SECURITY COUNCIL URGES ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA TO PROVIDE FULL AND PROMPT COOPERATION TO BOUNDARY COMMISSION, REITERATES CONCERN ON OUTSTANDING ISSUES

17 July 2003
SC/7817

SECURITY COUNCIL URGES ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA TO PROVIDE FULL AND PROMPT COOPERATION TO BOUNDARY COMMISSION, REITERATES CONCERN ON OUTSTANDING ISSUES

17/07/2003
Press ReleaseSC/7817

Security Council

4787th Meeting (AM)

SECURITY COUNCIL URGES ETHIOPIA AND ERITREA TO PROVIDE FULL AND PROMPT COOPERATION

TO BOUNDARY COMMISSION, REITERATES CONCERN ON OUTSTANDING ISSUES

The Security Council this morning, welcoming Ethiopia and Eritrea’s acceptance of the April 2002 delimitation decision as final and binding, urged the parties to provide their full and prompt cooperation to the Boundary Commission for the beginning of demarcation in Sector East and for the initiation of survey work in Sectors Centre and West.

In a statement read by Council President Inocencio F. Arias (Spain), the Council called upon the parties to pursue any matters that might arise in connection with the implementation of the Commission’s delimitation decision within the provisions of the Algiers Agreement.

The Council reiterated its serious concern about outstanding issues, in particular restrictions on the freedom of movement of remaining personnel of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and the continuing absence of a direct high-altitude flight route for UNMEE aircraft between Asmara and Addis Ababa, resulting in additional costs to the Mission.

Further, it called on both parties to normalize their relationship through political dialogue, including confidence-building measures, such as holding alternating meetings of the Military Coordination Commission in each other’s capital.

Welcoming UNMEE’s intention to continue quick-impact projects, which directly assist communities in the border regions, the Council also called on Member States in a position to do so to urgently support the Trust Fund for the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Border and the Trust Fund to Support the Peace Process in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The meeting started at 10:18 a.m. and adjourned at 10:26 a.m.

Presidential Statement

The text of the presidential statement (document S/PRST/2003/10) reads as follows:

The Security Council, recalling all its previous resolutions and statements of its President regarding the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, as well as the conclusions of the Security Council mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia in 2002, welcomes the Secretary-General’s progress report of 23 June 2003 (S/2003/665).

The Security Council reaffirms the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and its support for the 13 April 2002 delimitation decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC).

The Security Council welcomes the public commitment of both parties to a full and expeditious implementation of the Algiers Agreement of 12 December 2000, and reaffirms the Council’s commitment to contribute to the completion of the peace process.  The Council welcomes the parties’ acceptance of the 13 April 2002 delimitation decision as final and binding.

The Security Council welcomes that the situation in the Temporary Security Zone has remained calm and that the parties have cooperated well with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and with UNMEE.  The Council reiterates its serious concern about outstanding issues referred to in the Secretary-General’s report, in particular some restrictions on the freedom of movement of UNMEE that remain and the continuing absence of a direct high-altitude flight route for UNMEE aircraft between Asmara and Addis Ababa, resulting in additional costs to the Mission.

The Security Council supports the Secretary-General’s observation in his progress report (S/2003/665) that expeditious demarcation of the border is crucial, and expresses concern at the delays so far, particularly given UNMEE’s operational cost at a time of growing demands on United Nations peacekeeping.  Delays would be contrary to the wish of both parties to achieve lasting peace and stability as manifested in the Algiers Agreement.

The Security Council urges the parties to provide their full and prompt cooperation to the Boundary Commission for the beginning of demarcation in Sector East and for the initiation of survey work in Sectors Centre and West.  The Council calls upon the parties to pursue any matters that may arise in connection with the implementation of the Boundary Commission’s delimitation decision within the provisions of the Algiers Agreement.

The Security Council encourages the parties to continue their cooperation with the Military Coordination Commission in order to resolve military and security coordination issues arising from the Boundary Commission’s activities.  The Security Council welcomes assurances given by both parties regarding the provision of security for the Boundary Commission’s staff and contractors operating in the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas during demarcation.

The Security Council regrets the absence of political contacts between the parties.  It believes that political dialogue between the two countries is crucial for the success of the peace process and the consolidation of progress made thus far.  The Council calls on both parties to normalize their relationship through political dialogue, including confidence-building measures such as holding alternating meetings of the Military Coordination Commission in each other’s capital.

The Council underlines the United Nations readiness to facilitate political dialogue if requested and to offer strong support in addressing the humanitarian and development challenges that would result from the demarcation of the border.

The Security Council encourages UNMEE to continue its local outreach activities in order to provide valuable information about the peace process and mine awareness programmes to the local population.  The Council welcomes UNMEE’s intention to continue quick-impact projects, which provide direct assistance to communities in the border regions, and welcomes the Secretary-General’s recommendation contained in paragraph 22 of his report.  The Council, expressing appreciation to those Member States that have already provided contributions to the Trust Fund for the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Border and to the Trust Fund to Support the Peace Process in Ethiopia and Eritrea, calls on Member States in a position to do so to urgently provide further support to these Trust Funds.

The Security Council is concerned about the serious shortfall of resources received in response to the consolidated appeals to address the humanitarian consequences of the drought in Ethiopia and Eritrea and calls on Member States and the international community to contribute generously to these appeals.

Secretary-General’s Report

The Security Council met this morning on the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, for which it had before it the progress report of the Secretary-General on Ethiopia and Eritrea (document S/2003/665).  The report provides an update since the last report of 6 March (S/2003/257) on deployment and activities of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), whose mandate was extended until 5 September.

War between the two countries erupted in May 1998 as a result of a border dispute.  The United Nations Mission was established after both countries signed an Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities on 18 June 2000 in Algiers, Algeria.  Further negotiations resulted in the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement on 12 December 2000, also in Algiers.

According to the present report, the situation in the Mission area remained calm and the parties cooperated well with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, and UNMEE.  Both parties maintained a defensive military posture on either side of the Temporary Security Zone, and no major change in force levels was observed.  The number of border incursions by Ethiopian herdsmen, accompanied by armed men, into the Temporary Security Zone has increased, with the risk of armed clashes.

Restrictions continue to be imposed on the Mission’s freedom of movement in the areas adjacent to the Temporary Security Zone, and there is a continued absence of a direct high-altitude flight route for UNMEE aircraft between Asmara, Eritrea, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The longer and more complicated flight routes the Mission had to take imposed an additional cost of over $2.5 million on the Mission.  The Secretary-General appeals to the parties to reconsider their positions on the issue and to resolve that unnecessary and costly problem in a spirit of compromise.

The Military Coordination Commission held its sixteenth meeting on 19 March in Djibouti.  Both parties agreed there to do all in their power to prevent the laying of mines in or near the Temporary Security zone.  As the demarcation process draws closer, UNMEE anticipates holding more frequent meetings in order to help resolve military and security coordination issues arising from the Boundary Commission’s activities.  The Government of Eritrea has still not signed the status-of-forces agreement with the United Nations.

While progress has been achieved in the demarcation process, it has not been able to proceed as quickly as anticipated.  (The ninth report of the Boundary Commission is annexed to the report.)  The UNMEE has continued to provide administrative, logistical and demining services in support of preparatory work for demarcation.  An additional $4.1 million will be required to complete demarcation of the whole boundary, and the Secretary-General, therefore, appeals to Member States to contribute generously to the Trust Fund for the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Border.

According to the Secretary-General, the peace process is at a critical stage.  Lasting peace cannot be built on the basis of temporary arrangements.  In the absence of forward movement, precious momentum could be lost and prove difficult to regain.  Progress is required with regard to the demarcation of the border and a relationship between the parties that enables them to address, through peaceful discourse, any problems that may arise between them.

The Secretary-General notes that Member States have made substantial political and financial investments to support the parties on the road to peace.  However, nothing will be more important than the commitment and determination of the parties themselves.  Obviously, completion of the peace process will allow the parties to address the humanitarian emergency caused by the protracted drought and the effects of a long conflict.  In that connection, the Secretary-General appeals to the international community to respond generously to the pressing needs of the two nations.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.