The Commission also presented Eritrea’s reservations and actions in that time period.
John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations also addressed the issue of Ethiopia’s non-compliance. Speaking to the Press corps on 14 December 2005, about the regime’s latest gimmick, the 5-Point Peace Plan (5PPP), Bolton also hit the nail right on the head when it came to the US-led international community and its acquiescence of Ethiopia’s continued belligerence. Bolton said:
“…one reason we’re in this dilemma is that the government of Ethiopia has never complied with its obligations under the 2000 agreement and the 2002 border demarcation…the Council’s unwillingness or inability to confront Ethiopia’s three-year long refusal to adhere to the very agreement it made in 2000…”
The US-led international community and specifically the guarantors and witnesses of the Algiers Agreements could have acted in accordance with Article 14 of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement adapted and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council which clearly stated the following:
“….the OAU and the UN commit themselves to guarantee the respect for this commitment of the parties. This guarantee shall be comprised of measures to be taken by the international community should one or both parties violate this commitment, including appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations by the Security Council…”
They chose instead to appease the minority regime in Ethiopia using various ploys and gimmicks.
From appointing a Lloyd Axworthy as Special Envoy, to re-open negotiations on the border, to appointing General Fulford as a facilitator to adjust the map by one mile (so that Badme could become within Ethiopian territory), to advising Ethiopia to accept in “principle” the EEBC ruling that it initially rejected and call for “dialogue”, to presumably give Ethiopia the “moral high ground”, to diverting attention away from the border issue by orchestrating an elaborate vilification and defamation campaign against the Government and people of Eritrea, to the illegal unfair and unjust US Ethiopia engineered sanctions of 2009 and 2010. The last 12-years have seen a gradual erosion of international law and the credibility of the US and its allies to serve as honest brokers for peace in the Horn region.
After waiting for over 5 years, the EEBC, due to Ethiopia’s refusal to allow for the expeditious demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border in accordance with the Final and Binding EEBC decision, the Commission closed its offices and left the area. The Commission in its November 2006 Statement said that it was “ obliged to adopt another approach to effect the demarcation of the border” and complete its mandate to demarcate the Eritrea Ethiopia by placing coordinates on maps “virtual demarcation”, as opposed to pillars on the ground. The EEBC, in its Statement of 27 November 2006 explained its methodology:
“…Modern techniques of image processing and terrain modelling make it possible, in conjunction with the use of high resolution aerial photography, to demarcate the course of the boundary by identifying the location of turning points (hereinafter called “boundary points”) by both grid and geographical coordinates with a degree of accuracy that does not differ significantly from pillar site assessment and emplacement undertaken in the field. The Commission has therefore identified by these means the location of points for the emplacement of pillars as a physical manifestation of the boundary on the ground… Although these techniques have been available for some time, the Commission has not resorted to them because the actual fixing of boundary pillars, if at all possible, was the demarcation method of first choice. However, it is only possible to demarcate a boundary by the fixing of boundary pillars with the full cooperation of both the States concerned…”
On the same day, the EEBC sent a letter to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry. It was in response to a letter sent by the regime to the EEBC and circulated at the Security Council. In that letter the EEBC responded to Ethiopia’s tantrums by stating the following:
“…This was not the first time that the Security Council has called on Ethiopia to fulfil its obligations in respect of the Demarcation Decision. Nor is Ethiopia’s failure to respond positively to such a call the first time that it has disregarded the call of the Security Council. It is a matter of regret that Ethiopia has so persistently maintained a position of non-compliance with its obligations in relation to the Commission…There is no basis for the suggestion that the Commission has been appeasing Eritrea. Nor can such a suggestion, however unfounded, obscure the fact that Ethiopia has itself been in breach of its obligations under the Algiers Agreement in several important respects…The truth of the matter appears to be that Ethiopia is dissatisfied with the substance of the Commission’s Delimitation Decision and has been seeking, ever since April 2002, to find ways of changing it… I regret that it has been necessary to address you in such direct terms but your letter — and the publicity that you have given it — have left me with no alternative. It would be unacceptable for an international tribunal to be exposed to the kind of criticism which you have lodged without replying to it in necessary detail…”
Ethiopia and its handlers conducted an orchestrated diplomatic blitz to stop the EEBC from moving forward with the new approach.
As the American Embassy cables mentioned below show, there was never any genuine effort by the US and its partners to urge Ethiopia to abide by the rule of law. Instead, they promised to support Ethiopia’s intransigence and prevent the UN Security Council from taking any punitive actions against the belligerent regime. This also undermines the credibility, integrity, neutrality and efficacy of the UN Security Council and undermines the confidence of member states who will rely on its judiciousness and impartiality in resolving border disputes in the future.
On 30 November 2007 speaking to Voice of America’s (VoA) Peter Heinlein about the “virtual demarcation” of the Eritrea Ethiopia border, Meles Zenawi said:
“…As far as the virtual demarcation of the boundary is concerned, I have heard well-respected diplomats and lawyers describe it as ‘legal nonsense’…Our lawyers agree with such characterization. Until the boundary is demarcated on the ground, it is not demarcated. As soon as it is demarcated, there will be relocation of administrations, police and so forth. But not before that. Only after actual demarcation on the ground. And we prefer to engage the Eritrean side in pushing forwards toward demarcation…”
Interesting that Meles Zenawi would insist on demarcation on the ground when it was his regime that prevented the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) from doing just that.
Meles Zenawi presumed to know more about the law than the distinguished members of the Boundary Commission and in a letter dated 27 November 2007, Ethiopia asserted that the demarcation coordinates set out in the Commission’s Statement of 27 November 2006 “are invalid because they are not the product of a demarcation process recognized by international law”.
Again, in its 18 January 2008 letter to the President of the Security Council Ethiopia claimed that virtual demarcation had “no validity in international law” and that the coordinates are invalid “because they are not the product of a demarcation process recognized by international law.” The regime’s lawyers and “respected diplomats” must know that while placing pillars is accepted practice, not all international borders are demarcated with pillars.
As the EEBC said in its eloquent statement of 2006, “the feasibility and acceptability of the use of coordinates alone as a means of identifying international boundaries is clearly affirmed by the manner in which the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea deals with the limits of maritime claims by States.
Kathleen Claussen in “Invisible borders: Mapping out Virtual Law” dismisses Ethiopia’s arguments about precedence and legality of the approach used by the EEBC:
“…The actual process of carrying out all the calculations and measurements necessary for virtual demarcation varies depending on the technology employed. The most accurate and reliable method available today is stereophotogrammetry…Stereophotogrammetry is commonly used for marking points where it would be impossible to emplace monuments, such as on mountain tops. Geographers use stereophotogrammetry to ascertain a point that parties agree to on the basis of a particular set of stereo reference data. Thus, Ethiopia’s claim that there is no precedent for this type of demarcation is incorrect to the extent that stereophotogrammetry is used in these remote areas… With the precision and permanency of these geographic coordinates, this system would far out-last any monument and be less subject to abuse… many international lawyers concede that the monumentation principle is not, in fact, required by law. It is a purely technical operation of minor importance…”
The regime in Ethiopia has been emboldened by the US led international community, to flout international law, and the EEBC’s final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions. Judging from the list of apologists the Ethiopian Prime Minister relied on for political and diplomatic advice and support in the past, we will once again see that the “well respected” diplomats are almost all from the United States and Europe. As for his lawyers, they are the same lawyers who advised him that the EEBC decision was “illegal, unjust and irresponsible”, the same decision that he was forced to grudgingly accept.
So who were these “well respected diplomats” who were advising Ethiopia and preventing the Security Council from taking punitive actions against the regime for it occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories for the last 12 years?
For that we will refer to the US Embassy cables as they are the most definitive-not hearsay or innuendos-straight from the horse’s mouth as they say…
A/S FRAZER DISCUSSES SUDAN AND SOMALIA WITH FCO, DFID- 27 November 2006:
“…In meetings with FCO Minister for Africa Lord Triesman November 21 and Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn the next day, AF A/S Frazer stressed the need to adopt a UNSCR on Somalia flexible enough that frontline states could play a positive role. She also floated the suggestion of a UK-Norway initiative to break the deadlock in the Eritrea/Ethiopia boundary dispute…”
That is her way of saying, let Ethiopia-a front line state- have a role in Somalia… she also tries to bring to the table another “initiative”-a time buying gimmick to appease the regime in Ethiopia. The cable goes on:
“…A/S Frazer expressed appreciation for Lord Triesman’s earlier offer of whatever support the UK might be able to provide to facilitate resolution of the Eritrea/Ethiopia boundary dispute, including use of the prestigious Lancaster House where historic agreements have been concluded in the past. She said the USG has tried to revive the Boundary Commission process, but Isaias would not engage. Triesman admitted he was not sure who could get Isaias to respond positively, and Lloyd added “it’s not clear we’re the right people,” because Eritrea sees the UK as biased in favor of Ethiopia. Triesman was open to Dr. Frazer’s suggestion of a possible co-chair arrangement involving the UK and Norway. Both sides agreed that the Boundary Commission’s intent to proceed with “virtual demarcation” would do more harm than good. The British indicated they were working indirectly to nudge the Commissioners away from that course of action…”
ERITREA-ETHIOPIA BORDER IMPASSE: DEMARCHE RESPONSE-11 June 2007 -NORWAY:
“…discussed the Eritrea-Ethiopia border with Norwegian Deputy Permanent Representative Juul in the run-up to the November 27 deadline for demarcation by coordinates as imposed by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC)… PolMinCouns and Poloff presented reftel demarche on June 5 to Norwegian Deputy PermRep Mona Juul, Military Advisor Arve Lauritzen and Political Counselor Berit Enge. Juul reported on a meeting between Norwegian Minister of State Raymond Johanson and Eritrean President Isaias in Asmara on May 30, which she described as a “frank, open discussion,” which nevertheless revealed that “not much had changed” on Isaias’ part. Johanson and Isaias had spoken about “virtual demarcation” of the border, but Isaias had insisted that there be “stakes in the ground” before any dialogue with Ethiopia could begin. Juul said that Johanson’s arguments for an economic normalization of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea had not resonated with Isaias…PolMinsCouns asked if Isaias had given any indication of Eritrean intentions if demarcation by coordinates were to take place upon the EEBC’s scheduled departure in November, stressing that a major U.S. concern was what would happen after November. Juul said Isaias had downplayed any threat of war and had blamed the escalation of tensions squarely on Ethiopia…”
UNSC—ENGAGING INDONESIA ON ETHIOPIA-ERITREA AND UNMEE REPORT -7 November 2007-INDONESIA
“…Pol/C reviewed reftel points with Harry Purwanto, Director for North American Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DEPLU), November 8. Pol/C–noting ongoing tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea–urged Indonesia to avoid commenting publicly on the substantive merits of any decision by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC). He also stressed the need for countries to avoid putting any pressure on either country to take any specific action re the EEBC’s decisions or decision-making process…Purwanto expressed appreciation for the information and said he had so far not been aware of the issue. He said he would review the matter with relevant DEPLU officials using USG-provided points. Purwanto seriously doubted whether Indonesian officials would make any public statements on the Ethiopia-Eritrea border issue or on the work of the EEBC…”
SUBJECT: ERITREA/ETHIOPIA: FRANCE CONCURS ON APPROACH FOR UNSC MEETING -9 November 2007
“…Africa Watcher conveyed reftel demarche to MFA AF DAS for East Africa Helene Le Gal on November 8. Le Gal commented that France agreed on the need to support U/SYG Pascoe’s efforts and to allow space for the parties alone, as signatories of the Algiers Agreements, to decide the effect of and whether to implement the EEBC’s virtual demarcation decision…Maintaining that American and French views were similar, Le Gal expressed dissatisfaction with the plan of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) for virtual demarcation of the border by map coordinates at the end of November. Le Gal’s core objection was that the EEBC, which she called a valuable independent instrument, intended to disband after virtual demarcation. Without the EEBC, there would be a need either to reinvent it by establishing a new international body or some sort to monitor the crisis or else the Security Council itself would need to play a more frontline role, which could further escalate tensions. It was unlikely, however, that the French delegation would voice criticisms of the EEBC plan when the UNSC meets to consider the situation…”
SLOVAKIA REQUESTS CLARIFICATION ON UNMEE DEMARCHE -9 November 2009
“…Poloff delivered reftel demarche to Ambassador Vladimir Lomen at the UNSC Coordination Unit at MFA. Lomen promised to share US concerns within the MFA and with Slovakia’s mission to the UN. Lomen opined that encouraging UNSC members to avoid statements on the merits of the EEBC’s demarcation decision and to avoid putting any pressure on Ethiopia or Eritrea to take specific steps to implement that decision is a departure from past US policy on this issue. …Lomen said Slovak policy on this issue would likely be made in New York, and encouraged Poloff to have USUN offer a more clear explanation of the reasons for this request to Slovakia’s mission to the UN…”
EEBC: ITALY IN AGREEMENT WITH U.S. ON APPROACH TOWARD NOVEMBER 30 DEADLINE -17 November 2007
“…Poloff delivered reftel demarche to MFA East Africa Office Director Fabrizio Pignatelli November 15. Poloff sought Italian agreement on a unified approach to avoid pressure on Ethiopia and Eritrea to implement the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) “virtual demarcation” of the border by map coordinates. Pignatelli agreed enthusiastically with our points. He said Italy fully supports UN Under Secretary General Lynn Pascoe’s attempts to mediate the conflict, saying it was our best chance for lowering tensions and resolving the disputes between the parties…Pignatelli said he thought the conflict now boiled down to a question of face saving for both sides. Given Eritrea’s declaration in September that it would begin to remove its military forces from the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) as soon as demarcation begins, Pignatelli saw some room for hope, if enough trust could be restored to allow simultaneous commencement of demarcation on the ground and the removal of Eritrean troops from the TSZ. To supervise such a coordinated, simultaneous action, Pignatelli thought it might be possible to extend the mandate of the EEBC with the consent of both parties…”
RUSSIA CONCERNED ABOUT POSSIBILITY FOR VIOLENCE IN THE HORN OF AFRICA-21 November 2007
“…MFA International Organizations Counselor Albert Sitnikov told us on November 20 that while the GOR supported UNSC Presidential Statement 9169 urging both Ethiopia and Eritrea to accept and implement the EEBC’s delineation decision “without preconditions,” the GOR was opposed to the EEBC’s idea of “virtual demarcation” and believed it may lead to violence. According to Sitnikov, Lavrov called virtual demarcation “legal nonsense.” The GOR believed virtual demarcation falls outside of the Algiers Agreement and that it was up to involved parties how to demarcate the border. He said Russia would have to support Ethiopian withdrawal from the agreement were the EEBC to insist upon virtual demarcation…Deputy Director for Africa Nikolai Ratsiborinskiy told us the EEBC’s current proposal had paralyzed the situation. He noted that Lavrov had stated publicly that a virtual demarcation could destabilize the entire region, and the GOR believed signals from Asmara and Addis Ababa had hinted at their readiness to resume conflict…Commenting on the November 7 visit of Ethiopian FM Seyoum, Ratsiborinskiy said Lavrov told Seyoum privately the GOR would support Ethiopia’s opposition to virtual demarcation in the UNSC, but also warned Seyoum about statements and actions that could destabilize the fragile situation…GOR support for the UN Presidential Statement was carefully worded to support “delineation,” not “demarcation.” If Ethiopia does not recognize the EEBC’s virtual demarcation, the GOR has said it will be prepared to take its side in a UNSC debate…”
The US Embassy cables clearly show that, instead of upholding the rule of law and urging Ethiopia to abide by its treaty obligations, the United State and its allies were instead using their diplomatic clout to undermine the EEBC and its decisions regarding the Eritrea Ethiopia border. Yet, these same nations want to present themselves as nations that respect the rule of law. Is the rule of law different for African nations than it is for Europeans?
That does not bode well for peace, stability and security in our region, and it certainly does not give states much confidence in the UN Security Council (UNSC) and its ability to shoulder its moral and legal responsibilities. With so many new states being created and border conflicts on the rise, the UNSC will find itself irrelevant on issues relating to delimitation and demarcation of borders-matters of peace and security-its raison d’etre…
Today, Chatham House, the UK based think tank is audaciously telling Eritreans to accept the occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme and normalize relations with Ethiopia. In its April 2014 report, “Eritrea and Ethiopia: Beyond the Impasse”, Chatham House had the audacity to state the following:
“…First, the reality of Ethiopia’s demographic and, increasingly, economic predominance in the Horn of Africa must be understood, accepted and accommodated by its neighbours, including Eritrea, and by international actors. This is not to overstate Ethiopian inﬂuence, or to imply that its neighbours will simply become clients of Addis Ababa. However, it will probably mean violating the letter (if not the spirit) of the 2000 peace deal, and working around the EEBC ruling, since Ethiopia cannot be forced to comply with it…”
I doubt that Chatham House or any of the other such experts and analysts would dare ask Israel, a small nation surrounded by large countries with large populations and economies to allow such violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity-yet, they have no qualms making such outrageous remarks about Eritrea’s sovereign rights.
The duplicitous “experts” at Chatham House also omitted the 2007 virtual demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border in the timeline it provided in its reports. Omitting it from their reports and media is not going to make it disappear, as the final and binding delimitation and demarcation decisions of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s, exact coordinates and accompanying maps, have been deposited with the United Nations for posterity…
When will the US-led international community stop this policy of appeasement which is not only holding peace, stability and security of the Horn region hostage, but is also undermining international law and the credibility, integrity and efficacy of the UN Security Council?
When will the US led international community call a spade a spade and put an end to Ethiopia’s belligerence and lawlessness?
When will it call for an end to Ethiopia’s occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories, including Badme?
Ethiopia’s security is not going to be enhanced by its continued violation of international norms and laws, nor is appeasement by the US-led international community going to save the regime from the wrath of its own people, and those in the region who continue to suffer because of its aggressive wars of invasion and occupation. A regime that has refused to accept the final and binding ruling of the independent Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s delimitation and demarcation decisions, is not an honest partner for peace, and cannot be trusted.
Continued appeasement and cuddling of the minority regime in Ethiopia undermines the US led international community’s credibility, integrity, reputation in the region and will not advance its interests in the region, including that of “counter-terrorism” efforts, in which it considers Ethiopia to be its staunch ally.
A regime that does not respect international law, repeatedly violates the UN and African Union Charters, refuses to take responsibility for its actions, relies on crude diplomatic and political machinations to advance its interests, is a threat to peace in the region. The US led-international community ought to adhere to the principles of mutual respect and compliance to international law, which are at the center of peaceful coexistence between nations-big or small.
The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle!