SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS ETHIOPIA/ERITREA MISSION UNTIL 15 SEPTEMBER, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1466 (2003)

14 March 2003
SC/7690

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS ETHIOPIA/ERITREA MISSION UNTIL 15 SEPTEMBER, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1466 (2003)

14/03/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7690

Security Council

4719th Meeting (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS ETHIOPIA/ERITREA MISSION UNTIL 15 SEPTEMBER,

UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1466 (2003)

The Security Council this afternoon extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), which was to expire on midnight, until 15 September.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1466 (2003), the Council called on both Ethiopia and Eritrea too cooperate fully and promptly with the Boundary Commission in its delimiting and demarcating activities, to implement fully the Commission’s binding Demarcation Directions and to abide promptly by all its orders.

Concerned about recent incidents of incursions across the southern boundary of the Temporary Security Zone, the Council called on both parties to ensure an immediate end to such incidents and to cooperate fully with UNMEE investigations in that regard.  The Council expressed further concern about the placement by unknown entities of anti-tank mines in the Zone.

The Council urged the two parties to engage expeditiously in further discussions with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, so that they reach agreement on the timing and modalities of territorial transfer.

By the terms of the resolution, the parties were called upon to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE and to facilitate its work, including by establishing a direct high-altitude flight rout for UNMEE between Asmara, Eritrea, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which would relieve that unnecessary additional cost to the Mission.

The Council, in its resolution, also expressed its concern at the prevailing drought and worsening humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea and the implications it could have for the peace process.  In that regard, it called on Member States to continue to provide prompt and generous support for humanitarian operations.

The UNMEE was established after Ethiopia and Eritrea signed an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities on 18 June 2000 in Algiers, Algeria.  The fighting had erupted in May 1998 as a result of a border dispute.  Further negotiations resulted in the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement on 12 December 2000, also in Algiers.  On 14 August 2002, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1430 (2002), the Council adjusted the Mission's mandate to assist in the

expeditious and orderly implementation of the 13 April Delimitation Decision of the Boundary Commission. ]

The meeting started at 1:20 p.m. and adjourned at 1:25 p.m.

Resolution

The full text of Council resolution 1466 (2003) reads, as follows:

The Security Council,

Reaffirming all its previous resolutions and statements pertaining to the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the requirements contained therein, including in particular resolution 1434 (2002) of 6 September 2002,

Further reaffirming its unwavering support for the peace process and its commitment, including through the role played by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the implementation of its mandate, to the full and expeditious implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the parties on 12 December 2000 and the preceding Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities of 18 June 2000 (S/2000/1183 and S/2000/601, respectively, hereinafter referred to as the “Algiers Agreements”), the Delimitation Decision by the Boundary Commission of 13 April 2002 (S/2002/423) embraced by the parties as final and binding in accordance with the Algiers Agreements, including the Orders issued on 17 July 2002 (S/2002/853), and the ensuing binding Demarcation Directions,

Commending the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea on the progress made thus far in the peace process, including the recently concluded release and repatriation of prisoners of war, and calling on both parties to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to clarify and to resolve the remaining issues in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, and with the commitments made in the Algiers Agreements,

Reiterating the need for both parties to fulfil their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, and to ensure the safety of all personnel of the United Nations, the Boundary Commission, the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations,

Noting that the peace process is about to enter its crucial phase of demarcation, and emphasizing the importance of ensuring expeditious implementation of the Boundary Decision while maintaining stability in all areas affected by the decision,

Stressing that only the full implementation of the Algiers Agreements will lead to sustainable peace which is a crucial precondition to address reconstruction and development needs as well as economic recovery,

Noting with concern the continued violations of the model status of forces agreement, which Ethiopia has signed and Eritrea has agreed to respect,

Welcoming the eighth report of the Boundary Commission, noting the concerns expressed therein with regard to full adherence by the parties to the Boundary Decision and demarcation-related decisions of the Commission, and expressing its full support for the work of the Commission and the legal framework within which the Commission is taking its decisions,

Having considered the report of the Secretary-General (S/2003/257),

“1.Decides to extend the mandate of UNMEE at the troop and military observer levels authorized by its resolution 1320 (2000) until 15 September 2003;

“2.Urges both Ethiopia and Eritrea to continue to assume their responsibilities and fulfil their commitments under the Algiers Agreements and calls upon them to cooperate fully and promptly with the Boundary Commission to enable it to fulfil the mandate conferred upon it by the parties of expeditiously delimiting and demarcating the boundary, to implement fully the Commission’s binding Demarcation Directions, to abide promptly by all its Orders, including those issued on 17 July 2002 (S/2002/853), and to take all steps necessary to provide the necessary security on the ground for the staff of the Commission when operating in territories under their control;

“3.Expresses concern regarding recent incidents of incursions across the southern boundary of the Temporary Security Zone and calls on both parties to ensure an immediate end to such incidents and to cooperate fully with UNMEE investigations in this regard, and expresses further concern about the placement by unknown entities of anti-tank mines in the Temporary Security Zone;

“4.Calls on the parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate to ensure the personal security of UNMEE staff when operating in territories under their control, and to facilitate their work, including by establishing a direct high-altitude flight route for UNMEE between Asmara and Addis Ababa, which would relieve the unnecessary additional cost to UNMEE;

“5.Demands that the parties allow UNMEE full freedom of movement and remove with immediate effect any and all restrictions on, and impediments to the work of, UNMEE and its staff in the discharge of its mandate;

“6.Affirms the ability of UNMEE, within its existing verification mandate, to monitor the parties’ fulfilment of their responsibilities with regard to the security of the Boundary Commission staff working in the field;

“7.Notes the work done by the UNMEE Mine Action Coordination Centre in demining and education on risk related to mines, and urges the parties to pursue efforts on mine clearance;

“8.Urges the two parties to engage expeditiously in further discussions with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General so that they reach agreement on the timing and modalities of territorial transfer, which could include the establishment by the parties of a mechanism for the resolution of problems in this regard;

“9.Urges the two parties to begin to sensitize their populations about the demarcation process and its implications, including the role of the United Nations in support of this process;

“10.Calls on the parties to refrain from unilateral troop or population movements, including establishment of any new settlements in areas near the border, until demarcation and orderly transfer of territorial control has been accomplished, in accordance with article 4.16 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement;

“11.Reaffirms its decision to review frequently the progress made by the parties in the implementation of their commitments pursuant to the Algiers Agreements, including through the Boundary Commission, and to review any implications for UNMEE, including with regard to the process of territorial transfers during the demarcation as outlined by the Secretary-General in his report of 10 July 2002;

“12.Encourages the guarantors, facilitators and witnesses of the Algiers Agreements and the Friends of UNMEE to further intensify their contacts with the authorities of both countries with a view to contributing to an expeditious demarcation process;

“13.Welcomes the contributions by Member States to the Trust Fund for the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Border and calls on  the international community to continue to contribute urgently to the Trust Fund in order to facilitate the conclusion of the demarcation process in accordance with the Boundary Commission’s schedule;

“14.Calls again on the parties to increase their efforts to take measures that will build confidence and contribute to the normalization of relations between them, including in particular their political relations and those in the areas listed in paragraph 14 of resolution 1398 (2002) of 15 March 2002;

“15.Expresses its concern at the prevailing drought and worsening humanitarian situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea and the implications this could have for the peace process and calls on Member States to continue to provide prompt and generous support for humanitarian operations in Ethiopia and Eritrea;

“16.Invites the African Union to continue to lend its full support to the peace process;

“17.Expresses its strong support for the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Mr. Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, the UNMEE Force Commander, Major General Robert Gordon, the military and civilian personnel of UNMEE and the Boundary Commission for their work in support of the peace process;

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

Background

For the Council’s consideration of the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea, it had before it the latest progress report of the Secretary-General (document S/2003/257), dated 6 March.  The report provides an update on developments since his report of 20 December 2002 and describes the activities of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), whose mandate was extended until 15 March by Security Council resolution 1434 (2002) of 6 September 2002.  The report also includes an update on UNMEE activities related to the provision of assistance to the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, as mandated by the relevant Council resolutions.

The report states that UNMEE will continue to monitor the situation in the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas closely, and is prepared to assist the parties with any measures aimed at building confidence and contributing to the long-term normalization of relations between the two neighbouring countries.  Having the above considerations in mind, the Secretary-General recommends that the mandate of UNMEE be extended for six months, until 15 September.

The report reviews:  status of the Temporary Security Zone; the work of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission; mine action; humanitarian developments; the human rights situation; public information; and financial aspects.  The Secretary-General observes that, while further progress has been made in implementing the Algiers Agreements since his previous report, the peace process is now at a “critical stage”, and the international community should not be complacent.  On balance, the parties have generally been cooperating well throughout this process.  It is now time, however, for them to translate their commitments into real action on the ground, namely, the implementation of the 13 April 2002 delimitation decision.

[The Algiers Agreements refers to the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, signed by the two parties on 18 June 2000 in Algiers, Algeria.  War between the two countries erupted in May 1998 as a result of a border dispute.]

In the execution of momentous legal decisions, political will is of paramount importance, the report states.  The Secretary-General, therefore, calls on leaders of both countries to exercise the same statesmanship and flexibility that produced the Algiers Agreements and have enabled the peace process to take root thus far.  Recent démarches made to his Special Representative and the members of the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa, together with representations made to the Boundary Commission, were forceful and could have very serious consequences.  Issues that arose in the Commission should be addressed within their proper legal framework, as efforts to reopen fundamental matters already settled through binding arbitration could only be counterproductive. 

The report says it is worth noting the Commission’s clear indication that  if the parties wish to extend its mandate to include a power to consider the variation of the boundary, it will be prepared to act accordingly.  Since its establishment, the Boundary Commission has displayed great wisdom and legal stature, and it would be absolutely imperative for the international community to continue supporting the Commission’s decisions and their early implementation.  At the same time, concerns regarding the humanitarian consequences of demarcation must be heeded.  The international community should be ready to alleviate the hardships or disruptions that inevitably result from any demarcation exercise.

The United Nations is prepared to facilitate the resolution of problems that may arise as a result of the transfer of territorial control, as provided in the December 2000 Algiers Agreement.  This could include, but would not be limited to, the dispatch of a needs assessment mission and the mobilization of international assistance.  It is obvious, however, that such support by the international community can only be provided on the basis of an accepted demarcation line.  The Boundary Commission has scheduled demarcation to be completed in November.  While

the immediate priority is the initiation of demarcation, sight should not be lost of the fact that agreement on the timing and modalities for the transfer of territorial control should not necessarily await the completion of demarcation.  The parties should come to agreement with the Special Representative on these crucial issues.

Meanwhile, the report continues, UNMEE and the United Nations country teams in Ethiopia and Eritrea are working together to identify likely challenges resulting from transfer of territorial control, with a view to advising and assisting the parties concerning human rights, humanitarian and legal issues.  The parties should seize this unique opportunity to consolidate the peace between them.  The Secretary-General urges them to honour their commitments and cooperate fully with the international community, which has displayed commendable unity, generosity and determination to assist them.  It is expected that Ethiopia and Eritrea provide freedom of movement in the border areas for UNMEE demining elements involved in route clearance and demining tasks for demarcation.

Furthermore, the Eritrean authorities are urged to take measures to recommence their humanitarian mine-action operations in the Temporary Security Zone as soon as possible, in order to facilitate the early return of internally displaced persons and refugees, the report says.  The Eritrean Government is expected to conclude, without further delay, the status-of-forces agreement with the United Nations.  While the two parties should be commended for the fact that there have been no serious ceasefire violations since the Zone’s establishment, the recent cross-border incidents are a source of concern.  The Secretary-General urges the parties to do their utmost to prevent a recurrence of such incidents.  It is also particularly important that the parties begin to sensitize their populations about the demarcation process and its implications.

The report states that, in the period ahead, the parties, as well as the Boundary Commission, will continue to rely on the political and material support of the international community.  Despite the significant contributions received so far, the Trust Fund for the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Border will not be sufficient to cover the total cost of demarcation.  The Secretary-General, therefore, renews his appeal to the donor community to contribute generously to the trust funds and other mechanisms, in order to facilitate the conclusion of the demarcation process as currently scheduled.  In the same vein, the serious drought affecting the two countries requires immediate attention and international support.

The Secretary-General concludes that the period ahead will pose major challenges, but he is convinced that the peace process will continue to advance, with the full cooperation of the parties and the continued and invaluable support of the African Union and interested Member States, including troop-contributing countries.

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For information media. Not an official record.