SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS CALLS FOR SPEEDY PEACEKEEPER DEPLOYMENT, 'SELF-SUSTAINING' PEACE IN EHTIOPIA/ERITREA
SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS CALLS FOR SPEEDY PEACEKEEPER DEPLOYMENT, 'SELF-SUSTAINING' PEACE IN EHTIOPIA/ERITREA
SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS CALLS FOR SPEEDY PEACEKEEPER DEPLOYMENT, 'SELF-SUSTAINING' PEACE IN EHTIOPIA/ERITREA20000814
The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bernard Miyet, this morning briefed the Security Council on the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea and introduced the latest report of the Secretary-General on the problem.
During the briefing, the representative of Eritrea said his delegation would like to have seen a more balanced text in the report on humanitarian developments. The reporting of those developments in the two countries was not parallel. "We consider the omission from the report of the 71,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin that have been expelled from Ethiopia; the civilian casualties; and the deliberate destruction of social and economic infrastructure by the Ethiopian army, significant", he stressed.
He said the expansion of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), however, was critical to the ongoing peace process, and he appealed to the Council to adopt the report. The peoples of his country and Ethiopia were both looking to the Council for a swift decision and speedy and effective deployment of the Mission. He hoped the Council would not fail them.
Ethiopia's representative said his delegation was satisfied with the main tenets of the Secretary-General's report. The day-to-day running of the peacekeeping mission, however, had to be further worked out. He hoped that the Council would act soon in deploying a peacekeeping force. Based on what had been said today, it seemed that "we chose to go to war because we wanted to". His delegation shared the view, however, that the war should not have happened. While his country had been the victim of flagrant aggression, its Government and people had given their best in an attempt to end the conflict.
He said the current conflict was a blatant war of aggression initiated by Eritrea. Since the signing of the 18 June Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, Ethiopia had strictly adhered to the conditions. Unfortunately, in carrying out those conditions it had once more been without a partner. Also, allegations made against his country by Eritrea were blatant lies. His Government looked forward to the deployment of the Mission and had begun to coordinate a number of related activities in the country.
The representative of the United States said the challenge for Ethiopia and Eritrea would now be to determine what type of border they wanted. The two nations could easily have a green line, with concertina wire backed by a military
Security Council - 1a - Press Release SC/6911 4187th Meeting (AM) 14 August 2000
force -- nothing more than a physical separation. But that was not what the Council should seek. The Governments of both nations were urged to turn to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) for a model of integration based on the free flow of people, goods and ideas.
She said while the search for better bilateral relations went on forever, the presence of United Nations peacekeepers should not. The Council should ensure that peacekeepers provided the catalyst for progress and not a justification for inaction on the political front. The Council must press for an agreement on the delimitation and demarcation of the common border as a critical component to a comprehensive peace agreement. That element would be essential if the peace between those two formerly warring neighbours was to be self-sustaining and beneficial to the people of both countries.
Ukraine's representative also expressed concern that the recent round of proximity talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea had been suspended, and that no official statement on the outcome had been released.
Tunisia's representative said that building peace in the region could not be considered a success without a solution to the dire humanitarian situation. The international community must show solidarity with both Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as United Nations bodies, in order to provide a solution to that urgent situation. She also urged both parties to continue cooperation and proximity talks on delimitation and demarcation.
The representative of Norway said the Organization of African Unity (OAU) deserved credit for the great efforts it had made to facilitate a solution to the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of Namibia, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Jamaica, Argentina, Mali, China, Canada, Bangladesh, Malaysia, France (on behalf of the European Union), and Japan.
The meeting began at 10:40 a.m. and was adjourned at 12:59 a.m.
Council Work Programme
When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it a report of the Secretary-General on Ethiopia and Eritrea (document S/2000/785), submitted pursuant to Council resolution 1312 (2000) of 31 July, in which the Council authorized the establishment of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).
Fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted in May 1998, as a result of a border dispute. At the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit in Algiers in July 1999, the two parties accepted a document - the Modalities for the Implementation of the OAU Framework Agreement. In that document, Eritrea committed itself to redeploy its forces outside the territories they occupied after 6 May 1998. Ethiopia committed itself to redeploy, thereafter, its forces from positions taken after 6 February and which were not under Ethiopian administration before 6 May 1998.
After further consultations with the parties concerned, the OAU and United States reviewed and finalized a document entitled: Technical Arrangements for the Implementation of the OAU Framework Agreement and Its Modalities. The document called for the establishment of a neutral commission to determine the precise areas from which the two sides were to redeploy. The Technical Arrangements provided for the deployment of military observers to verify the envisaged redeployments.
The document also called for demilitarization and delimitation of the entire common border between the two countries. Eritrea announced its acceptance of the document. Ethiopia reserved its position and requested clarifications, while reaffirming its commitment to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Despite all efforts, however, the fighting between Eritrea and Ethiopia erupted again on 12 May 2000.
By its resolution 1297, adopted on the same day, the Security Council expressed its concern with the renewed fighting and noted that the new outbreak of violence had a serious humanitarian implication for the civilian population of both countries. The Secretary-General issued a statement deeply deploring the resumption of large-scale fighting. He urgently appealed to both countries to cease hostilities immediately and to return to the process of negotiation.
On 17 May 2000, the Council adopted resolution 1298, by which it imposed measures aimed at preventing the supply of weapons or arms-related assistance to the two countries. The Council demanded the earliest possible reconvening, without preconditions, of substantive peace talks, under the auspices of the OAU, on the basis of the Framework Agreement and Its Modalities.
As of March 2000, it was estimated that over 370,000 Eritreans and approximately 350,000 Ethiopians had been affected by the war. The humanitarian situation in parts of Ethiopia was exacerbated by the severe drought, which led to the emergence of a major food crisis with almost 8 million people affected. With the resumption of fighting between Ethiopia and Eritrea in May 2000, the situation in the region has become even more critical.
Report of Secretary-General
The report reflects the findings of the reconnaissance mission which was dispatched to the region, led by Major-General Timothy Ford of Australia, to discuss with the OAU and the parties the modalities of possible United Nations assistance for the implementation of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea in Algiers on 18 June 2000 [see document S/2000/601]. It provides a concept of operations and recommendations for the expansion of UNMEE and an update on political and humanitarian developments.
Concerning the humanitarian situation, the report notes that in Eritrea the number of internally displaced persons had grown to more than 1.1 million in June 2000, and was placing a tremendous burden on socio-economic mechanisms. Furthermore, 94,000 Eritreans had sought refuge in the Sudan since May 2000. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Governments of the Sudan and Eritrea signed a tripartite agreement on 4 July 2000 for the voluntary repatriation of Eritrean refugees. Immediate return for many is impossible as a result of the destruction of homes, basic infrastructure, loss of crops and household assets, lack of social services and the presence of landmines.
Only 39.2 per cent of the January 2000 United Nations country team appeal was funded as of 1 July 2000. The prospect that relief food stocks will run out by September 2000 is a cause of major concern, according to the report.
In Ethiopia, the severe drought has caused significant migrations, increased malnutrition, large livestock losses, a higher incidence of diseases and an increase in the overall vulnerability of the rural population. As of early July 2000, the Government of Ethiopia estimated that over 10 million people were in need of emergency food assistance.
The report notes that the renewed hostilities in May 2000 generated three new categories of vulnerable people in need of humanitarian assistance: Ethiopian nationals separated from their homes in Ethiopia during the war who moved to displaced persons camps in Eritrea; Ethiopian nationals resident in Eritrea prior to May 2000 who are being repatriated to Tigray; and Eritrean and other third- country nationals who have sought asylum in Ethiopia as refugees.
The deployment of military observers, administrative support and other civilian personnel authorized under Council resolution 1312 (2000) will begin shortly. The mandate of the expanded UNMEE would be to:
-- Monitor the cessation of hostilities;
-- Assist in ensuring the observance of the security commitments agreed by the parties;
-- Monitor and verify the redeployment of Ethiopian forces from positions taken after 6 February 1999, which were not under Ethiopian administration before 6 May 1998;
-- Monitor the positions of Ethiopian forces once redeployed;
-- Monitor the positions of Eritrean forces that are to remain at a distance of 25 kilometres from positions to which Ethiopian forces shall redeploy;
-- Monitor the temporary security zone to assist in ensuring compliance with the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities;
-- Chair the Military Coordination Commission to be established in accordance with the Agreement;
-- Coordinate and provide technical assistance for humanitarian mine-action activities in the temporary security zone and areas adjacent to it; and
-- Coordinate the peacekeeping mission's activities in the temporary security zone and areas adjacent to it with humanitarian activities in those areas.
The report states that given the difficult terrain and weather conditions, the significant length of the temporary security zone from East to West and the requirement that the parties be confident that the area is effectively monitored, a combination of military observers and formed troops would be required to carry out the mission's task. It is estimated that UNMEE would require a total military strength of 4,200 personnel, including 220 military observers, three infantry battalions and the necessary support units.
Freedom of movement would be essential for the successful implementation of the UNMEE mandate, the report continues. It has been agreed that UNMEE would have access to the military establishments of both parties at all levels from the capitals to the field. Freedom of movement must also include free and direct land and air passage across the lines of the temporary security zone. Eritrea is to restore civilian administration, including police and local militia, in the temporary security zone.
The presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance poses a significant risk throughout the conflict area. In concert with the peacekeeping operation, the United Nations Mine-Action Service (UNMAS) is, therefore, preparing a mine-action assistance programme to help mitigate the threat posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance.
The report concludes that to date the parties have shown the commitment required to ensure the implementation of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities. The people of Ethiopia and Eritrea have suffered terrible losses during two years of war. Their Governments have now shown the commitment to create conditions for peace and prosperity. It is only the parties themselves who can bring lasting peace to their countries.
Report of Secretary-General
Bernard Miyet, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, introducing the report of the Secretary-General, drew attention to the political and humanitarian situations in Ethiopia and Eritrea as outlined in the report (for details, see background note).
He said it would be essential to dispatch a mine-clearance team to the region as early as possible. Last week, he wrote a letter to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of both countries in an effort to speed up the deployment of that team. The United Nations Mission should also be headed by a special representative of the Secretary-General, and must be made up of a number of components specializing in the political, military and administrative domains, as well as in mine clearance. The Mission would operate in the temporary security zone and in special areas.
The United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) were to establish a military coordination commission to coordinate and resolve questions related to implementation of the mandate of the Mission. It was important for that mission to be set up as early as possible.
He welcomed the decision taken by the OAU at the Lomé Summit to call on the President of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to continue efforts to bring about a durable peace. The United Nations and the Secretary-General had successfully supported such mediation efforts. He also called on both countries to fulfil their obligations and cooperate fully and actively with the Mission. It was also up to both parties to ensure that the temporary security zone was effective.
NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said that, following a horrific price, the guns had fallen silent and the challenge for Ethiopia and Eritrea would now be to determine what type of border they wanted. The two nations could easily have a green line, with concertina wire backed by a military force -- nothing more than a physical separation. But that was not what the Council should seek.
While complete division was certainly better than a resumption of conflict, she continued, such a conclusion might squander a unique opportunity. In that regard, the Governments of both nations were urged to turn to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) model of integration based on the free flow of people, goods and ideas. Ethiopia and Eritrea were unique national entities which, nonetheless, shared a range of common historical experiences. The two countries must develop a sophisticated bilateral relationship based on interdependence and a common agenda for prosperity.
She went on to say that the Council had an institutional concern, as well. Blue helmets should not be viewed as a substitute for comprehensive peace agreements; they should be seen as the creators of the opportunity to achieve peace based on shared values, shared cultures, shared borders and shared aspirations. The growing United Nations presence in the regions should calm tensions and create an enabling environment for the search for durable solutions.
The search for better bilateral relations went on forever, she said, but the presence of United Nations peacekeepers should not. The Council should ensure that peacekeepers provide the catalyst for progress and not a justification for inaction on the political front. It was also important to note that her delegation had a continuing concern for the humanitarian situation in the region, and she urged the Governments to continue cooperation with the United Nations efforts in that regard. Finally, she said that the Council must press for an agreement on the delimitation and demarcation of the common border as a critical component to a comprehensive peace agreement. That element would be essential if the peace between those two formerly warring neighbours was to be self-sustaining and beneficial to the people of both countries. It was hoped that both Governments would also turn their attentions to the genuine needs of the people: health, education, food security, jobs and housing.
MARTIN ANDJABA (Namibia) said that the 18 June signing of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities between the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea had been a major step towards peaceful resolution of the conflict. He called on the parties to continue to demonstrate their commitment in good faith for the sake of peace, development and prosperity, not only for the two nations, but also for Africa as a whole. He welcomed the holding of proximity talks in Washington last month on the outstanding issues of delimitation of the border and compensation.
With regard to the humanitarian situation, he urged the international community to provide generous financial assistance, either bilaterally or through United Nations country teams, to enable the Governments to cope with the consequences of war and drought. Landmines and other unexploded ordnance were also of great concern, as they were a major impediment to resettlement activities. He called upon the international community to provide technical assistance to the countries concerned to successfully conduct their mine-clearance activities.
Finally, he said that his delegation welcomed the well-defined coordination between the United Nations and the OAU in carrying out the tasks contained in the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities. The United Nations and the OAU should indeed work together in the areas of consultation, exchange of information and coordination of joint action, with a view to successful implementation of the Agreement. He also welcomed the understanding between the two organizations that each would maintain its separate identity in that exercise, including sources of funding, but warned that successful peacemaking would depend upon the capacity for sustained support and assistance.
ANDREI E. GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said it was important that the detailed proposals on peacekeeping operations contained in the Secretary-General's report were based on the 18 June Algiers Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities and the conclusions of the United Nations reconnaissance mission to the region. The present deployment of the Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea and its later transformation into a full-scale peacekeeping mission were important preconditions for implementation of agreements by the parties to the conflict.
He said he believed that the work of the United Nations observers -- with constructive support from the relevant authorities and the host parties -- would help to deal with the conflict dividing the two States. The only way to achieve a breakthrough was through the use of political frameworks and observing the standards of international law.
It was particularly important, he said, that there should be no counterproductive actions that might undermine efforts to normalize the climate in the conflict zone. Both parties must show maximum restraint and political will. They must also establish a climate of mutual trust. His delegation shared the Secretary-Generals concern at the serious humanitarian consequences of the conflict. He stressed that effectively tackling humanitarian problems in the conflict zones required prioritizing them for the international donor community. The Russian Federation would continue its active support for efforts to establish lasting peace in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom) said his delegation fully shared the views shortly to be expressed by France, which currently held the presidency of the European Union. The fighting in Ethiopia and Eritrea must rank high on the list of totally avoidable conflicts. The findings of the reconnaissance team would be the basis of major work to be undertaken in both countries. Negotiations also had to continue between the two parties if lasting peace and economic development were to take place.
He said the Secretary-Generals account of the humanitarian situation made chilling reading. All efforts must continue towards securing a lasting peace. It was also essential for both parties to maintain the ceasefire agreements. He hoped the 100 military observers would be deployed soon. That deployment, however, could not be an excuse for inaction on the political front. The swift demarcation and delimitation of the border between the two countries would be an important step in the overall peace process. The ban on arms sale to the two States was a further step forward.
PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said that while the international community was grateful that Ethiopia and Eritrea had signed the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and that the parties had shown the commitment required to ensure the implementation of that agreement, it should also be understood that this constituted merely a first step in the peace process. It was the depth of continuing commitment to real peace on the part of both countries that would determine the success or failure of the operation the Secretary-General had invited the Council to support.
In that respect, he continued, much more needed to be done. Both countries now had it in their power to take concrete steps to restore confidence between them. One such step would be to put an end to mutual recriminations and propaganda, and begin treating each other humanely as nationals. To that end, he endorsed the Secretary-General's appeal to both nations to sustain the political will they had displayed in concluding the Agreement, but it was clear that the real test of political will would be revealed in the progress of ongoing proximity talks. If the Council was expected to pronounce itself on the issue, more information would have to made available than had been included in the current report.
Indeed it was the report's brief summary, he said, that gave rise to several other questions. While the Agreement presupposed that the United Nations peacekeeping mission would terminate with the successful conclusion of the delimitation and demarcation of the border, how exactly would compensation come into play? What kind of claims, and whose claims would be compensated?
Another question revolved around the issue of the arms embargo established by resolution 1298, adopted by the Council on 17 May. As long as a final peace agreement had not been concluded between Ethiopia and Eritrea, he said, the international community should remain vigilant that the current peace process was not endangered by illegal arms supplies. The resolution requested United Nations agencies and other bodies to report violations to the Sanctions Committee. He wondered whether UNMEE was supposed to report on possible violations whenever the Mission was apprised of them.
CURTIS WARD (Jamaica) said that the Councils current debate was a timely response to the signing of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities between Ethiopia and Eritrea. It provided the opportunity to give expression to the political will of the international community to support peacemaking efforts under way in that region. The debate also provided an opportunity to speak openly about commitments to peace and the horrors of a conflict that, in his opinion, could have been avoided.
He went on to note his delegations concern for the grave humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea. The international community should act quickly to ameliorate the consequences of that human tragedy. In that regard, it could not be overemphasized how important it was for the Council to "get it right" today. The lives of millions depended on it.
The Council's actions must be clear and unequivocal, he said, as the international community was prepared to fully support the continuation of the peace process within the region. But it was important to note that the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea must also play a role: their future was, for the most part, in their own hands. People within the region must continue to work towards peaceful conflict settlement under the guidelines already set forth by the United Nations and the OAU.
LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said the United Nations force should be dispatched to the field without further delay, because timing was the key factor. It was important to remember that this was a classical peacekeeping operation between regular armies, as distinct from other operations currently being undertaken by the United Nations in Africa.
The Mission itself should have a single chain of command, he said. Its mandate should also have a clear and precise time frame to prevent any protracted involvement. It was also vital that the Mission should move quickly forward in the work of demining which was a priority. He expressed serious concern at the humanitarian situation afflicting both countries and urged the international community to mobilize all possible assistance to alleviate the effects of the crisis.
He said his country favoured a phased deployed of the Mission. Prompt implementation of the ceasefire agreements was also of concern to the United Nations, and a task for which both parties to the conflict were responsible.
SEKOU KASSE (Mali) said his country welcomed the 18 June peace agreements. He hoped to see military and civilian support staff go into the field as soon as possible. Mali was concerned at the dramatic humanitarian situation, and called on the international community to respond positively to the crisis before it worsened. His delegation called on both parties to show restraint before demarcation and to allow mine clearance to take place. He further called on the OAU and the United Nations to continue their efforts to establish a lasting peace.
CHEN XU (China) said that since the signing of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities, Ethiopia and Eritrea had demonstrated the political momentum that would ensure progress towards a complete and satisfactory conclusion to the continued conflict in the region. The energetic support of those efforts by the international community was also a sign of overall willingness to move forward.
In that regard, he continued, the effective implementation of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report would facilitate reconciliation as well as peace and stability in the Horn of Africa. It was hoped then that the Council would, on the basis of broad consultations, reach an early decision on the number of personnel assigned to the Mission, as well as its mandate. It was also hoped that the Secretariat would engage in early research on troop supplies and resources, and other preparatory work.
Finally, his delegation was deeply concerned at the grave humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea. He was very appreciative of the work of United Nations agencies and other actors in that area. He called on the international community to step up humanitarian efforts and to contribute even more to reversing the devastating results of the continued conflict.
RADHIA ACHOURI (Tunisia) said that her delegation was encouraged that Ethiopia and Eritrea were seeking a lasting peace. The international community should also be encouraged by the efforts of all parties concerned, particularly the actions of the Security Council which had taken an active role in promoting peaceful settlement of the ongoing dispute. The Council should, therefore, authorize deployment of the United Nations Mission as early as possible.
Of the proposed Mission, she said that it was of key importance to make available all the necessary equipment and manpower required to do the job effectively. It was also important for the United Nations and the international community to support mine-clearance programmes and ensure that they be implemented as a priority given, the dangers that the presence of mines posed for civilian populations, as well as the hurdles they presented to resettlement activities.
Finally, she said that building peace in the region could not be considered a success without a solution to the dire humanitarian situation. The international community must show solidarity with both Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as United Nations organizations in order to provide a solution to that urgent situation. She went on to urge both parties to continue cooperation and proximity talks on delimitation and demarcation.
VALERI P. KUCHYNSKI (Ukraine) expressed concern that the recent round of proximity talks had been suspended and that no official statement on the outcome had been released. He called on both parties to the conflict to exercise restraint, abstain from provocative actions and cooperate fully with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate. Hopefully, after the demarcation and delimitation process, the Mission could be withdrawn since its term was not indefinite.
He believed that it would be useful for the Council to study the findings of the reconnaissance mission and that it might also be expedient for Major General Timothy Ford, the Mission leader, to brief the Council about his views on the situation on the ground. Stressing that the refugee situation was critical, he also reiterated his country's support for the relevant observations and recommendations contained in the report of the Secretary-General. He said that securing a lasting peace must be established by the parties to the conflict, and that UNMEE was only an initial instrument in achieving that peace.
MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said it was up to the Council to back up what had been achieved to date with the rapid deployment of an effective mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Reconnaissance missions should be sent before the establishment of any peacekeeping operation, he stressed. Furthermore, the personnel on such missions should be in place whenever the Security Council discussed the establishment of a peacekeeping operation.
He said the complex needs of the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea would require the substantial deployment of political, human, economic and development resources. The presence of public information and mine-action components in the Mission would also make an important contribution to protecting citizens from fear and harm. The burden of success and failure, however, rested with both parties to the conflict. They were duty-bound to end a senseless conflict that had killed hundreds of thousands. They must also observe the various conventions on human rights, he added.
ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) noted with appreciation the importance the Secretary-General's report placed on coordinating United Nations peace operations in the Ethiopia-Eritrea region with the humanitarian community. He also praised civil-military coordination. A mission planned in keeping with the elements contained in relevant Council resolutions and presidential statements, including those relating to protection of civilians, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, would certainly mark a significant improvement in United Nations peacekeeping.
Of particular importance was coordination with the OAU, the guarantor of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. It was hoped that the OAU would ensure effective coordination and consultations with the United Nations. While the Council's speedy authorization of the deployment of a mission to the region was necessary, it was important that the Secretariat complete the mission planning process for an early deployment.
He said that the international community needed to respond with greater urgency and attention to the immediate humanitarian needs of the war-affected people in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Special attention should be given to the drought- stricken population of Ethiopia. He called upon the donor community to respond with "greater generosity" in its response to the July 2000 revised appeal.
Finally, he called upon Ethiopia and Eritrea to make serious efforts at an early implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. He encouraged them to go "beyond the bonds of friendship and cooperation." The two countries were neighbours with a long-shared history, and it was hoped that they could soon be seen as two friendly, prosperous peoples in the comity of nations.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, stressed the Councils responsibility to assist the two countries in creating the conditions for lasting peace and stability - it must act quickly and decisively and not let momentum slide. In that regard, the adoption of resolution 1312 (2000) authorizing the set-up of UNMEE had been a critical step. He supported the three-phased approach outline for the Mission and welcomed the early dispatch of liaison officers to both capitals. Malaysia would participate constructively in the Councils consideration of the proposed expansion of UNMEEs mandate and personnel, as outlined in paragraph 15 of the Secretary-Generals report.
Lessons should be drawn from peacekeeping experiences in other parts of Africa, he said. The Mission should have efficient and effective communications and well trained and well equipped personnel to ensure success. His delegation looked forward to the appointment of a special representative to head the Mission, and stressed the need to maintain close contacts and cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU and the political and military leadership of both countries.
He commended the parties continued commitment to the implementation of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities and urged them to continue their proximity talks leading to an early agreement on the modalities that would pave the way for the rapid delimitation and demarcation of their common border. He supported the question posed by the representative of the Netherlands on whether UNMEE was supposed to report on possible violations of sanctions whenever they came to its knowledge.
YVES DOUTRIAUX (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the recommendations made by the Secretary-General for a mission in the Ethiopia- Eritrea region. He also welcomed the inclusion of mechanisms for the mission's structure and mandate, as well as for the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons. Those actions could be considered a basis on which to monitor and promote the peace process within the region.
Turning to the role that Ethiopia and Eritrea should play in the ongoing search for a lasting peace, he welcomed the current climate of cooperation that had followed the signing of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities. He called upon both nations to continue such endeavours. In that regard, it was also important to continue proximity talks between the two countries.
He went on to say that the European Union supported and encouraged the continued cooperation between the OAU and the United Nations. Such cooperation would certainly bring about an early resumption of the proximity talks. He also highlighted the necessity of allowing freedom of movement of all United Nations personnel, as well as providing all international actors, within and outside the United Nations community, with relevant information on the location of landmines and unexploded ordnance.
He went on to highlight the fact that the grave humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea had been exacerbated by persistent drought in the region. The European Union also wished to draw special attention to the situation of internally displaced persons and refugees. The United Nations, Ethiopia and Eritrea must cooperate closely to address those situations as quickly and effectively as possible. In that regard, it was hoped that the Council would take action on the Secretary-General's recommendations for early implementation of the Mission in the region.
HIDEAKI KOBAYASHI (Japan) emphasized the need for a decision on the deployment of mine-action experts as soon as possible. Demining was a precondition for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission, the re-establishment of civilian administration and the return of displaced persons. Japan was considering the possibility of contributing financially to United Nations mine actions in the area.
He said the parties should resolve once and for all the dispute over the delimitation and demarcation of their common border, in accordance with the OAU Framework Agreement and the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Resolution of that issue should not remain inconclusive, since it had been a cause of the conflict and could provoke hostilities again.
The two countries would have to confront a wide range of problems in the aftermath of the conflict, he said, including those relating to landmines, refugees and internally displaced persons, not to mention the daunting task of reconstruction and development. Upon the faithful implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and the realization of peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Japan was determined to extend as much assistance as possible to both countries.
HANS BRATTSKAR (Norway) said the United Nations peacekeeping operation would be a crucial element in the international community's efforts to create a stable security environment in the Horn of Africa. For the operation to succeed, all Member States of the United Nations must take up their responsibilities in that regard. Norway was prepared to contribute military observers to the operation.
The OAU deserved credit for the great efforts it had made to facilitate a solution to the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, he said. The Norwegian Government had, for many years, been a strong supporter of the OAU's work and continued to provide financial support to the organization. Norway especially appreciated the OAU's emphasis on conflict prevention.
However, he said, it was important that both Ethiopia and Eritrea fully respect the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and honour their commitments so that the Agreement could lead to a comprehensive peace settlement in the region. For that to materialize, both countries must refrain from any actions that might be interpreted as provocations or violations of the ceasefire. Talks must continue between the two countries on all unresolved issues.
TESFA ALEM SEYOUM (Eritrea) said the Council was considering the report of the Secretary-General at a time when a vast tract of his country's sovereign territory had been invaded and occupied by Ethiopia with impunity, since last May. That act of invasion was a violation of the charters of both the United Nations and OAU and the tenets of international law. The Council was also meeting at a time when a good number of the population in the Eritrean territory currently under Ethiopian occupation was living in the worst human rights conditions. Rampant rapes of under-age girls and women, including some as old as 60, abductions of boys, separations and disappearances of family members, as well as stealing and killing of livestock, were everyday events in the occupied territories.
"As we meet today, vandalizing of hotels and other private businesses, robbing priceless holy treasures from churches and mosques, and destroying buildings of public institutions and other crucial infrastructures with explosives still continue unabated", he said. Turning to the report of the Secretary- General, he said his delegation would like to have seen a more balanced text on the humanitarian developments. The reporting of those developments for the two countries was not parallel, he stressed. "We consider the omission, from the report, of the 71,000 Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin that have been expelled from Ethiopia; the civilian casualties; and the deliberate destruction of social and economic infrastructure by the Ethiopian army, significant", he said.
He said the expansion of UNMEE's mandate was critical to the ongoing peace process, and he appealed to the Council to adopt the Secretary-General's report. The peoples of his country and Ethiopia were both looking to the Council for a swift decision and speedy and effective implementation of the Mission. He hoped the Council would not fail them.
FESSEHA A. TESSEMA (Ethiopia) said he hoped that the Security Council would act sooner rather than later in deploying a peacekeeping force. Much had been said this morning on avoiding a costly war. And from what had been said, it seemed that "we chose to go to war because we wanted to". His delegation shared the view, however, that the war should not have happened. While his country had been the victim of flagrant aggression, its Government and people had given their best in an attempt to end the conflict. The current conflict was a blatant war of aggression initiated by Eritrea.
Since the signing of the 18 June Agreement, he said, Ethiopia had strictly adhered to the conditions. Unfortunately, in carrying out those conditions it had once more been without a partner. The cessation of hostilities compelled both parties to the conflict to slow down on propaganda and actions that could provoke further fighting. Two days after the signing of the 18 June Agreement, 10,000 Ethiopians had been deported from Eritrea. To this day, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had not visited one single prisoner of war being held in Eritrea.
He said his delegation was satisfied with the main tenets of the Secretary- General's report. The day-to-day running of the peacekeeping mission, however, had to be further worked out. He assured the Organization of his country's full cooperation. The allegations made against his country today by Eritrea were blatant lies. The issue of refugees had not just emerged, but had long since been a factor, and Eritrea's comments on the issue were thus not worth a response. His Government looked forward to the deployment of the mission, and had begun to coordinate a number of related activities in the country. He appealed to the international community to help address the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia.
Mr. MIYET, responding to a question raised during the meeting on the need for all peacekeeping troops to be professionally trained, said that issue was presently being considered in the Secretariat.
It was clear, however, that as for any other operation there was a reliance on the troop-contributing countries and their state of preparedness. There was also a need for commitments by those nations and the agreement of host nations. Without the conjunction of commitments and agreement, the Secretariat would be faced with difficulties.
Turning to the question of sanctions violations, he said the relevant resolution specifically called for reporting of all violations to the President of the Council. Those reports would then be put before the Sanctions Committee.
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