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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Thursday 24 November 2005

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: Security Council threatens sanctions over border dispute

NAIROBI, 24 Nov 2005 (IRIN) - The UN Security Council on Wednesday threatened to take action, which could include sanctions, against Ethiopia and Eritrea if the two Horn of Africa neighbours continued to engage in activities that aggravated their ongoing border dispute.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council deplored Eritrea's restrictions on the freedom of movement of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and demanded that Asmara immediately reverse its 5 October decision to ban UNMEE helicopter flights.

The Council noted with deep concern the high concentration of troops on both sides of the Temporary Security Zone and called on Ethiopia and Eritrea to refrain from any threat or use of force against each other.

It demanded that both parties return to the 16 December 2004 deployment levels, beginning immediately. The redeployment must be completed within 30 days.

The Council "expresses its determination to consider further appropriate measures, including under Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations, if one or both of the parties fail to comply with the demands" of the resolution.

Article 41 stipulates that the Security Council may decide what measures, not involving the use of armed force, are to be employed to implement its decisions, and it may call upon the members of the UN to apply such measures.

The measures may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.

The Council urged Ethiopia and Eritrea to break the stalemate on the implementation of the peace agreement, which was signed in 2000, through diplomatic efforts. It asked the Secretary-General to monitor the parties' compliance with its demands and to submit a report 40 days after the resolution's adoption.

It stressed that lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea could not be achieved without the full demarcation of the boundary between the countries, which fought a war over their common border from 1998 to 2000.

The Security Council demanded that Ethiopia accept fully and without further delay the binding decision of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission and immediately take concrete steps to enable, without preconditions, the commission to demarcate the border completely and promptly.

It expressed its determination to monitor closely the actions of both parties in relation to the border demarcation and to keep the matter under consideration.

The 3,200-strong UN peacekeeping mission has estimated that Eritrea's ban on helicopter flights had cut its capacity to monitor the buffer zone between the two countries by more than half. Almost all night patrols were curtailed and restrictions placed on vehicle and foot patrols.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after a 30-year guerrilla war, but the boundary between the two East African nations was never formally demarcated.

The 2000 peace agreement provided for an independent commission to rule on the boundary. Ethiopia refused to accept the panel's 2002 decision, despite that fact that both countries had agreed in advance to accept the commission's judgment as final and binding.


This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but May not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2005

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