Eritrea: A Straight Path to Peace
The new Ethiopian Prime Minister told the world that he wants to make peace with Eritrea. It is a noble desire no one can disagree with. However, talk is cheap and he needs to walk his talk. One cannot say he is working for peace while in breach of international law and occupying Eritrea’s sovereign territory. The straight avenue towards reconciliation and peace between the two neighbors is ending Ethiopia’s 16-year long occupation. This is the issue blocking the long-term peace and welfare of the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia, and of the whole Horn of Africa. Which path the new Prime Minister chooses to take will determine the future; is he after a cheap public relations stunt like his two predecessors, or is he genuinely interested in peace?
It has been 16 years since the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) April 13, 2002 Delimitation Decision and over 10 years since its November 2007 demarcation decision. The decisions affirmed Eritrean sovereignty over Badme; however, Ethiopia, in breach of international law, continues to occupy Badme and other sovereign Eritrean territories. This is chiefly because the guarantors of the Agreement–the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union as well as the United State–have not been willing to shoulder their collective and individual responsibilities to force the intransigent party, Ethiopia, to comply.
The EEBC, comprised of five neutral jurists with impeccable credentials, gave its unanimous decisions based on pertinent colonial treaties and applicable international law as stipulated by the Algiers Agreement of 12 December 2000. Following its Delimitation decision the Commission tried to physically demarcate the border by placing pillars, however, the regime in Ethiopia refused to allow demarcation to take place on the ground, forcing the Commission to complete its work with a “virtual demarcation” instead. According to the Algiers Agreement the Commission’s decisions are final and binding. This means nothing is open to dialogue and no ifs or buts. No one should expect Eritrea to normalize relations with Ethiopia: a country that is taking a “final and binding” decision to mean neither “final” nor “binding”! No self-respecting government would enter into any “good-faith” dialogue with a government that has neither goodness nor faith.
For sixteen years the world had witnessed the deafening silence of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the other guarantors of the 2000 agreement in the face of flagrant violation of the law by Ethiopia. Here the US deserves a special mention. As the current US National Security Advisor, Ambassador John Bolton, exposed in his book “Surrender is not an Option”, the US had contemplated replacing the EEBC’s Decision to appease Ethiopia. According to Bolton, Jendayi Frazer, George Bush’s Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, had turned herself into a border surveyor so that she can “reopen the 2002 EEBC decision, which she had concluded was wrong, and award a major piece of disputed territory to Ethiopia.” Obama’s National Security Advisor and former US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, the very person responsible for the escalation of the border war in May of 1998, is also quoted in the Wikileaks cables recklessly advising Ethiopia to propose “a new border demarcation plan” and “a third party [read the US] could offer some legitimacy.” These show that the problem has never been Ethiopia, but those in Washington and London who were and are trying to prop up the regime in Ethiopia.
The Organization of Eritrean American (OEA) strongly urges the UN Security Council, particularly the new US administration and the International Community to break this cycle of continued injustice against Eritrea and its people by compelling the regime in Ethiopia to unconditionally comply with the U.N. Charter and international law by vacating sovereign Eritrean territories. Ethiopia needs to be reminded, loudly and clearly, that the straight and easiest path to peace with Eritrea is ending the occupation and abiding by the letter and spirit of the international Agreements it willingly signed.