SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDS IMMEDIATE HALT TO HOSTILITIES BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA

10 February 1999
SC/6640

SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDS IMMEDIATE HALT TO HOSTILITIES BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA

10 February 1999

Press ReleaseSC/6640

SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDS IMMEDIATE HALT TO HOSTILITIES BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA

19990210 Resolution 1227 (1999), Adopted Unanimously, Urges States To End Sales of Arms, Munitions to Both Countries

The Security Council this afternoon demanded an immediate halt to the hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea, in particular the use of air strikes, and a resumption of diplomatic efforts by both parties to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. Adopting resolution 1227 (1999) unanimously, the Council condemned the use of force in the conflict and stressed that the Framework Agreement, approved by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on 17 December 1998, remained a viable and sound basis for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. It strongly urged all States to immediately end all sales of arms and munitions to the two countries. The Council expressed full support for the OAU, the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for Africa, Mohamed Sahnoun, and concerned Member States in their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the current hostilities. It called upon Ethiopia and Eritrea to ensure the safety of civilian populations and to respect human rights and international humanitarian law. The representative of Ethiopia told the Council that rather than try to resolve the conflict peacefully, Eritrea used provocative military actions to divert attention from the core issue -- the need for Eritrea to withdraw from Ethiopia. His Government had sought a diplomatic solution to the crisis and had accepted peace proposals, but Eritrea had rejected virtually all peace proposals and created confusion by pretending to remain engaged in the OAU process. As for the Council's resolution, he had strong reservations about the call for an end to arms sales to both countries, which placed the victim and the aggressor on the same footing. Eritrea's representative said his country had consistently called for a renunciation of force, a commitment to a peaceful, legal solution and a ceasefire. Such calls, repeated by the international community, had been rejected by Ethiopia. He urged the Council to note Ethiopia's responsibility for the start and escalation of the conflict and to act appropriately. At the behest of its President, the Council observed a minute's silence at the outset of the meeting in tribute to the memory of King Hussein. The meeting, which began at 4:15 p.m., was adjourned at 4:35 p.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

The Council had before it a draft resolution (document S/1999/133), which reads as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Reaffirming its resolutions 1177 (1998) of 26 June 1998 and 1226 (1999) of 29 January 1999,

"Expressing its grave concern regarding the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the resumption of hostilities between the parties,

"Recalling the commitment of Ethiopia and Eritrea to a moratorium on the threat of and use of air strikes,

"Stressing that the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea constitutes a threat to peace and security,

"1. Condemns the recourse to the use of force by Ethiopia and Eritrea;

"2. Demands an immediate halt to the hostilities, in particular the use of air strikes;

"3. Demands that Ethiopia and Eritrea resume diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict;

"4. Stresses that the Framework Agreement as approved by the Central Organ Summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, and Resolution on 17 December 1998 (S/1998/1223, annex) remains a viable and sound basis for a peaceful resolution of the conflict;

"5. Expresses its full support for the efforts of the OAU, the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for Africa, and concerned Member States to find a peaceful resolution to the present hostilities;

"6. Calls upon Ethiopia and Eritrea to ensure the safety of the civilian population and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law;

"7. Strongly urges all States to end immediately all sales of arms and munitions to Ethiopia and Eritrea;

"8. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

Security Council - 3 - Press Release SC/6640 3975th Meeting (PM) 10 February 1999

Statements

The President of the Security Council, ROBERT FOWLER (Canada), said he would like to express profound grief and sorrow at the death of King Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. King Hussein's entire life was dedicated to a devoted service to his country and tireless search for peace, stability and understanding in the Middle East. His loss would be greatly felt. On behalf of the Council, he conveyed to King Abdullah, the bereaved family and the people of Jordan, the Council's profound condolences.

The Council then observed a moment of silence in tribute to the memory of King Hussein.

DURI MOHAMMED (Ethiopia) said it had been almost nine months since Eritrea began its aggression against Ethiopia. Ethiopia chose to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis and it had accepted proposals aimed at resolving it peacefully. Eritrea, however, had rejected virtually all peace proposals and continued to create confusion by pretending to remain engaged in the Organization of African Unity (OAU) process.

In the past nine months, there had never been a single occasion where Eritrea tried to resolve the conflict peacefully with Ethiopia, he continued. Instead, Eritrea had turned to provocative military actions to divert the attention of the international community from addressing the core issue -- that was Eritrea's withdrawal from Ethiopia. Eritrea undertook bombings even while the Secretary-General's Special Envoy was visiting the region to try to negotiate a peace agreement. The Ethiopian Government had no other option but to exercise its legitimate right of self-defence.

He welcomed the present resolution, with its call for Eritrea to abide by the OAU Framework Agreement. He also welcomed the resolution's call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. He had strong reservations, however, on operative paragraph 7 of the draft, which strongly urged all States to end arms sales to both countries. Ethiopia was engaged only in its legitimate right to self-defence. That provision in the draft only served to place the victim and the aggressor on the same footing. A similar decision was taken years ago, when an arms embargo was placed on Italy, as well as Ethiopia, when Council knew that Italy was the aggressor. To halt the source of arms for one country, when the source of arms for the other remained intact, only punished the law abider. Ethiopia was a land-locked country, while Eritrea had a long coast line. It was obvious which country could continue to import arms. That paragraph unfairly damaged Ethiopia.

HAILE MENKERIOS (Eritrea) said his Government appreciated the serious concern of the Council and the dangerous level to which the conflict had been escalated to by the Ethiopian Government. It welcomed the Council's decision to be actively seized of the issue. Eritrea had previously presented its

Security Council - 4 - Press Release SC/6640 3975th Meeting (PM) 10 February 1999

considered reaction to the Council's last resolution. The concerns Eritrea raised then had come to pass. Ethiopia had broken the de facto truce that had existed since June and started an all-out offensive.

The Council knew that Eritrea had consistently called for a renunciation of the threat and use of force, for a firm irreversible commitment to a peaceful legal solution and for a binding ceasefire, he continued. Such calls had been repeated by the international community. Ethiopia had rejected them. Despite constant threats, Eritrea would never shoot unless shot at. It had been shot at and forced to defend itself. Ethiopia had hidden its intentions form the Council. Ethiopia's Parliament had issued a standing declaration that if Eritrea did not unilaterally and unconditionally withdraw from its own territory -- which Ethiopia claimed -- then Ethiopia would make it do so by the use of force. Consistent with that, Ethiopia escalated a border skirmish to all-out war.

He was convinced the Council knew that Ethiopia had started the offensive, he said. United States President William Clinton himself had clearly indicated that Ethiopia had violated the moratorium on air strikes. Independent witnesses confirmed Ethiopian bombing of civilian targets. The danger Ethiopia's war posed for the security of the region could not escape the Council. If the Council failed to condemn Ethiopia, it would encourage Ethiopia to continue on its war path and would then have to share the responsibility for the consequences. Eritrea urged the Council to note Ethiopia's responsibility for the start and escalation of the conflict and to act appropriately.

The Council then adopted Security Council resolution 1227 (1999) unanimously.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.