UN Security Council Resolution 1640(2005) would serve only to escalate tension
By: Berhane Asgedom
December 5, 2005

The UN Security Council’s resolution 1640(2005) would not serve the purpose of peace and stability between Eritrea and Ethiopia in particular and the Horn region in general as it fails to address the root cause of the problem (non-demarcation).

As is well known the root causes of the current tension between the two countries are:

1 Ethiopia’s rejection of the “final and binding decisions of the Boundary Commission”;
2 Ethiopia’s forceful occupation of sovereign Eritrea territory and establishment of additional unlawful settlements;
3 Ethiopia’s withdrawal of its liaison officers and its boycott to attend a meeting in London convened by the Boundary Commission to finalize the Demarcation Directions, and finally;
4 Non-demarcation of the border according to the EBBC decision because of Ethiopia’s persistent obstruction.

All these are unlawful actions and a flagrant breach of the Algiers Peace Agreement on the part of the Ethiopian government. And yet from the side of the UN Security Council there is no threat of sanctions against Ethiopia over its violation and delay in honoring the border ruling.

It is evident that the UN Security Council’s role in maintaining peace and stability in the Horn region is not as it is expected to be. Beyond rhetoric, to date, the UN Security Council has not done enough to secure peace in the Horn region as it is enshrined in its charter. I really doubt whether or not the UNSC is interested in maintaining peace and stability in the Horn region. I doubt it because, if the Council is serious about peace in the Horn region, then it should have taken a concrete measure to solve the border conflict, a conflict that has the potential to destabilize the security of the entire region.

The UN Security Council in its resolution 1640(2005) has threatened a sanction on Eritrea if it failed to lift the UNMEE helicopter ban. It also threatened sanction against both countries if they did not pull their troops back to the 16 December 2004 levels of deployment. Truly speaking, however, the sanction that the Council is now threatening to impose, Article 41 of the United Nations Charter, was supposed to be imposed only to Ethiopia 2-3 years ago, when Ethiopia violated the Algiers Peace Agreement and the UN Charter to establish unlawful settlements in the sovereign Eritrean territory (July, 2002); when Ethiopia's Prime Minister officially informed the Security Council that his regime would not abide by the ''final and binding decisions of the Boundary Commission"(September 2003); and when Ethiopia persistently obstructed the demarcation process. This clearly depicts great powers bias and the Council’s continued un- even handed approach.

As we all know the central mandate of the UN Security Council is to promote the maintenance of regional peace and security and, not to complicate issues and create an atmosphere of tension and conflict. In light of this, therefore, the Council should remain neutral and adhere to solve the prevailing problem between Eritrea and Ethiopia according to the agreement the parties entered to (Algiers Agreement). Therefore, enforcing the implementation of the EBBC decision is the only way forward to solve once and for all the Eritrea and Ethiopia border problem. Any other attempt outside of this would not bear any fruit it would rather complicate the matter, escalate the current tension, and further delay the inevitable demarcation.

The UN Security Council is well aware of the fact that” lasting peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as in the region cannot be achieved without the full demarcation of the border between the parties.” Bearing this in mind, therefore, the UN Security Council in resolution 1640 (2005) should have attempted to address the root cause of the current tension (non-demarcation) and should have taken measures to guarantee the implementation of the full demarcation of the border. It is alarming to note, however, that the Security Council, in this resolution 1640 (2005) apart from expressing its demand that: “Ethiopia accept fully and without further delay the final and binding decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and take immediately concrete steps to enable, without preconditions, the Commission to demarcate the border completely and promptly”, has deliberately evaded the imposition of sanctions if Ethiopia fails to meet this demands.

UN Security Council’s resolution 1640 (2005) overlooked the central issue and the root cause of the tension (non-demarcation) and consequently made no attempt to address it. Due do this grave mistake; therefore, the resolution would fail to serve the purpose of peace rather it would escalate tension. Hence it should be rejected by the state of Eritrea, other peace loving nations, regional and international organization, and the international community at large.