SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS ETHIOPIA-ERITREA MISSION UNTIL 15 MARCH 2005,
UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1560 (2004)
Concerned at the lack of progress in the border demarcation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Security Council this morning approved a six-month mandate extension of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE).
Unanimously adopting resolution 1560 (2004), which extends UNMEE’s mandate through 15 March 2005, the Council also approved adjustments to the Mission’s presence and operations, as recommended by the Secretary-General, including the repatriation of infantry battalion and support elements from Sector East and the consolidation of the existing three sectors into two. Marking the second phase of adjustments already in progress, the drawdown of troops would be offset –- to the extent possible –- by an increase in flying hours of existing air assets, the Secretary-General notes in his report on the matter.
By further terms of the text adopted today, the Council called upon both parties to cooperate “fully and expeditiously” with UNMEE in implementing its mandate, to ensure the security of all UNMEE staff and to remove, immediately and unconditionally, all restrictions on and impediments to the work and free movement of UNMEE and its staff.
Taking note of positive developments in some areas of relations between UNMEE and both parties, the Council, by the text adopted, welcomed Ethiopia’s recent decision to allow a direct high-altitude flight route between Asmara and Addis Ababa without any deviation, and urged both Governments to take immediate steps towards implementing direct flights between their capitals. In that regard, the Council also called upon Eritrea to reopen the Asmara to Barent road.
Also according to the text, the Council stressed that Ethiopia and Eritrea have the primary responsibility for implementing the Algiers Agreement and the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, and called upon both parties to show political leadership to achieve a full normalization of their relationship, including through the adoption of further confidence-building measures.
The Council also called on the parties to fully and promptly cooperate with the Boundary Commission and to create conditions for demarcation to proceed expeditiously, including through payment of Ethiopia’s dues to the Commission and the appointment of field liaison officers.
The text also urged Ethiopia to show the political will to reaffirm unequivocally its acceptance of the Boundary Commission’s decision, and called on Eritrea to enter into dialogue with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Lloyd Axworthy.
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, by its 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 Council convened at 10:14 a.m. and adjourned at 10:17 a.m.
The full text of resolution 1560 (2004) 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 1531 (2004) of 12 March 2004,
“Stressing its unwavering commitment to the peace process, including through the role played by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), and 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/2000/423), embraced by the parties as final and binding in accordance with the Algiers Agreements,
“Recalling that lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as in the region can not be achieved without the full demarcation of the border between the parties,
“Noting with concern in this regard the lack of progress made in the demarcation of the border, as reflected in the Fourteenth report on the work of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission of 20 August 2004, which concludes that under the present circumstances the Commission is unable to progress with demarcation activities,
“Expressing its concern aboutEthiopia’s ongoing rejection of significant parts of the Boundary Commission’s decision, and its current lack of cooperation with the Boundary Commission,
“Expressing disappointment about the continuing refusal of Eritrea to engage with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea, whose good offices represent a concrete opportunity for both parties to move the peace process forward,
“Recalling the recent increase in United Nations Peacekeeping activities and the need to allocate peacekeeping resources in the most effective manner, and recalling in this regard the additional burden caused by the delays in the demarcation process;
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General (S/2004/708) and fully supporting the observations made therein,
“1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNMEE until 15 March 2005;
“2. Approves the adjustments to UNMEE, including its presence and operations, as recommended by the Secretary-General in his report in pares. 13-18;
“3. Calls upon both parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the implementation of its mandate, to ensure the security of all UNMEE staff, and to remove immediately and unconditionally all restrictions on and impediments to the work and full and free movement of UNMEE and its staff;
“4. Takes note of positive developments in some areas of relations between UNMEE and both parties, welcomes in this regard particularly the recent decision by Ethiopia to allow a direct high-altitude flight route between Asmara and Addis Ababa without any deviation, urges Ethiopia and Eritrea to take immediate steps, in consultation with UNMEE, towards implementing the direct flights between the two capitals; and also in this regard calls upon Eritrea to reopen the Asmara to Barent road;
“5. Stresses that Ethiopia and Eritrea have the primary responsibility for the implementation of the Algiers Agreement and the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and calls upon both parties to show political leadership to achieve a full normalization of their relationship, including through the adoption of further confidence building measures;
“6. 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 payment of Ethiopia´s dues to the Boundary Commission and the appointment of field liaison officers;
“7. Urges Ethiopia to show the political will to reaffirm unequivocally its acceptance of the Boundary Commission’s decision, and take the necessary steps to enable the Commission to demarcate the border without further delay;
“8. Reiterates its full support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Lloyd Axworthy, in his efforts to facilitate the implementation of the Algiers Agreements, the decision of the Boundary Commission and normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries through his good offices, and emphasizes that this appointment does not constitute an alternative mechanism;
“9. Calls onEritrea to enter into dialogue and cooperation with the Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea;
“10. Decides to continue monitoring closely the steps taken by the parties in the implementation of their commitments under the relevant resolutions of the Security Council and under the Algiers Agreements, including through the Boundary Commission, and to review any implications for UNMEE;
“11. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to monitor the situation closely, to review the mission’s mandate in the light of progress made in the peace process and changes made to UNMEE;
“12. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”
When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the Secretary-General’s progress report on the issue (document S/2004/708), in which he recommends that the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) be extended until 15 March 2005. He also presents recommendations for adjusting and streamlining the mission’s operations.
In his report, the Secretary-General states that, while the situation between Eritrea and Ethiopia remains far from ideal, there have been some positive developments. The UNMEE has experienced a decline in restrictions on its freedom of movement; a cessation of anti-UNMEE statements by officials; and a significant decrease in the number of detentions of locally recruited United Nations staff. Ethiopia had decided to allow UNMEE to fly directly between Asmara (Eritrea) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).
The Secretary-General remains concerned, however, about the absence of prospects for breaking the continuing stalemate regarding border demarcation. During his visit to the countries in July, neither side offered any new ideas on how the peace process could be advanced. The longer the impasse persists, the Secretary-General states, the less likely it is that either of them will show flexibility or radically modify its position.
The key to breaking the current stalemate is the implementation of the Boundary Commission’s final and binding decision of 13 April 2002. Ethiopia remains opposed to significant parts of the decision, while Eritrea insists that dialogue is not possible before the completion of the demarcation process and has so far refused to meet with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Lloyd Axworthy. The Secretary-General appeals to Ethiopia to allow demarcation to proceed expeditiously and to both parties to adopt a more constructive approach towards the efforts of his special Envoy. He also calls on the parties to realize that the cost of postponing peace grows immensely with time. Both governments need peace and stability to focus on the serious humanitarian and development challenges of their countries.
The report contains some recommendations for the adjustment of UNMEE, provided that any change in the mission’s structure would be gradual and not undermine the core monitoring function or the prospect of the Boundary commission resuming its work. Phase I of the adjustment, already in progress, includes replacing the Slovak military demining contingent with a modest commercial capacity, resulting in savings of some $6 million annually.
Phase II would entail the repatriation of the infantry battalion and support elements from Sector East, and the consolidation of the existing three sectors into two sectors. The drawdown of troops would be offset by an increase in the flying hours of the existing air assets. The proposed Phase II could commence as soon as approved by the Council and be completed by the beginning of 2005. Annual savings may amount to some $20 million. Further reductions may be justified, depending on the situation on the ground upon the completion of Phase II.
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