Badme: The African West Bank (?)
May 6, 2003
Badme and the West Bank might belong to two different continents, but they have something in common, i.e., both areas are being occupied illegally and despite UN's resolutions asking the occupiers to vacate, the occupiers in both areas are continuing with their illegal resettlements. Ethiopian leaders, despite the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) verdict, they are building new settlements in Badme and its environs to frustrate the two years old peace process. After signing the Algiers' peace agreement, Ethiopia right under the noses of UN peace keeping forces resettled thousands of Ethiopians in the then disputed areas. Such flagrant violation took place before even the very ink of the peace deal dried. Noting the grave consequence of such reckless action, UNSC called on Ethiopia to evacuate those illegal settlers from the then disputed areas, however Ethiopia never relocated those settlers. On the contrary, it is renewing its effort for new settlements even after the fate of those disputed areas clearly determined by the EEBC. According IRIN, the authorities in Tigray region are planning to build another four hundred housing for new settlers and spend a couple million dollars to build other amenities while fully knowing the fact that the EEBC had already determined that Badme is within internationally recognized borders of a sovereign state of Eritrea.1
These flagrant violations of UNSC resolutions by a member nation is putting the viability of United Nations in resolving any present and future conflicts in Africa in particular and the world in general under very serious scrutiny. UNSG, Mr. Kofi Anan has hailed the Algiers peace treaty as a milestone achievement for Africa in setting a new precedent that Africa too could settle its bloody conflicts by adhering to international laws and norms.
The other fact that made the Algiers peace agreement a unique case in Africa is the fact that international community was extremely generous in manning and financing UNMEE to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the peace agreement. So far, United nation has spent around half a billion dollars to keep UNMEE execute its mandates. The guarantors of the peace process - UN, AU, EU, USA and Algeria have been kept informed about every single meeting between UNGS special representative- Mr. Legwaila Joseph Legewaila and the two parties. These meeting helped the guarantors of the peace agrement to have a very deep understanding of the behavior of the two parties in fulfilling their duties and responsibilities to achieve the objectives of the agreement. These meetings have definitely enabled the guarantors of the agreement to identify which party has been sabotaging the peace process and which party has been adhering to the letter and sprit of the peace deal. So there could be no any excuse for Mr. Kofi Anan and the guarantors of the peace deal for not telling the violator of the most expensive peace keeping endeavor in sub Saharan Africa to abide by the provisions of the peace agreement and international laws and norms or face the consequences. In fact, if Mr. Kofi Anan and the guarantors of the peace agreement failed to stop Ethiopia from violating the provisions of the peace deal, they themselves could be held accountable for any consequences. If Mr. Kofi Anan failed to enforce Article Seven of UNSC resolution on the peace deal on the violator party, he could personally be held accountable for any consequences of a war that could arise due to flagrant violation of UNSC resolutions by Ethiopian leaders.
One can forgive Mr. Kofi Anan for his failure as UNSG special representative to Africa to stop the massacre in Rwanda. However, no one can forgive him if he as UNSG failed to fully enforce provisions of the Algiers peace agreement because failing to execute his duties will definitely encourage Ethiopia to cause the reoccurrence of carnage of Ethio-Eritrean conflict and that will defiantly leave an irremovable stain in his legacy as the first UNSG from Black Africa. During the course of the two years peace process, it has been apparent that he has put too much emphasis on the successful conclusions of the Algiers peace agreement and has been trying to present it as a showcase for the rest of Africa and the western world that Africa too is capable to solve its problems in a civilized manner. However, he should understand that every thing is well if it ends well and he can not afford to allow Ethiopia shatter the peace deal and thereby fail Africa, the international community and him on personal level.
If UN and the guarantors of the Algiers peace deal failed to uphold the provisions of agreement, they are setting dangerous precedent in tackling any future conflicts in Africa. Now the matter is not between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the matter is between the guarantors of the peace deal and Ethiopia. The final verdict by EEBC didn't only cornered Ethiopia which all along has been the only violator of international laws and norms but also it put United Nations on a litmus test that if it can enforce its own resolutions or become an ineffective organization in resolving any present and future conflicts around world for its failure to enforce its own resolutions.
UN's failure to implement its own resolution in the Israeli-Palestine conflict has resulted in decades of violence and deaths. Implementing the Algiers peace deal to its letter and spirit is a golden opportunity for UN and the rest of the guarantors of the agreement to tell the world that UN resolutions mean something and violators are punished without impunity.