The Council has also begun discussions on a review of the sanctions measures on Eritrea, in line with its intentions outlined in resolution 2317 of 10 November 2016. This resolution was adopted following receipt of the final report of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG), which for the third year in a row had found no evidence that Eritrea was supporting the Al-Shabaab terrorist group. During negotiations on the resolution, China proposed language requesting the SEMG to present a report within 120 days to the Committee on recommendations for lifting sanctions imposed on Eritrea, including benchmarks and a timeframe. This proposal was supported by Angola, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela. However, this was not acceptable to some members. As penholder, the UK, brokered a compromise text that included expressing the Council’s “intention to review measures on Eritrea in light of the upcoming midterm update by the SEMG due by 30 April 2017 and taking into account relevant Security Council resolutions”, which some members preferred as it did not prejudge the outcome of the review. Angola, China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela all abstained, and the resolution was adopted with only ten affirmative votes.
On 17 May, Council members met in consultations to discuss the review. The UK apparently wanted to take stock of the positions of all members in this meeting, with the intention of drafting a presidential statement that would enshrine a road map on the way forward on Eritrea sanctions. Council members met again earlier today to brainstorm potential elements of such a text. It appears that several members are on board with this plan; however, there are divergences over the purpose of this exercise, and differences of view concerning how much value such a draft would add to the Council’s involvement on this issue, as several of the elements being discussed are addressed in previous resolutions. While a text would probably not change existing requirements on Eritrea, it could include confidence-building measures and ideas for improving the Council’s engagement with Asmara. Negotiations on a presidential statement, which would require consensus for adoption, will continue next week and may prove challenging, given the divisions among Council members on how to approach the review of Eritrea sanctions.