Summary of the Interview of Dr. Ahmed Hassan Dahli in connection with the 13th anniversary of the EEBC
The Director of the Eritrean Center for Strategic Studies Dr. Ahmed Hassan Dahli gave an interview in connection with the 13th anniversary of the ruling by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC). The first part of the interview’s summary follows:
On the grounds for legality and integrity of the EEBC ruling…
1.The agreements signed on 18 June and 20 December of 2000.
2. The President of Eritrea and the Ethiopian Prime Minister signed on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement accepting the final and binding ruling with no conditions for change or dialogue.
3. The Peace Agreement that outlined the final and binding nature of the EEBC ruling was signed in the presence of the UN Secretary General, the Chairperson of the Organization for African Unity (African Union), the US Secretary of State, as well as the envoy of the EU Chairperson.
4. The agreements signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea clearly state that any party that fails to conform to any or all terms of the agreements would be subjected to political, diplomatic, economic and military measures by the UN Security Council (UNSC). This indicates that the UNSC is the inter¬national charged with guaranteeing and enforcing the boundary commission ruling.
In spite of all this, the Ethiopian government not only disregarded the Algiers agreement but also impeded the border demarcation, ignoring calls by the UN Security Council to do otherwise. Ethiopia is also occupying sovereign Eritrean territory causing thousands of Eritreans to be estranged from their homeland.
The reason why Ethiopia is defying the UNSC or the international community is only because it’s protected by the US, which is itself one of the guarantors of the peace agreement. Therefore, if Ethiopia complied with the EEBC ruling and agreements it signed, and the UN assumed its responsibilities and enforced the ruling, the border demarcation would have been completed by November 2003 and relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia normalized.
On the TPLF’s repeated calls for dialogue and obstruction of the demarcation process…
From the beginning, the Ethiopian government has been inconstant and irresponsible in nature. These examples can attest to this fact:
1. When the EEBC gave its verdict on 13 April 2002, the Ethiopian Council of Ministers issued a statement along these points:
• Ethiopia won all her claims in the central sector in accordance with the 1900 treaty.
• Also in the western sector, the court has ascertained that Badme is sovereign Ethiopian territory.
2. Upon realization that the EEBC ruling in fact affirmed Badme as Eritrean territory, Ethiopia reversed its position. It however insisted that the UN cartography unit start its task of demarcating the border in the eastern sector, claiming there were technical problems if it started with the western sector as intended. Eritrea did not object as long as the demarcation was underway in accordance with the EEBC ruling
3. Three months after the verdict, Ethiopia started building settlements inside sovereign Eritrean territory in a bid to exploit the situation and argue that the areas belong to the Ethiopian settlers. The commission dismissed the settlement policy and the ensuing contentions as inadmissible.
4. The Ethiopian government officially notified the UNSC on 7 November 2002 that it wouldn’t comply with the commission’s request that Ethiopia withdraw its troops and relocate the settlements from Eritrean territory.
5.Prime Minister Meles on his part wrote to then UN Secretary General Kofi Anan saying that the EEBC ruling was “a blatant miscarriage of justice” and proposed the Security Council should set up “an alternative mechanism to demarcate the contested parts of the boundary in a just and legal manner so as to ensure lasting peace in the region.”
6. In his statement to the 59th session of the UN General Assembly on 28 September 2004, Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said “the obstacles to a breakthrough in the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea involve controversy surrounding the demarcation of no more that 15% of a common boundary.” He also said, “Dialogue and normalization of relations between the two countries is an obligation that both countries have.”
7. On 25 November 2004, Ethiopia tabled a “five-point peace proposal” for resolving the border dispute:
• Resolution of the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea only through peaceful means;
• Resolution of the root causes of the conflict through dialogue with the view to normalizing relations;
• Acceptance by Ethiopia, in principle, of the Boundary Commission decision;
• Agreement by Ethiopia to pay its dues to the Boundary Commission and to appoint field liaison officers; and
• Immediate start of dialogue with the view to implementing the Boundary Commission’s decision in a manner consistent with the promotion of sustainable peace and brotherly ties between the two peoples.
8. On 16 December 2004, Ethiopia, in contradiction to the Algiers Peace Agreement, deployed seven divisions to within 25 to 45 kilometers inside Eritrean territory. This was confirmed by the UN Secretary General in his March 2005 report to the Security Council.
9. When the Boundary Commission invited both parties to London to discuss the demarcation process in February 2005, Ethiopia refused to attend saying that a meeting “would be premature, unproductive and it could have an adverse impact on the demarcation process.”
In his detailed report to the UN Secretary General, EEBC President Sir Elihu Lauterpacht expressed increasing frustration with the failure to begin demarcation. The report disclosed that the failure by Ethiopia to attend the February 2005 meeting was another obstructive actions taken since the ruling and belied its frequently professed acceptance of the Delimitation Decision.
The report also stated that the deadlock left it no alternative but to take immediate steps to close down the field offices.
The Boundary Commission re¬port ultimately reminded both par¬ties that “the line of the boundary was legally and finally determined by its Delimitation Decision of 13 April 2002. Though undemarcated, this line is binding upon both par¬ties, subject only to the minor qualifications expressed in the Delimitation Decision, unless they agree otherwise. Conduct inconsistent with this boundary line is unlawful.”
Given the Ethiopian regime’s obstruction of the pillar emplacement, the Boundary Commission virtually demarcated the border on the basis of the pertinent colonial treaties and applicable international law.
This has been clearly pointed out by the President of the Commission to the UN Secretary General in a letter dated 27 November 2006:
“As the Commission evidently cannot remain in existence indefinitely, it proposes that the Par¬ties should, over the next twelve months, terminating at the end of November 2007, consider their positions and seek to reach agreement on the emplacement of pillars. If, by the end of that period, the Parties have not by themselves reached the necessary agreement and proceeded significantly to implement it, or have not requested and enabled the Commission to resume its activity, the Commission hereby determines that the boundary will automatically stand as demarcated by the boundary points and that the mandate of the Com¬mission can then be regarded as fulfilled. Until that time, however, it must be emphasized that the Com¬mission remains in existence and its mandate to demarcate has not been discharged. Until such time as the boundary is finally demarcated, the Delimitation Decision of 13 April 2002 continues as the only valid legal description of the boundary.”