UNMEE.  The process is expected to be completed in the coming weeks and will create conditions conducive to a durable peace.  The delay in establishing the Temporary Security Zone, due to disagreements between the parties over the redeployment plans during the second meeting of the Military Coordination Committee, however, is a source of concern.  In this connection, it should be emphasized that the redeployment is an operational requirement meant to avert the risk of incidents between the troops facing each other on the ground.  The redeployment will in no way prejudge the final status of the contested areas.


A few matters pertaining to UNMEE’s deployment remained unresolved, he continues.  In that regard, it was essential that the Governments agree to sign the status-of-forces agreements without any further delay.  Mines and unexploded ordnance remain the pre-eminent threat to the UNMEE troops and the population in and around the future Temporary Security Zone.  Hopefully, the international community will generously support non-governmental organizations with the resources, skills and expertise in demining so that, in coordination with UNMEE and the United Nations country teams, they can assist both Governments with this major undertaking.  Accordingly, the Secretary-General urges the international community to increase its support for demining activities and mine-awareness programmes in Eritrea and Ethiopia.


Particularly relevant to the Mission’s mandate is the work of the Boundary Commission entrusted by the Peace Agreement with the delimitation and demarcation of the border, the report states.  The Secretary-General trusts that the parties will work constructively towards establishing the Commission within the time frame set in the Agreement and that they will facilitate its work and respect its decisions.  The Commission's success will require that its work be put on a solid financial footing. 


Under the Agreement, the report continues, the parties agreed to equally bear the Commission’s expenses.  The parties are, therefore, expected to finance the Commission as soon as possible.  The Agreement also states that the Commission may accept donations from the United Nations Trust Fund established under paragraph 8 of Security Council resolution 1177 (1998).  As of 10 January, voluntary contributions to the Fund total some $1.7 million.  Although the Commission itself will prepare a budget for its work, resources currently available in the Trust Fund are inadequate to meet the Commission’s expenses.

Subject to the availability of resources, the United Nations will be ready to assist in the work of the Commission, the report states.  Under the Algiers Agreement, the United Nations Cartographer will serve as Commission Secretary.  The Commission may also require UNMEE's onsite logistical support.  To facilitate the Commission's early start-up, costs related to the work of the Commission’s Secretary, as well as any support that the Commission may require in the field, should be included in the Mission’s budget.  Depending on the Commission’s future requirements, the Secretary-General may revert to the Council and other competent bodies concerning its financing.


The report finds that, despite encouraging statements by the authorities, a war of words has continued in the media, and to some extent, in the official statements of both sides.  Beyond silencing guns, both sides must embrace peace, build trust and work for genuine reconciliation, the Secretary-General states. 


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