What's In Blue

Eritrean PR to Address Sanctions Committee

Tomorrow afternoon (18 April) the Council’s Sanctions Committee for Somalia and Eritrea (751 and 1907 Committee) is scheduled to hear from the Eritrean permanent representative Araya Desta. It appears that Desta was invited to meet with the Committee as members are interested in Eritrea’s perspective on some of the issues discussed at the Monitoring Group’s mid-term briefing last month. It is unclear if Desta will focus simply on the issues arising from the Monitoring Group’s report or if he will want to discuss some of the broader issues affecting Ethiopia and Eritrea (to which Eritrea would like the Council to pay more attention).

Since the Council first imposed sanctions against it on 23 December 2009 (S/RES/1907), Eritrea has repeatedly refuted the findings of the Monitoring Group and requested the sanctions to be lifted. On 5 December 2011, the Council adopted another resolution on Eritrea (S/RES/2023) which condemned Eritrea’s violations of previous Council resolutions and called on it to cease all efforts to destabilise other states in the region. It also imposed new measures to prevent it from using the diaspora tax or revenues from its mining sector. Since then, Eritrea has written a series of letters (e.g. S/2011/792; S/2012/126) to the Council protesting the sanctions against it and calling for the establishment of “an independent, impartial and credible body” in place of the Monitoring Group which it claimed lacked independence and impartiality.

In its letters, Eritrea has also consistently accused the Council of being one-sided in its approach. More specifically, it has repeatedly called on the Council to address the unresolved border dispute with Ethiopia and ensure respect for the final and binding arbitral ruling of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission (EEBC). It has also accused Ethiopia of flaunting international law and the UN Charter by occupying part of its territory. Eritrea has been particularly critical of the role played by the US in the region, accusing it of obstructing the implementation of the EEBC’s ruling.

For its part, Ethiopia—in a letter to the Council on 18 January (S/2012/44)— accused Eritrea of being responsible for a “terrorist attack” against a group of 22 tourists travelling in the Ethiopian state of Afar, in which five people were killed. It called on the international community to take responsibility for stopping such activities. In response, Eritrea wrote to the Council (S/2012/57) denying any involvement in the attack and urging the Council to “ensure Ethiopia’s prompt compliance with its treaty obligations and to respect international law.”

Ethiopia’s 15 March incursion into Eritrean territory prompted another round of letters to the Council from both sides. Ethiopia wrote a letter on 14 March invoking its right to self-defence (S/2012/158) while Eritrea, on 16 March, called on the Council “to shoulder its legal and moral responsibilities” and take “appropriate measures to rectify acts of aggression” against Eritrea (S/2012/164). Then, on 27 March, Eritrea directly accused the US of being responsible for illegal attacks against it and requested the Council “to form an independent, transparent and accountable inquiry body” to investigate this claim (S/2012/181).While in the past Eritrea’s position has found little sympathy among Council members, it is unclear whether the change in the Council’s composition this year will in any way impact the Council’s approach.

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