12/09/2003
Press Release
SC/7869



Security Council

4822nd Meeting* (AM)


EXTENDING MANDATE OF UN MISSION, SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS ON ETHIOPIA, ERITREA

TO COOPERATE WITH BOUNDARY COMMISSION


Resolution Reaffirms Crucial Importance of Political Dialogue between Parties


The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), which was to expire on 15 September, until 15 March 2004.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1507 (2003), the Council called on both Ethiopia and Eritrea to cooperate fully and promptly with the Boundary Commission in fulfilling its demarcating activities, to implement fully its Demarcation Directions and Orders, and to take all necessary steps to provide the necessary security on the ground for the Commission’s staff and contractors operating in territories under their control.


Noting that the peace process has entered its crucial phase of demarcation, the Council emphasized the importance of ensuring expeditious implementation of the Boundary Decision, while maintaining stability in all areas affected by the Decision. 


The Council, concerned at delays in the demarcation process, particularly given the Mission’s operational cost at a time of growing demands on United Nations peacekeeping, called for boundary demarcation to begin as scheduled.  It further called on the parties to create the necessary conditions for demarcation to proceed, including the appointment of field liaison officers.


Concerned also by the reported increase in local level incursions into the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), the Council called on both parties to prevent such incidents and expressed further concern about the increasing number of mine incidents in the TSZ, including newly planted mines.


By other terms of the resolution, the Council urged the parties to fully and expeditiously cooperate with UNMEE, to ensure the personal security of all Mission staff when operating in territories under its control, and to facilitate their work, including by establishing a direct high-altitude flight route between Asmara and Addis Ababa and by lifting visa restrictions on UNMEE personnel and Mission partners.


Reaffirming the crucial importance of political dialogue between the two countries, the Council welcomed initiatives to facilitate that dialogue, and called again on both parties to normalize their relationship through political dialogue, including confidence-building measures.


[The UNMEE was established after Ethiopia and Eritrea signed an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities on 18 June 2000 in Algiers, Algeria.  The fighting had erupted in May 1998 as a result of a border dispute.  Further negotiations resulted in the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement on 12 December 2000, also in Algiers.  On 14 August 2002, by its unanimous adoption of resolution 1430 (2002), the Council adjusted the Mission’s mandate to assist in the expeditious and orderly implementation of the 13 April Delimitation Decision of the Boundary Commission.]


The meeting started at 11:15 a.m. and ended at 11:20 a.m.


Resolution


Following is the full text of Security Council resolution 1507 (2003):


The Security Council,


Reaffirming all its previous resolutions and statements pertaining to the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the requirements contained therein, including in particular resolution 1466 (2003) of 14 March 2003, and the presidential statement of 17 July 2003 (S/PRST/2003/10),


Further reaffirming its unwavering support for the peace process and its commitment, including through the role played by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the implementation of its mandate, to the full and expeditious implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea (hereinafter referred to as “the parties”) on 12 December 2000 and the preceding Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities of

18 June 2000 (S/2000/1183 and S/2000/601, respectively, hereinafter referred to as the “Algiers Agreements”) and the Delimitation Decision by the Boundary Commission of 13 April 2002 (S/2002/423), embraced by the parties as final and binding in accordance with the Algiers Agreements,


Noting that the peace process has now entered its crucial phase of demarcation and emphasizing the importance of ensuring expeditious implementation of the Boundary Decision while maintaining stability in all areas affected by the decision,


Expressing concern at delays in the demarcation process, particularly given the operational cost of UNMEE at a time of growing demands on United Nations peacekeeping,


Expressing concern at the continuing humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia and Eritrea and the implications this could have on the peace process, and calling on Member States to continue to provide prompt and generous support for humanitarian operations in Ethiopia and Eritrea,


Reiterating its urgent demand that the parties allow UNMEE full freedom of movement and remove with immediate effect any and all restrictions on, and impediments to the work of, UNMEE and its staff in the discharge of its mandate,


Expressing concern regarding the reported increase in incidents of incursions at the local level into the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), and calling on both parties to prevent such incidents, and expressing further concern about the increasing number of mine incidents in the TSZ, including newly planted mines,


Noting the work done by the UNMEE Mine Action Coordination Centre in demining and education on risk related to mines, and urging the parties to pursue efforts on mine clearance,


Having considered the report of the Secretary-General (S/2003/858), and fully supporting the observations and recommendations made therein,


“1.Decides to extend the mandate of UNMEE at the troop and military observer levels authorized by its resolution 1320 (2000) of 15 September 2000, until 15 March 2004;


“2.Calls for demarcation of the boundary to begin as scheduled by the Boundary Commission and further calls on the parties to create the necessary conditions for demarcation to proceed, including the appointment of field liaison officers;


“3.Urges the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea to assume their responsibilities and to take further concrete steps to fulfil their commitments under the Algiers Agreements;


“4.Calls on Ethiopia and Eritrea to cooperate fully and promptly with the Boundary Commission to enable it to fulfil the mandate conferred upon it by the parties of expeditiously demarcating the boundary and to implement fully the Commission’s Demarcation Directions and Orders, and to take all necessary steps to provide the necessary security on the ground for the Boundary Commission’s staff and contractors operating in territories under their control, and welcomes assurances given by both parties in this regard;


“5.Urges the parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate, to ensure the personal security of all UNMEE staff when operating in territories under their control, and to facilitate their work, including by establishing a direct high-altitude flight route between Asmara and Addis Ababa to relieve the unnecessary additional cost to UNMEE, and by lifting all visa restrictions on UNMEE personnel and mission partners;


“6.Reaffirms the crucial importance of political dialogue between the two countries for the success of the peace process and the consolidation of progress made so far, welcomes initiatives to facilitate this dialogue, and calls again on both parties to normalize their relationship through political dialogue, including confidence-building measures;


“7.Decides to follow closely the progress made by the parties in the implementation of their commitments under the Algiers Agreements, including through the Boundary Commission, and to review any implications for UNMEE;


“8.Welcomes the contributions by Member States to the Trust Fund for the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Border, and calls on the international community to continue to contribute urgently to the Trust Fund in order to facilitate the conclusion of the demarcation process in accordance with the Boundary Commission’s schedule;


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


Background


When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea, it had before it a progress report of the Secretary-General (document S/2003/858) which recommends an extension of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) for a further six months, until 15 March.


The report recalls that UNMEE was created for limited purposes and was never meant to be a permanent arrangement.  The time may be approaching when the parties will need more active assistance in fulfilling both the letter and spirit of the Algiers Agreements and concluding the process without further delay.  Some of the parties’ closest friends and allies could play a crucial role in this regard.


The Secretary-General says the international community stands ready to assist the two parties.  However, as stated in the Security Council’s presidential statement of 17 July (document SPRST/2003/10), the delays in the demarcation process are a source of concern, particularly given the operational cost of UNMEE at a time of growing demands on United Nations peacekeeping.


He observes in the report that the overall security situation in the Temporary Security Zone and the adjacent areas remains generally calm and secure, and the military postures of the two parties indicate that they have no intention of resuming hostilities.  Indeed, they have continued to emphasize that they need peace, in order to focus on the challenges they each face domestically.  Incidents at the local level in and around the Temporary Security Zone have become more frequent, however, which is a source of concern.  This increase may be a sign of growing uneasiness among the people living in the border area, resulting from the uncertainties inherent in an un-demarcated border.


Council members will recall that, in July, the Boundary Commission, in an addendum to its ninth report, issued a schedule of the order of activities ahead, he says.  The first was the appointment of field liaison officers for the remaining demarcation activities.  Eritrea has now made these appointments, and Ethiopia should do the same without delay.  The schedule also called for the commencement late in August of the factual survey of the Tserona and Zalambessa areas, as well as the field assessment of pillar sites in Sectors West and Centre.


The report states further that, in the absence of Ethiopia’s field liaison officers, as well as in view of the fact that the Commission’s field offices are still awaiting the necessary security assurances from the parties, it has not been possible for the Commission to commence the field surveys, which were to be completed in September.  Another crucial test of the parties’ commitment to the process will come in October, when pillar emplacement is scheduled to begin in Sector East.  The Secretary-General calls on the two Governments to provide full cooperation to the Commission and its field offices so that the border can be demarcated as soon as possible.


The Secretary-General reiterates that a lasting peace would require a relationship between the parties that enabled them to address, through peaceful discourse, any problems that might arise between them.  An important step in that direction would be the initiation of political dialogue between them, with a view to the eventual normalization of relations.  Sadly, in the past three months, neither party has made discernible moves towards true neighbourliness.  As a result, both sides are left with a “cold peace” that is not conducive to the benefits -– economic, social, cultural and other –- that would normally accrue to peoples sharing a long border.  The peace process must not be allowed to lose momentum, he says.


Annexed to the report is the tenth report on the work of the Boundary Commission.  A second annex lists contributions to UNMEE as of 29 August.


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