30 January 2007
Security Council
SC/8944

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

Security Council

5626th Meeting* (AM)


Security Council extends Ethiopia and Eritrea mission until 31 July 2007,


Unanimously adopting resolution 1741 (2007)

 


Demands: Ethiopia Accept Boundary Decision; Eritrea Withdraw Troops

From Temporary Security Zone, Lift Restrictions on United Nations Movement


The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) for six months, until 31 July 2007.


It took that action by its unanimous adoption of resolution 1741 (2007), by which it also approved the reconfiguration of UNMEE’s military component, from the current 2,300 to 1,700 military personnel, including 230 military observers.  The Council decided also to maintain the Mission’s current mandate and maximum authorized force levels and stressed the need to preserve sufficient military capacity for UNMEE to implement its mandate.


The Council reiterated its demand that Ethiopia accept fully and without delay the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, and take immediate concrete steps to enable, without preconditions, the complete demarcation of the border between the two countries.  It demanded also that Eritrea immediately withdraw its troops and equipment from the Temporary Security Zone, and reiterated its demand that it reverse, without further delay or preconditions, all restrictions on UNMEE’s movement and operations, including those of the Secretary-General’s acting Special Representative, and provide the Mission with the access, assistance, support and protection required for the performance of its duties.


Reiterating its call that the parties show maximum restraint and refrain from any threat or use of force against each other, the Council called upon them to cooperate fully with the Boundary Commission, stressing their primary responsibility for implementing the Algiers Agreements.  It called again upon them to implement without further delay or preconditions the Boundary Commission’s decision and to take concrete steps to complete the demarcation process.


The Council 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 the expeditious and orderly implementation of the Delimitation Decision, in accordance with resolutions 1430 (2002) and 1466 (2003), and demanded the immediate lifting of any restrictions.


Calling upon the Secretary-General and the international community to help Eritrea and Ethiopia normalize their relations, to promote stability between them, and to lay the foundation for sustainable peace in the region, the Council called also upon Member States to provide contributions to the Trust Fund established pursuant to resolution 1177 (1998) in order to support the demarcation process.


This morning’s meeting began at10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:15 a.m.


Resolution


The full text of resolution 1741 (2007) 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 (2000), 1430 (2002), 1466 (2003), 1640 (2005), 1681 (2006) and 1710 (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, recalling that both parties have agreed to accept the delimitation and demarcation determinations of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) as final and binding, commending the efforts of the EEBC to resume demarcation, and expressing its regret that the EEBC, for reasons beyond its control as explained in the Annexes of the report of the Secretary-General of 22 January 2007 (S/2007/33), has so far been unable to complete demarcation of the boundary as planned,


Expressing its full support for the work of the EEBC and acknowledging the Statement of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) of 27 November 2006,


Having considered the Special report of the Secretary-General of 15 December 2006 (S/2006/992) and the options on the future of UNMEE contained therein, and taking note of the report of the Secretary-General of 22 January 2007 (S/2007/33),


Recalling paragraph 7 of resolution 1710 (2006),


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


“2.   Approves the reconfiguration of UNMEE’s military component, from the current 2,300 to 1,700 military personnel, including 230 military observers, in accordance with option I, as described in paragraphs 24 and 25 of the Special report of the Secretary-General (S/2006/992), decides to maintain the current mandate and maximum authorized force levels, as stipulated in resolution 1320 (2000) and further adjusted in resolutions 1430 (2002) and 1681 (2006), and stresses the need to preserve sufficient military capacity for UNMEE to implement its mandate;


“3.   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;


“4.   Demands that Eritrea immediately withdraw its troops and equipment from the Temporary Security Zone;


“5.   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, noting that these include the movement and operations of the acting SRSG, and provide UNMEE with the access, assistance, support and protection required for the performance of its duties;


“6.   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;


“7.   Regrets the lack of progress on demarcation, calls upon both parties to cooperate fully with the EEBC, 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 and complete the demarcation process;


“8.   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;


“9.   Calls upon the Secretary-General and the international community to engage with Eritrea and Ethiopia to help them to normalize their relations, to promote stability between the parties, and to lay the foundation for sustainable peace in the region;


“10.  Expresses its willingness to reconsider any changes to UNMEE 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;


“11.  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;


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


“13.  Requests the Secretary-General to include in his next progress report due by the end of April 2007, details of the progress made towards the implementation of this resolution and the implementation of the EEBC decision;


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


Background


Before the Council was the report of the Secretary-General on Ethiopia and Eritrea (document S/2007/33) dated 22 January 2007, in which he recommends a further six-month extension of UNMEE, noting that the “ongoing and dangerous” stalemate in the Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process remains a source of “deep concern”.  The impasse has the potential to not only lead to renewed hostilities between the two nations, but to destabilize the wider region, especially given the recent developments in neighbouring Somalia.


He observes that neither side has indicated any willingness to break the stalemate, with Ethiopia continuing to refuse to implement the binding decisions of the Boundary Commission, and Eritrea maintaining its troop presence in the Temporary Security Zone along the border and its restrictions on UNMEE’s operations.  Ethiopia’s refusal to implement, fully and without preconditions, the Boundary Commission’s demarcation of the border contradicts the terms of the Algiers Agreement signed by both parties following their two-year border war in the late 1990s.  In addition, at least 2,000 Eritrean troops are positioned inside the Temporary Security Zone with tanks, rocket launchers and guns, while the Eritrean Government maintains a ban on United Nations helicopter flights.


While strongly urging the Eritrean Government to withdraw its troops and military equipment from the Temporary Security Zone, the Secretary-General warns that both parties need to do much more than settle their border issue if they are to establish sustainable peace and reconciliation.  While the establishment of an internationally recognized border is essential, it is not sufficient to create sustainable peace and reconciliation between the two countries.  “The two Governments need to take the political decision to put the conflict behind them, for the sake of their own people, and move forward in a number of other areas that would help them to normalize relations.”


Also before the Council was the special report of the Secretary-General on Ethiopia and Eritrea (document S/2006/992) dated 15 December 2006, in which he notes that it has been more than six years since the establishment of UNMEE by resolution 1320 (2000) and more than five years since the Temporary Security Zone was set up in April 2001.  On 13 April 2002, the Boundary Commission rendered its delimitation decision, mandating it to proceed to the expeditious and full demarcation of the border.


Noting that the commitment to the peace process demonstrated by the parties at the time gave hope for a definitive resolution of their border dispute within a relatively short time, the special report says the parties’ cooperation with the Commission was not only assumed, but essential to the implementation of the delimitation decision.  However, that cooperation has progressively waned since 2003.


The report notes that, in that year Ethiopia, in response to the Commission’s decision, emphasized “the necessity of conducting the demarcation in a manner that takes into account the human and physical geography through the study of facts on the ground”.  With respect to Eritrea, cooperation began to deteriorate as harsh, humiliating impediments were placed on the work of UNMEE and its staff, which also affected the Boundary Commission’s work on the ground.


Despite the engagement and efforts of the international community, the parties have demonstrated no political will for compromise, the special report states.  Ethiopia’s refusal to implement the Boundary Commission’s award fully, and without precondition, is contrary to widely accepted principles of international law.  At the same time, in the absence of dialogue between the parties, and their failure to cooperate with the Commission, Eritrea’s refusal to avail itself of the recent diplomatic initiatives and the massive incursion of its troops into the Temporary Security Zone, tension on the ground has remained very high.  That country’s imposition of deliberately humiliating restrictions on UNMEE’s operations have called into question the Mission’s continued relevance and exacerbated the tension in the border area.


At the same time, the report says, the combined effect of the crippling Eritrean restriction represents a serious challenge to several core principles of United Nations peacekeeping, particularly the safety of its personnel and the need for freedom of movement, the exclusively international character of the personnel working under the Organization’s flag and the Secretary-General’s prerogative to appoint the required staff.  UNMEE has had to operate under unacceptable conditions for far too long and to continue to do so could have potentially serious implications for the wider concept of peacekeeping.


In the very precarious circumstances, UNMEE can regrettably ensure only a very limited observation of the security arrangements in the Temporary Security Zone and other commitments under the Algiers Agreement, according to the report.  The Mission can observe only 40 per cent of the Zone and is no longer in a position to monitor the Eritrean forces in their redeployed positions.  At the same time, despite the deliberately negative attitude towards the United Nations operation and individual peacekeepers, their presence and determination remain a political, operational and psychological obstacle to any precipitous action from either army.


This factor remains an impediment for those who would want the situation to escalate even further, with possible consequences for both countries and overall security in the region, the report notes, adding that the Secretary-General welcomes the Boundary Commission’s decision of 27 November to give the parties an additional 12 months to reflect on their respective positions and try to reach the necessary agreement on the emplacement of the border pillars.  If there is no progress in the coming months towards the carrying out of the Commission’s recommendation, the Council could then consider converting the United Nations operation into an observer or liaison mission.


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*     The 5625th Meeting was closed.


For information media • not an official record