15 March 2006

Security Council Extends Mandate of Ethiopia/Eritrea Mission for One Month, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1661 (2006)

NEW YORK, 14 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council decided this morning to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) for one month until 15 April 2006.

Unanimously adopting resolution 1661 (2006), the Council demanded that the two parties comply fully with resolution 1640 (2005), particularly paragraphs 1 and 5.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 10:10 a.m.

Council Resolution

The full text of resolution 1661 (2006) reads, as follows:

"The Security Council,

"Reaffirming all its previous resolutions and statements pertaining to the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the requirements contained therein, including in particular resolutions 1622 (2005) of 13 September 2005 and 1640 (2005) of 23 November 2005, as well as the statement of its President of 24 February 2006 (S/PRST/2006/10),

"Stressing its unwavering commitment to the peace process, and to the full and expeditious implementation of the Algiers Agreements,

"Stressing further that lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea (hereinafter referred to as "the parties") as well as in the region cannot be achieved without the full demarcation of the border between the two parties, and recalling that both parties have agreed to accept the delimitation and demarcation decisions of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) as final and binding,

"Reaffirming its strong commitment to ensure that the two parties permit the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) to perform its duties without restrictions and provide UNMEE with the necessary access, assistance, support and protection required for the performance of these duties, and in this regard stressing that demarcation of the border cannot proceed effectively unless UNMEE is allowed full freedom of movement throughout its area of operations,

"Welcoming the successful convening of the meeting of the Witnesses to the Algiers Agreements on 22 February 2006 in New York, as well as the convening of the EEBC meeting on 10 March 2006 in London, "Bearing in mind the reports of the Secretary-General of 3 January 2006 (S/2006/1) and of 6 March 2006 (S/2006/140) and the options on the future of UNMEE contained therein,

"Decides to extend the mandate of UNMEE for a period of one month until 15 April 2006;

"Demands that the two parties fully comply with resolution 1640 (2005), in particular paragraphs 1 and 5;

"Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."


Before the Council was the Secretary-General's report in which he recommends extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) for two to three months.

In the report ((document S/2006/140), dated 6 March and covering the period since 3 January, the Secretary-General observes that the protracted stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea remains a source of great concern and urges the two partiers to take the necessary steps to move the peace process forward.  If the present situation persists, any miscalculation could result in a rapid escalation, with unpredictable consequences for the two countries and for regional stability.

The Secretary-General states that the impasse in the peace process has become increasingly untenable and that the diplomatic initiative of the United States, as well as the 22 February meeting of witnesses held in New York, are, therefore, important developments.  It is a source of encouragement that the witnesses have demonstrated resolve and unity, calling upon the parties to fulfil their commitments under the Algiers Agreement, as well as for the early demarcation of the border.  The Council's endorsement of that accord, in its presidential statement of 24 February (document S/PRST/2006/10) reflects the international community's renewed commitment to support the parties in the full implementation of their obligations under the Agreement.

In view of the ongoing United States diplomatic initiative, the Security Council decided to maintain UNMEE's current configuration for the time being, the Secretary-General notes.  In the circumstances, the extension of the Mission's mandate would allow for the diplomatic process to proceed and the forthcoming meeting of the Boundary Commission to bear fruit.  For the initiative to proceed, all restrictions on UNMEE operations have to be lifted and, in order for the Mission to be able to support the demarcation process, it must be able to perform its duties without restrictions and with full freedom of movement throughout its area of operations, including as regards the use of its air assets and the availability of all its staff, irrespective of their nationality, in both host countries.

The report also covers the status of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ); the status of the Mission and related issues; the diplomatic initiative; mine action; human rights; public information; humanitarian developments; and financial aspects.

* *** *