Secretary-General sets out four options for UN mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea

UNMEE peacekeepers

11 April 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has outlined four options for the future of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), including the possibility of axing the mission, because of restrictions imposed by Eritrea on its side of the disputed border.

In a special report on UNMEE, released today, Mr. Ban warns that none of the options are ideal as they all bear serious risks and would not resolve the impasse created by the Eritrean restrictions. Ending the mission could result in a return to open hostilities, for example, he says.

“Yet the prevailing circumstances seriously limit the available courses of action,” the Secretary-General writes.

One option is for the mission to resume unchanged, so long as Eritrea lifts all restrictions, resumes fuel supplies to UNMEE and allows it to perform the tasks envisaged in the cessation of hostilities agreement in 2000 that ended the last border war.

A second option is to terminate the mission altogether, while another option would be to deploy a small observer mission to only the border area to try to defuse tensions between the armed forces of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The final option would be to set up liaison offices in the two capitals, Addis Ababa and Asmara, to allow the UN to remain ready to help the parties implement their peace agreement from 2000, including the demarcation of the border.

Mr. Ban outlines the advantages and disadvantages of all the options, and calls on Security Council members to decide as quickly as possible on the best way to go forward.

He also urges Ethiopia and Eritrea, “in the interest of regional peace and security, to take into account the serious consequences of the continued stalemate and accept the assistance of the Security Council and my good offices in fully implementing the agreements they have entered into.”

Mr. Ban says he will submit a further report to the Council before 31 July, when the current mandate of UNMEE is due to expire, detailing his ongoing consultations with all the parties.

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