Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to receive the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), and may subsequently issue either a presidential or press statement. UNMEE’s mandate expires on 31 January 2008.
On 31 July the Council adopted resolution 1767 which, among other things, reiterated its demand that Eritrea immediately withdraw its troops from the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and reverse all restrictions on UNMEE. It also called on Ethiopia to reduce the number of additional forces introduced in areas adjacent to the Zone. It expressed regret at the lack of progress on demarcation, and called upon the parties to implement the delimitation decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) and to participate constructively in the 6 September meeting to be convened by that body in New York.
The EEBC meeting on 6 September was moved to The Hague after objections by Ethiopia. It was convened to advance the demarcation process but failed to make any progress. The Commission subsequently stated that it will announce the demarcation of the borders by map coordinates at the end of November. Ethiopia said this was unacceptable.
Tensions increased in September following reports that Ethiopian and Eritrean troops were face to face in the TSZ. The high-profile meeting in Asmara of Somali factions threatening to forcibly eject Ethiopian forces from Mogadishu further highlighted the regional dimensions of the tensions.
On 25 September there were reports of an Ethiopian notification to Asmara, declaring Eritrea in material breach of the 2000 Algiers agreement pursuant to which the EEBC was established; subsequently, Ethiopia said this allowed it to terminate or suspend the agreement.
Other issues include links between bilateral tensions and instability in the wider region, especially Somalia, and the failure of past alternatives for resolving the deadlock.
deciding to reassess the situation soon-and certainly well before the EEBC’s November deadline-because of the possible impact and implications if the current stalemate persists;
working to deter Ethiopia from further threats vis-à-vis the Algiers agreement;
maintaining its earlier position by simply repeating its demands for Ethiopia to accept fully and without delay the boundary decision and for the immediate withdrawal of Eritrea’s troops from the TSZ and for lifting restrictions on UNMEE;
encouraging the appointment of a new Special Representative (the post has been vacant since May 2006) to head UNMEE to facilitate the process of finding a solution to the impasse; and
mandating its working group on peacekeeping operations to take up the issue as a matter of urgency and encouraging the working group to meet regularly with the two countries.
But until now, most members seem to have preferred the cautious approach of repeating calls for restraint and expressions of concern with the ongoing tensions.
Despite challenges posed to the implementation of UNMEE’s monitoring mandate, its deterrent role has been generally recognised by the Council and serves to demonstrate its commitment to peaceful resolution of the dispute.
Belgium is the lead country in the Council on the issue.
The prospect of violent conflict remains if the deterrent effect of UNMEE is removed and if the Algiers commitment collapses. The ongoing combination of smaller troop size and restrictions imposed on UNMEE could lead to more difficulties in maintaining the security of the TSZ between the parties.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Secretary-General’s Reports|
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission|
|Vacant, pending appointment; acting representative Azouz Ennifar (Tunisia)|
|Size and Composition|
|Approved budget: 1 July 2007-30 June 2008: $118.99 million|
|31 July 2000 to present; mandate expires 31 January 2008|