SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS ETHIOPIA/ERITREA MISSION
NEW YORK, 15 March (UN Headquarters) -- Reaffirming its strong support for the role played by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the implementation of its mandate and facilitation of a peaceful settlement of the dispute, the Security Council this morning extended the Mission's mandate until 15 September.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1398 (2002), the Council also expressed its satisfaction and anticipation that a final legal settlement of the border issues was about to be reached in accordance with the Algiers Agreements, and welcomed recent statements by both parties reaffirming that the upcoming border delimitation determination by the Boundary Commission was final and binding.
Also, the Council called again on Eritrea, notwithstanding the prior notification procedure, to provide UNMEE with full freedom of movement to monitor the redeployed forces, to disclose the number, strength and disposition of its militia and police inside the Temporary Security Zone, and to conclude the status-of-forces agreement with the Secretary-General.
The Council also urged Ethiopia to provide the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre with clarifications to the information already put forward, as promised in that regard.
Further, the Council expressed its concern that there had been no progress regarding the establishment of a direct high-altitude flight route for UNMEE between Asmara and Addis Ababa and called again on the parties to work with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in a spirit of compromise to settle the issue.
In addition, the Council called on the parties to release and return without delay all remaining prisoners of war and civilian internees under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and the Algiers Agreements.
The meeting, which began at 12:27 p.m., adjourned at 12:30 p.m.
The full text of resolution 1398 (2002) reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling resolutions 1298 (2000) of 17 May 2000, 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000, 1312 (2000) of 31 July 2000, 1320 (2000) of 15 September 2000, 1344 (2001) of 15 March 2001 and 1369 (2001) of 14 September 2001, the statements of its President of 9 February 2001 (S/PRST/2001/4), 15 May 2001 (S/PRST/2001/14) and of 15 January 2002 (S/PRST/2002/1), and all other relevant previous resolutions and statements pertaining to the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea,
"Further recalling the report of 27 February 2002 of the Security Council Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea undertaken in the period 21 to 25 February 2002 (S/2002/205),
"Reaffirming the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ethiopia and Eritrea,
"Further reaffirming the need for both parties to fulfil their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, and to ensure the safety of all personnel of the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other humanitarian organizations,
"Reaffirming its strong support for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of the State of Eritrea and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, signed in Algiers on 12 December 2000 (S/2000/1183), and the preceding Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities (S/2000/601), signed in Algiers on 18 June 2000 (hereafter referred to collectively as the ‘Algiers Agreements’),
"Further reaffirming its strong support for the help in implementing the Algiers Agreements continuously provided by the Secretary-General and his Special Representative, including through their good offices,
"Reaffirming its strong support for the role played by the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) in the implementation of its mandate and facilitation of a peaceful settlement of the dispute,
"Further reaffirming its strong support for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Liaison Mission in Ethiopia-Eritrea (OLMEE) and inviting the Secretary-General of OAU to continue the organization’s full support of the peace process,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 8 March 2002 (S/2002/245),
"1. Decides to extend the mandate of UNMEE at the troop and military observer levels authorized by its resolution 1320 (2000) until 15 September 2002;
"2. Expresses its satisfaction and anticipation that a final legal settlement of the border issues is about to be reached in accordance with the Algiers Agreements, and welcomes in this regard recent statements by both parties reaffirming that the upcoming border delimitation determination (hereafter referred to as "the decision") by the Boundary Commission is final and binding,
"3. Commends the parties on the progress made thus far in implementing the Algiers Agreements, including the continued observance of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and the steps taken in cooperation with the United Nations Cartographer to prepare for the implementation of the decision by the Boundary Commission once it is announced;
"4. Calls on the parties to cooperate fully and expeditiously with UNMEE in the further implementation of its mandate, to abide scrupulously by the letter and spirit of their agreements and to engage closely with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General regarding the implementation of the decision by the Boundary Commission, including expeditiously engaging with UNMEE on their plans for the demining necessary for demarcation;
"5. Emphasizes the importance of ensuring expeditious implementation of the upcoming decision by the Boundary Commission while maintaining stability in all areas affected by the decision, and encourages the parties to consider further practical ways and means of conducting implementation-related consultations, possibly through appropriate strengthening of the Military Coordination Commission and/or other arrangement with the support of the guarantors, facilitators and witnesses of the Algiers Agreements;
"6. Further emphasizes that in accordance with article 14 of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, the security arrangements are to remain in effect, and that, accordingly, arrangements for the separation of forces, as achieved by the TSZ, will continue to be of key importance;
"7. Emphasizes that any transfer of territory and civil authority, as well as population movements and movements of troops, pursuant to the decision by the Boundary Commission, should take place in an orderly manner through dialogue and modalities facilitated by the United Nations, in accordance with article 4.16 of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and without any unilateral actions;
"8. Further emphasizes that until the border demarcation has been completed, UNMEE will continue to discharge its mandate;
"9. Emphasizes its resolve to support the parties in the implementation of the decision by the Boundary Commission and invites the Secretary-General to submit, as soon as possible, recommendations to the Council on how UNMEE can play an appropriate role in the border demarcation process, including with regard to demining for demarcation, taking into account the decision by the Boundary Commission, the contributions by the parties, the capacity of UNMEE and the resources available in the United Nations Trust Fund in support of the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Border between Ethiopia and Eritrea;
"10. Calls again on Eritrea, notwithstanding the prior notification procedure, to provide UNMEE with full freedom of movement to monitor the redeployed forces, to disclose the number, strength and disposition of its militia and police inside the TSZ, and to conclude the status-of-forces agreement with the Secretary-General;
"11. Urges Ethiopia to provide the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre with clarifications to the information already put forward, as promised in this regard;
"12. Expresses its concern that there has been no progress regarding the establishment of a direct high-altitude flight route for UNMEE between Asmara and Addis Ababa, and calls again on the parties to work with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in a spirit of compromise to settle the issue for the mutual benefit of all;
"13. Calls on the parties to release and return without further delay all remaining prisoners of war and civilian internees under the auspices of the ICRC in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and the Algiers Agreements;
"14. Further calls on the parties to take other measures that will build confidence and promote reconciliation between the two peoples for their mutual benefit, including by affording humane treatment to each other’s nationals in accordance with the Algiers Agreements; facilitating sustainable reintegration of refugees, internally displaced persons and demobilized soldiers; promoting cross-border contacts at the local level aimed at resolving disputes and rebuilding community relations; and by facilitating further dialogue among civil society at all levels in the two countries, such as that recently undertaken by the religious leaders;
"15. Encourages the parties to make arrangements enabling UNMEE to disseminate information to relevant population groups in the mission area about the delimitation and demarcation of the border between the two countries and the role of the United Nations in this regard;
"16. Further encourages the parties to focus on reconstruction and development of their economies and on improving their relations, for the benefit of all the people and with the view to promoting regional peace and security;
"17. Encourages the guarantors, facilitators and witnesses of the Algiers Agreements to provide their continued support for the peace process and invites all States and international organizations to support the process, including by exercising the highest degree of responsibility in discouraging arms flows to the region and through providing contributions to the Trust Fund to Support the Peace Process in Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Trust Fund for the Delimitation and Demarcation of the Border between Ethiopia and Eritrea and to the United Nations Consolidated Appeals Process for 2002;
"18. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
When the Security Council met this afternoon it had before it a progress report of the Secretary-General on UNMEE (document S/2002/245), in which he recommends that UNMEE's mandate be extended for six months until 15 September.
The report, which provides an overview of developments in the region since the Secretary-General's previous report of 13 December 2001, describes the situation in the Temporary Security Zone between the two countries as generally calm. The parties continued, with few exceptions, to respect the boundaries and integrity of the Zone. There were few incidents along the southern boundary and fewer allegations exchanged by the parties. The UNMEE intensified its monitoring of the redeployed forces of Eritrea through two separate monitoring operations. The Mission was also able to improve its liaison relations with Eritrean officers.
As a result, the report continues, despite continued restrictions on its freedom of movement in the adjacent area north of the Zone, UNMEE has acquired a good understanding of developments both inside the Zone and in the areas adjacent to it. There is no evidence so far of a change of posture by either party.
With the independent Boundary Commission's decision on delimitation of the border between the two countries fast approaching, the report states that the leaders of the two countries should be commended for having left much of the war’s legacy behind them. The successful conclusion of the peace process on the basis of a legal settlement of the conflict will set an example for the rest of the African continent, and the whole international community.
The Secretary-General writes that the delimitation and demarcation of the border represents an important milestone in the peace process, and calls on all Member States concerned, and the OAU, to continue to support it, politically as well as financially. However, the implementation of the Commission's decision, which will be final and binding, will also continue to demand statesmanship on the part of the two Governments and their leaders.
On 31 January, the Secretary-General continues, he sent identical letters to the leader of each country, conveying to them his view that the time had come to initiate discussions on a range of issues relating to the next phase of the peace process. Accordingly, his Special Representative, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, had been instructed, in close cooperation with the OAU, to commence discussions with the two parties on the modalities and procedures for the smooth and expeditious implementation of the Boundary Commission's decision.
In that context, the Secretary-General recommends that a wide-ranging mechanism aimed at consultation and problem-solving during the implementation of the delimitation decision be established. In addition to the parties and UNMEE, it would be useful if the guarantors, facilitators and witnesses were also included in such a mechanism.
While the Commission's decision is being implemented on the ground, it will be equally important to continue assisting the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia to overcome their humanitarian difficulties, the report states. Together with reconstruction and development, however, the two parties will need assistance to attain the ultimate objective of the peace process, namely reconciliation and normalization of their bilateral relations. The United Nations strongly supports confidence-building initiatives, such as the meetings of religious leaders, and encourages the parties to search for mutually agreeable ways of building trust through increased official and unofficial contacts with each other.
Undoubtedly, the recent Council mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea had a positive effect on the peace process, the report states. The views and observations presented in the report of the mission [for background information on that document (S/2002/205), see Press Release SC/7321] are fully consistent with the Secretary-General's own, and he encourages the Council to reflect them in their deliberations.
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