SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MISSION IN ETHIOPIA, ERITREA UNTIL 15 SEPTEMBER, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1531 (2004)

12 March 2004
SC/8023

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MISSION IN ETHIOPIA, ERITREA UNTIL 15 SEPTEMBER, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1531 (2004)

12/03/2004
Press Release
SC/8023


Security Council                                           

4924th Meeting (AM)                                         


SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MISSION IN ETHIOPIA, ERITREA UNTIL 15 SEPTEMBER,


UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1531 (2004)


Concerned by the lack of progress in marking a permanent border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which has led to a tense political stalemate, the Security Council today approved a six-month mandate extension for the United Nations mission which monitors the implementation of peace agreements between the two Governments, as well as demarcation activities on the ground.


Unanimously adopting resolution 1531 (2004), which extends the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) through 15 September 2004, the Security Council expressed concern and disappointment at the recent stalemate in the peace process, including Ethiopia’s refusal to cooperate with the Boundary Commission demarcating the disputed border, and Eritrea’s refusal at present to meet with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy,Lloyd Axworthy.


Today’s measure reaffirms the crucial importance of a political dialogue between the two countries for the completion of the peace process and the consolidation of the progress achieved thus far.  It calls on both parties to cooperate “fully and promptly” with the Boundary Commission, and to create the necessary conditions for the demarcation to proceed expeditiously, including through the unequivocal restating of Ethiopia’s acceptance of the Boundary Commission decisions, the appointment by Ethiopia of field liaison officers, as well as the payment of its dues to the Commission.


The text also urged both parties to normalize their relations -- including through confidence-building measures -- and to refrain from any threat or use of force against each other.  Once again, the Council also strongly urges the parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate, and to step up efforts to ensure the security of the Mission’s staff.  In the strongest terms possible, it reiterated its demand that the parties allow UNMEE full freedom of movements and immediately remove all restrictions on or impediments to the Mission’s work.


Further by the text, the Council expressed its full support for Mr. Axworthy and urged both parties, particularly the Government of Eritrea, to engage with him “constructively and without delay”.


The Council convened at 10:20 a.m. and adjourned at 10:22 a.m.


Council Resolution


Following is the complete text of resolution 1531 (2004):


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 1507 (2003) of 12 September 2003,


Reiterating its support for the peace process and its unwaivering commitment, including through the role played by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), to the full and expeditious implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea (hereinafter referred to as “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”), and 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,


Noting with concern the continuing impasse in the peace process, mainly due to the lack of progress in the demarcation of the border,


Taking note with concern of the twelfth report on the work of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission of 27 February 2004, in particular its conclusion that under the present circumstances the Commission is unable to progress with demarcation activities,


Expressing its concern about Ethiopia’s rejection of significant parts of the Boundary Commission’s decision, and its current lack of cooperation with the Boundary Commission,


Expressing disappointment also about Eritrea’s refusal at present to engage with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea,


Emphasizing that cooperation with the Special Envoy offers both parties a concrete opportunity to move the peace process forward,


Recognizing the increasing demand for United Nations peacekeeping and resources from the international community for peacekeeping and peace-building purposes, and recalling the additional operational costs due to the delays in the demarcation process,


Expressing its support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and for UNMEE,


Having considered the report of the Secretary-General (S/2004/180), and fully supporting the observations made therein,


“1.   Decides to extend the mandate of UNMEE at the troop and military observer levels authorized by its resolution 1320 (2000) of 15 September 2000, until 15 September 2004;


“2.   Strongly urges the parties once again to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate, and to step up its efforts to ensure the security of all UNMEE staff, and reiterates in the strongest terms its demand that the parties allow UNMEE full freedom of movement and remove with immediate effect and without preconditions any and all restrictions on, and impediments to the work of, UNMEE and its staff in the discharge of their mandate;


“3.   Stresses that the primary responsibility for implementation of the Algiers Agreements and the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission lies with both parties;


“4.   Calls on the parties to cooperate fully and promptly with the Boundary Commission, and to create the necessary conditions for demarcation to proceed expeditiously, including through the unequivocal restating of Ethiopia’s acceptance of the Boundary Commission’s decision, the appointment by Ethiopia of field liaison officers, and the payment of its dues to the Boundary Commission;


“5.   Reaffirms the crucial importance of a political dialogue between the two countries for the completion of the peace process and the consolidation of progress achieved so far, and urges both parties to normalize their relations, including through confidence-building measures, and to refrain from any threat or use of force against each other;


“6.   Reiterates its support for the initiative of the Secretary-General to exercise his good offices by appointing a Special Envoy, in order to facilitate the implementation of the Algiers Agreements, the decision of the Boundary Commission, and the relevant resolutions and decisions of the Security Council, and to encourage the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and emphasizes that this appointment does not constitute an alternative mechanism;


“7.   Expresses its full support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Lloyd Axworthy, stresses that the Special Envoy enjoys the unanimous support of the witnesses to the Algiers Agreements, namely the United Nations, the United States of America, Algeria, the African Union, and the European Union, and urges both parties, in particular the government of Eritrea, to engage constructively and without further delay with the Special Envoy;


“8.   Urges both parties once again to establish expeditiously a direct high-altitude flight route between Asmara and Addis Ababa to relieve the unnecessary additional cost to UNMEE and memberStates;


“9.   Decides to monitor closely the steps taken by the parties in the implementation of their commitments under the Algiers Agreements, including through the Boundary Commission, and to review any implications for UNMEE;


“10.  Requests the Secretary-General to monitor the situation closely and to keep under review the mission’s effectiveness, and to adjust and streamline the mission’s operations as needed, taking into account also the mandate of UNMEE as outlined in paragraph 2 of resolution 1320 (2000);


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


Background


The Secretary-General’s latest progress report on Ethiopia and Eritrea (document S/2004/180) recommends a six-month extension of the mandate of UNMEE.  The Secretary-General stresses, however, that the lack of progress in marking a permanent border between the two has led to a potentially dangerous political stalemate.


According to the report, there have been no major incidents on the ground between the countries, but in the absence of political progress, military stability is becoming fragile and should not be taken for granted.  It is clear that the main reason for the stalemate is the lack of progress in the demarcation of the border, the report says.


Although the continuing stalemate in the peace process also raised questions about UNMEE’s future –- the Mission was set up not to help support the status quo indefinitely, but to help create conditions conducive to the peaceful settlement of the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict through the delineation and demarcation of the border -- in light of the heightening tensions, the Secretary-General said it was more important than ever for the Mission to be able to carry out its key role.


That includes, according to the report, monitoring the Temporary Security Zone, as well as the redeployed positions of the armed forces of the two sides, as mandated by the Security Council two year ago.  “It is, therefore, urgent and critical that the two parties extend their complete cooperation with UNMEE and allow its personnel full freedom of movement in the Temporary Security Zone and the adjacent areas”, stresses the Secretary-General.


He also reiterates his strong appeal to the two parties, in particular to Eritrea, to give Lloyd Axworthy, his Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea, the opportunity to meet and discuss with their leadership how best his good offices could help them to overcome the impasse in the implementation of the Algiers Agreement.  In view of Mr. Axworthy’s ongoing efforts and the continuing distrust between the parties, it would be premature at present to suggest any major changes to the configuration of the Mission, he says, recommending that its mandate be extended until 15 September.


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For information media. Not an official record.