The 390 Resolution of The United Nations Assembly
Reports of the Fact Finding Committee
The fact finding Committee sent by the United Nations Assembly to view the case of Eritrea was composed of members from, Burma, Pakistan, Guatemala, South Africa and Norway. Following its research, the Committee came up with three contradictory suggestions.
Pakistan and Guatemala called for Eritrean independence, while Norway and South Africa suggested that Eritrea be federated with Ethiopia but with an autonomous government of its own. The third suggestion was from Norway saying that the highlands of Eritrea as well as the former Semhar and Denkalia provinces to be joined to Ethiopia while the western parts of the country remain under British Administration.
Ploys within the United Nations Assembly
The Eritrean case was once again brought before UN Assembly and the representatives of the Eritrean political parties were called to the United States. Sheikh Ibrahim Sultan and Ato Weldeab Weldemariam from the Independence Block and Dejazmach Tedla Bairu and Dejazmach Beyene Beraki from the Unionist Party were selected to be the representatives of the parties.
Though the representatives of the parties were called to New York, there were new ploys maneuvered by the United States within the Assembly. At that time, the US had a big communication base in Asmara and wanted to establish a naval base in Massawa to control the Red Sea. To achieve this, the United States needed the cooperation of Ethiopia and come up with a solution where both parties could get what they want; Ethiopia a full control over the country and the US a naval base in the Red Sea.
To achieve the aforementioned agenda, Washington strongly opposed Eritrean independence. As a result with the cooperation of Ethiopia and other countries, the US came up with an alternative that called for Eritrea to be administered under Emperor Haileselassie, having its own autonomous government. This conspiratorial plan was presented to the UN Assembly in the form of a proposal for Eritrean federation with Ethiopia.
The UN Assembly Resolution
Federation is ordinarily carried out when two or more independent countries unite together based on the wish of their people and independent governments. And those countries will administrate themselves and solve their internal issues by themselves. They also have the right to develop their economy, education and living standard of their people. There shouldn’t be a higher government or domination from either one of the federated parties. And the established federal government should be composed from all parties involved. For example, if the government of Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to have a federation, there should be a federal government composed from both sides which is neutral to both sides. This federal government will work on the foreign affairs of both countries; will have a united army, coordinate the tasks of both governments and etc. And this is the true meaning of federation.
The federation proposal presented to the UN Assembly was not anything like the one mentioned above. While it allowed for forming an Eritrean government it didn’t allow the establishment of a federal government and gave the government of Ethiopia the mandate to be the federal government. All the executive authority was given to the Ethiopian government and Eritrea was not allowed to establish any relations with the outside world, all foreign relations were set up by the government of Ethiopia.
Some of the members of the Assembly like the former Soviet Union and some Arab counties, opposed the federation proposal and pointed out that it was all a maneuver on the part of the United States and that the Eritrean people have no desire for it.
Sheikh Ibrahim Sultan, from the Independent Block, opposed the plan strongly and said: “Eritrea had been colonized by Turkey, Egypt and Italy but has never been part of Imperial Ethiopia and there have been continuous conflicts among the people of both countries and uniting those countries or establishing a federal government is handing over the people of Eritrea to their adversaries.” He further explained that if there is any justice, the people of Eritrea should get their independence and if Eritrea can’t get its independent, there won’t be peace between the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as in the entire Horn region. “The people of Eritrea will not accept the dominance of Ethiopia because it a country torn by internal conflicts and the people are backward. Hence, Eritrean people will not quietly stand by while their country is removed from the world map,” he added.
But Sheikh Ibrahim Sultan’s speech was ignored and 46 members of the United Nations Assembly supported United States’ scheme to federate Eritrea with Ethiopia while only 10 countries opposed it.
As a consequence of the ploys maneuvered by the United States, Eritrea was joined with Ethiopia under the pretext of federation and the so-called democratic rights of the people of Eritrea were only nominal because Ethiopia was an imperial country where there were no democratic rights. In addition to the above mentioned reasons, the people of Eritrea were joined with Ethiopia against their wishes.
All freedom hungry people of Eritrea were angered and dejected by the federation resolution while members of the Unionist party were more than glad to be joined with Ethiopia. The mouthpiece of the Unionist Party, “Ethiopia” newspaper published a statement “now that we have gotten this far, the rest will come easily” and admitted that the whole aim of the federation was to make Eritrea under Ethiopia.
The people of Eritrea were betrayed by the United Nations and Ato Weldeab Weldemariam said: “The decision was a betrayal to human kind and was a big mistake committed by the superpowers of that time. The people of Eritrea were expecting justice form this international organization but what happened was a betrayal.”