|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5946th Meeting (AM)
Security Council terminates mandate of United Nations Mission in Ethiopia
and Eritrea, urging both countries to cooperate with liquidation process
The Security Council today terminated the mandate of the eight-year-old peacekeeping force monitoring the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea and requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to explore further with the two Horn of Africa countries the possibility of a United Nations presence in the area.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1827 (2008), the Council decided to end the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) when it’s mandate expires on Thursday, 31 July, and called on the two sides to cooperate fully with the world body in the process of liquidating the operation. It also demanded that Ethiopia and Eritrea comply fully with their obligations under the Algiers Agreements, “to show maximum restraint and refrain from any threat or use of force against each other, and to avoid provocative military activities”.
The Council emphasized that the termination was without prejudice to Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s obligations under the Algiers accords, by which both countries agreed that the delimitation and demarcation determinations of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission would be final and binding, and that their respective forces would respect the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ).
Expressing regret that Eritrea’s obstructions towards UNMEE had “reached a level so as to undermine the basis of the Mission’s mandate and compelled [it] to temporarily relocate from Eritrea”, the Council commended efforts by the Mission and its military and civilian personnel to accomplish their duties despite the difficult circumstances, and expressed also its deep appreciation for the contributions and dedication of troop-contributing countries to UNMEE’s work.
The Council also expressed strong support for the ongoing efforts by the Secretary-General and the international community to engage with Ethiopia and Eritrea to help them implement the Algiers Agreements, normalize their relations, promote stability between them, and lay the foundation for a comprehensive and lasting peace between them. It urged both countries to accept the Secretary-General’s good offices.
By other terms of the text, the Council took note of the Secretary-General’s letter to the Council, dated 28 July 2008, which reports on the Secretariat’s consultations with the parties, based on the following options, which were outlined in his earlier report: (a) a small military observer mission in Ethiopia; (b) a small political and military liaison office in Ethiopia; and (c) a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General based in New York.
The Secretary-General notes that, while those options were designed as conflict-prevention measures aimed at demonstrating the international community’s continued commitment to a peaceful resolution of the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea pending the establishment of an environment conducive to the normalization of their relations, “both parties have rejected the options put before them”.
While welcoming the parties’ earlier declarations that they had no intention of restarting the 1998-2000 war, the Secretary-General nevertheless believes that the risk of escalating tensions in the border area and of a resumption of hostilities, “by accident or design, following the withdrawal of UNMEE, remains a reality”. He also remains concerned about the destabilizing effect for the Horn of Africa of the continuing crisis and its negative impact on prospects for the region’s economic development and the welfare of its people.
Following the Council’s vote, Jan Grauls ( Belgium), the resolution’s main sponsor, underlined that the border dispute remained and the United Nations was withdrawing without having been able to assist Ethiopia and Eritrea. Neither the good offices of the Secretary-General nor constructive proposals by Council members had been able to achieve their objectives. “The work of UNMEE is coming to an end -- not because its mandate has been implemented, but because it has become impossible for [the Mission] to implement it.”
Recalling that Eritrea had restricted the Mission’s freedom of movement to the point of leaving the buffer zone it was supposed to monitor, he said its mandate had also been restricted by Ethiopia’s refusal to implement the decision of the Boundary Commission. “The responsibility for the current impasse falls on the parties and on the parties alone.” Only they could now decide to exit the vicious cycle by choosing the path of dialogue, and the international community remained ready to assist them. Belgium, like most other members of the Council, would have preferred to maintain a United Nations presence on the ground as a tangible symbol of its preparedness to seek a lasting solution, but the two countries were refusing its presence. It was to be hoped that once tension around UNMEE and its future had settled, a climate more conducive to dialogue would emerge.
In other business today, the Council paid tribute to Marcello Spatafora, outgoing Permanent Representative of Italy, who said after accepting the Council President’s best wishes, that his experience had been “very rewarding”. While there had been many positive achievements during his tenure, there had also been frustrations, especially those arising from lack of success in meeting the expectations of the suffering on the ground. Indeed, there were ever increasing calls for a more effective Security Council. To answer that call, the Council must strengthen its “listening culture”. It must be more open and receptive to the feelings and values prevailing among the wider United Nations membership and the overall international community.
He went on to say that the Council must work harder to inspire the broader international community’s ownership in its proceedings. Without such a feeling of ownership, it would be difficult at the end of the day to ensure implementation and compliance. Further, Council members must make every possible effort to understand each other, which was a sign of strength, not weakness. The Council must never lose sight of the fact that, at the end of the day, its goal was to make a difference on the ground. At stake was the Council’s credibility and relevance.
The meeting began at 10:20 a.m. and ended at 10:40 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1827 (2008) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming all its previous resolutions and statements of its President pertaining to the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea,
“Stressing once again its unwavering commitment to the peace process and to the full and expeditious implementation of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities of 18 June 2000 (S/2000/601) and the Peace Agreement of 12 December 2000 (S/2000/1183) (hereinafter referred to as “the Algiers Agreements”) as a basis for peaceful and cooperative relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea,
“Considering that Ethiopia and Eritrea bear a shared responsibility in the implementation of the Algiers Agreements, in which they agreed that the delimitation and demarcation determinations of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) shall be final and binding and that their forces shall respect the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ),
“Reaffirming that the primary responsibility for achieving a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the border dispute and normalizing their relations rests with Ethiopia and Eritrea, and that the Security Council stands ready to assist them in addressing the underlying fundamental issues, taking into account the interests and concerns of both countries,
“Regretting that Eritrea’s obstructions towards the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) reached a level so as to undermine the basis of the Mission’s mandate and compelled UNMEE to temporarily relocate from Eritrea, stressing that this relocation was without prejudice to the Algiers Agreements and to the integrity of the TSZ, and recalling the Security Council’s previous condemnation of Eritrea’s lack of cooperation,
“Commending the efforts made by UNMEE and its military and civilian personnel to accomplish its duties, despite the difficult circumstances, and expressing its deep appreciation for the contribution and dedication of the troop-contributing countries to the work of UNMEE,
“Having considered the special report of the Secretary-General of 7 April 2008 (S/2008/226), the letters from Ethiopia and Eritrea dated respectively 17 and 18 June 2008, in response to the letters of the President of the Security Council of 10 June 2008, and the letter from the Secretary-General of 28 July 2008 (S/2008/496), in response to the letter of the President of the Security Council of 3 July 2008,
“1. Decides to terminate UNMEE’s mandate effective on 31 July 2008, emphasizes that this termination is without prejudice to Ethiopia and Eritrea’s obligations under the Algiers Agreements and calls upon both countries to cooperate fully with the United Nations including in the process of liquidation of UNMEE;
“2. Demands Ethiopia and Eritrea to comply fully with their obligations under the Algiers Agreements, to show maximum restraint and refrain from any threat or use of force against each other, and to avoid provocative military activities;
“3. Strongly supports the ongoing efforts by the Secretary-General and the international community to engage with Ethiopia and Eritrea to help them to implement the Algiers Agreements, to normalize their relations, to promote stability between them, and to lay the foundation for a comprehensive and lasting peace between them, and urges again Ethiopia and Eritrea to accept the Secretary-General’s good offices;
“4. Requests the Secretary-General to further explore with Ethiopia and Eritrea the possibility of a United Nations presence in Ethiopia and Eritrea in the context of the maintenance of international peace and security;
“5. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Council regularly informed ofthe situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea and to make recommendations as appropriate;
“6. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”
* *** *For information media • not an official record