DEMARCATION: The Best, Right and Practical Solution
By: Sophia Tesfamariam
January 25, 2006

The reason the Final and Binding decision of the EEBC delivered on 13 April 2002 has not been expeditiously implemented is not because Ethiopia has the diplomatic skill or the capacity and the resources to reject the UN Security Council endorsed decision, but because the countries with the means, resources, capabilities and capacity are neglecting to shoulder their moral and legal responsibilities of enforcing the rule of law and numerous UNSC resolutions and decisions, by not taking appropriate punitive actions against the defiant expansionist, aggressive, minority regime in Ethiopia, as stipulated in the December 2000 Algiers Agreements and as clearly spelled out in the UN Charter. As a result, what we see today in the Horn of Africa is the threat of another war between Eritrea and Ethiopia with disastrous regional and international implications.

In spite of this reality in the Horn of Africa, highly paid diplomats, experts, think tanks, journalists, analysts, spin doctors etc. who spend their time making speculative analysis and formulating different scenarios from the comfort of their luxurious offices, are today wasting more of our tax payer monies with hairsplitting analysis such as "where do we go from here?", "what should we do next?", "how do we unravel the stalemate?", etc. etc. The technical matter of demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border does not require expensive analysis, research, or a rocket scientist.

The Final and Binding decision was rendered unanimously by the five distinguished Eritrea Ethiopia Border Commissioners and it was endorsed by the UN Security Council. The demarcation directives, instructions, procedures and orders which were endorsed by the two parties are also already in place. What is missing is enforcement. If these folks really truly care, as they claim, for the welfare of the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as the peace and security of the region, they should only ask two simple questions.

  1. What happens if the Eritrea Ethiopia border is demarcated?
  2. What happens if the Eritrea Ethiopia border is not demarcated?

The answers will be simple, black and white and clear.

If the Eritrea Ethiopia border is demarcated

If the Eritrea Ethiopia border is not demarcated

· The dark cloud of war will be replaced with a ray of peace

· War is eminent. The dark cloud of war, suspense and tension will linger over the region.

· Thousands of soldiers from both countries will be demobilized and fully deployed in productive development economic activities

· Thousands of soldiers from both countries will bleed the two countries of their meager resources.

· Money earned from internal economic activities and funds accumulated from external sources in the name of development assistance, budget support and debt reduction will be utilized to build schools, hospitals, clinics, and other infrastructure to benefit the poor people of Eritrea and Ethiopia

· All resources accumulated from internal and external sources will be squandered for the purchase of armaments. We should not forget that foreign aid is fungible. Schools, hospitals, clinic and other infrastructure will be destroyed

· Cultivable and agricultural land will be cleared of mines thus increasing agricultural productivity and enhancing food security.

· More cultivable and fertile land will be infested with landmines that will further aggravate the famine and drought situation in both countries.

· Neighborly trust and cooperation will be restored between the two governments and people to people relations will be rekindled, expanded and consolidated.

· Suspicion and confrontation between the two governments will intensify; trust, confidence and historical brotherly relations between the two people will be weakened, if not severed indefinitely.

· Cross border trade and free movement of people will flourish

· Cross border trade and free movement of people will not only be impossible but the people and the infrastructure in the border areas will be the first victims of the disastrous war.

· Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) can return to their homes and villages, become productive citizens.

· Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) will increase by ten fold, thus creating additional humanitarian aid recipients and dependent citizens.

· Peace and security will prevail in the region thus encouraging the flow of direct foreign investments

· Crisis and chaos will prevail in the region thus preventing potential investors from coming to the area.

· Not more than 30,000 people may be affected from both sides by the transfer of territories.

· More than 1 million people will become refugees and IDPs.

· The loss of human lives and destruction of infrastructures will be aborted or avoided.

· More than 200,000 will loose their lives and infrastructure will be destroyed.

· Personnel deployed to serve with the United Nations Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) can go back to their respective countries to be re-united with their beloved families

· Personnel deployed with UNMEE will be harms way and possibly their remains might go to their respective countries in body bags.

· The more than $200 million /year UN expenditure can be allocated for development activities in Eritrea and Ethiopia or can be utilized to support other UN peace keeping missions.

· Additional funds and human resources will be required to address the humanitarian catastrophe.

· The role, mandate and integrity of the UN Security Council will be appreciated and respected

· The role, mandate, and integrity of the UN Security Council will be compromised and undermined. And precedence to violate the rule of law will be created.

· The rule of law will prevail over the law of the jungle

· The law of the jungle will prevail over the rule of law and "Might is right" will be the norm of international diplomacy


If the international community is serious about moving the so called "stalled" demarcation process, the solution is simple and clear. The highly paid diplomats, experts, think tanks, journalists, analysts, spin doctors etc should stop producing endless hairsplitting analysis, predictions and scenarios such as "Meles will fall", "Ethiopia is a big country and Eritrea is a small country", "Ethiopia will disintegrate and become another Somalia", "Eritrea has the moral high ground", "Dialogue is the way forward" etc. etc. For the sake of the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia and for the sake of regional and international peace and security, the international community and the UN Security Council should take appropriate punitive measures against the belligerent, defiant, aggressive, and expansionist government in Ethiopia, by invoking Chapter VII as stipulated in the Algiers Agreement, and as articulated in Articles 41 and 42 of the UN Charter.

Article 14 of the Algiers Agreements says:

"The OAU and the United Nations commit themselves to guarantee the respect for this commitment of the two Parties until the determination of the common border on the basis of pertinent colonial treaties and applicable international law... This guarantee shall be comprised of... measures to be taken by the international community should one or both of the Parties violate this commitment, including appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter by the UN Security Council;"

Article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter states:

"The Security Council may decide what measures not involving the use of armed force are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the Members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations"

And Article 42 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter states:  

"Should the Security Council consider that measures provided for in Article 41 would be inadequate or have proved to be inadequate, it may take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. Such action may include demonstrations, blockade, and other operations by air, sea, or land forces of Members of the United Nations."

The only way forward for peace, stability and prosperity in the Horn of Africa is by respecting the rule of law, the inviolability of colonial boundaries, the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states and expeditious demarcation of the Eritrea Ethiopia border in accordance with the EEBC’s Final and Binding decision, its demarcation directives, procedures and orders.

The rule of law must prevail over the law of the jungle.


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