29 September 2006
Security Council
SC/8842

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN ETHIOPIA-ERITREA

 

UNTIL JANUARY 2007, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1710 (2006)


Flowing from the Secretary-General’s stern warning that the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, if allowed to fester, could lead to disastrous consequences, the Security Council today decided to extend the United Nations Mission there for another four months, until 31 January 2007, and to transform or reconfigure it in the event the parties had not demonstrated progress towards demarcating their borders by then.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1710 (2006), the Council, in order to prepare for possible changes by that time, further intended to review the situation before the end of 30 November and, to that end, requested the Secretary-General to present updated options for possible changes to the Mission’s mandate.


In a further provision, the Council reiterated its demand in resolution 1640 (2005) that Eritrea reverse, without further delay or preconditions, all restrictions on the Mission’s movement and operations, and provide the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) with the access, assistance, support and protection required for the performance of its duties.  The Council expressed its deep concern at Eritrea’s recent expulsion of UNMEE personnel.


The Council also reiterated its demand that Ethiopia accept fully and without delay the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, and immediately take concrete steps to enable the Boundary Commission to demarcate the border completely, promptly and without preconditions.


Regretting the lack of progress on demarcation, the Council called on both parties to cooperate fully with the Boundary Commission.  Stressing that the parties have the primary responsibility for the implementation of the Algiers Agreements, the Council again called on the parties to implement completely and without further delay or preconditions the Boundary Commission’s decision and to take concrete steps to resume the demarcation process.


In that regard, the Council also demanded that the parties provide UNMEE with the necessary access, assistance, support and protection required for the performance of its duties, including its mandated task to assist the Boundary Commission in implementing the Delimitation Decision.


Under a related term, the Council again called on the parties to show maximum restraint and refrain from any threat or use of force against each other.


The meeting began at 4:40 p.m. and adjourned at 4:42 p.m.



Resolution


The full text of resolution 1710 (2006) reads as follows:


The Security Council,


Reaffirming all its previous resolutions and statements pertaining to the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea (hereinafter referred to as “the parties”) and the requirements contained therein, including in particular resolutions 1320 of 15 September 2000, 1430 of 14 August 2002, 1466 of 14 March 2003, 1640 of 23 November 2005 and 1681 of 31 May 2006,


Stressing its unwavering commitment to the peace process, and to the full and expeditious implementation of the Algiers Agreements, and the importance of prompt implementation of the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (S/2002/423) as a basis for peaceful and cooperative relations between the parties,


Reaffirming the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) as provided for in the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities of 18 June 2000 (S/2000/601) and recalling the objectives of its establishment and the commitment of the parties to respect the TSZ,


Commending the efforts made by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and its military and civilian personnel to accomplish its duties, despite the difficult circumstances,


Stressing further that the full demarcation of the border between the two parties is vital to lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as in the region, and recalling that both parties have agreed to accept the delimitation and demarcation determinations of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) as final and binding,


Expressing its full support for the ongoing process, aimed at implementing the final and binding decision of the EEBC,


Taking note of UNMEE’s statement of 25 September 2006 on allegations against UNMEE staff,


Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 19 September 2006 (S/2006/749),


“1.   Decides to extend the mandate of UNMEE for a period of four months, until 31 January 2007;


“2.   Reiterates its demand expressed in paragraph 1 of resolution 1640 (2005) that Eritrea reverse, without further delay or preconditions, all restrictions on UNMEE’s movement and operations, and provide UNMEE with the access, assistance, support and protection required for the performance of its duties, in this regard expresses its deep concern at the recent expulsion of UNMEE personnel by Eritrea;


“3.   Reiterates its call expressed in paragraph 2 of resolution 1640 (2005) that the parties show maximum restraint and refrain from any threat or use of force against each other;

“4.   Reiterates its demand expressed in paragraph 5 of resolution 1640 (2005) that Ethiopia accept fully and without delay the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and take immediately concrete steps to enable, without preconditions, the Commission to demarcate the border completely and promptly;


“5.   Regrets the lack of progress on demarcation, calls upon both parties to cooperate fully with the EEBC, including attending EEBC meetings, stresses that the parties have primary responsibility for the implementation of the Algiers Agreements, and calls again upon the parties to implement completely and without further delay or preconditions the decision of the EEBC and to take concrete steps to resume the demarcation process;


“6.   Demands that the parties provide UNMEE with the necessary access, assistance, support and protection required for the performance of its duties, including its mandated task to assist the EEBC in the expeditious and orderly implementation of the Delimitation Decision, in accordance with resolutions 1430 (2002) and 1466 (2003) and demands that any restrictions be lifted immediately;


“7.   Intends in the event it determines that the parties have not demonstrated progress towards demarcation by 31 January 2007, to transform or reconfigure UNMEE as the Council may decide;


“8.   Intends further to review the situation before 30 November 2006, in order to prepare for possible changes by 31 January 2007, and to that end requests the Secretary-General to present updated options for possible changes to UNMEE’s mandate;


“9.   Expresses its willingness to reconsider any changes to UNMEE it may make in accordance with paragraph 7 in light of subsequent progress toward demarcation, and its readiness to take further decisions to ensure that UNMEE will be able to facilitate demarcation as progress becomes possible;


“10.  Calls on Member States to provide contributions to the Trust Fund, established pursuant to resolution 1177 (1998) and referred to in article 4 (17) of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea on 12 December 2000, in order to support the demarcation process;


“11.  Expresses its deep appreciation for the contribution and dedication of the troop-contributing countries to the work of UNMEE;


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


Background


When the Security Council met this afternoon, it had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the Ethiopia and Eritrea (document S/2006/749), which describes the activities of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), and recommends an extension of the Mission’s mandate for a further six months, until 31 March 2007.


Four years after the 2002 decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, the Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about the stalemate in the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process, the report states.  “This is an untenable situation, which, if allowed to fester, could lead intentionally or unintentionally to events with disastrous consequences for the two countries and the region as a whole”, the Secretary-General says.


The report notes that, although both Ethiopia and Eritrea continue to reaffirm their commitment to the ceasefire and the peace process, some of their public rhetoric and political actions contradict the letter and spirit of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities.  At a time when the international community is making strenuous efforts to resolve the stalemate and initiate border demarcation, it is imperative for the parties to refrain from provocative actions, including the use of hostile propaganda and mutual public attacks.  Regrettably, the parties’ political will to finally resolve the issues and implement the Boundary Commission’s decision remains elusive.


The Secretary-General states that he is concerned about Ethiopia’s non-compliance with operative paragraph 5 of Security Council resolution 1640 (2005).  The provision, among other things, demands that Ethiopia accept fully and without further delay the binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and immediately take concrete steps to enable, without preconditions, the Commission to demarcate the border completely and promptly.  Full compliance with the resolution, which is based on the provisions of the Algiers Agreement, is key to resolving the existing stalemate in the peace process and moving the demarcation process forward.


At the same time, the Secretary-General says he is concerned by Eritrea’s refusal to continue its cooperation with the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and to attend the Commission’s meetings in June and August.  The existing impasse cannot be removed without cooperation with the Commission, contacts, political will and dialogue.  Ultimately, it is the parties themselves that bear the primary responsibility to implement the Algiers Agreement.  “The status quo is not acceptable or sustainable”, the Secretary-General adds.


The Secretary-General states that he is also concerned by Eritrea’s failure to lift the existing ban on UNMEE helicopter flights in its airspace, as well as by other serious restrictions that it has imposed on the freedom of movement of the Mission’s personnel.  The restrictions seriously compromise the Mission’s monitoring capability in the Temporary Security Zone and the adjacent areas, and contravene the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities.  Eritrea’s failure to rescind the expulsion, in December 2005, of UNMEE personnel of selected nationalities has adversely affected the Mission’s operations, and constitutes a blatant violation of one of the most basic principles of United Nations peacekeeping.  He calls on Eritrea’s Government to reverse, in compliance with resolution 1649 (2005), all restrictions that it has imposed on UNMEE.


The arrest and detention of an UNMEE international staff member, the expulsion of five United Nations security officers and the ongoing arrests and detention by the Eritrean security services of the Mission’s locally recruited staff are particularly troubling, the report notes.  Eritrea’s Government should release, without delay, all staff members who are in detention, and allow UNMEE to carry out its normal activities.


The meetings of the Boundary Commission and the United States ongoing diplomatic initiative, which the Council has actively supported, give the parties


a unique opportunity to resolve the stalemate and move the peace process forward, the report states.  In that connection, the Secretary-General calls upon both Ethiopia and Eritrea to recommit themselves to the peace process and cooperate with the Boundary Commission in compliance with operative paragraphs 4 and 5 of resolution 1681 (2006).


“There is still much work to be accomplished, in order to complete the peace process and create peaceful and cooperative relations between the parties”, the Secretary-General concludes.  The situation in the Horn of Africa remains politically tense and fragile.  The continuing conflict in Somalia and the unresolved crisis affecting Darfur contribute to the instability affecting the region, he says.


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For information media • not an official record