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Border Demarcation: Current State

Peacekeeping operations are not to be permanent. They are temporary operations meant to provide an environment and sometimes be a catalyst for self sustaining peace. They are meant to stabilize conflict situations after a cease fire and to assist in the implementation of comprehensive peace agreements. (( UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations – Mission Statement ))

Specifically, the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) was to monitor the cessation of hostilities and the redeployment of forces. As with any temporary intervention the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) provided specific conditions to be met for the withdrawal of the force,

“The Security Council emphasized that the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities linked the termination of the United Nations peacekeeping mission with the completion of the process of delimitation and demarcation of the Ethiopian-Eritrean border.” (( UNMEE – Mandate ))

On 1 December 2007, well over two months ago the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) dissolved itself after concluding that it had delimited, and sufficiently demarcated the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In the words of the EEBC,

“… [the] Commission hereby determines that the boundary will automatically stand as demarcated by the boundary points listed…and that the mandate of the Commission can then be regarded as fulfilled.” (( EEBC – 30 November 2007 Press Release ))

Thus, on 1 December 2007 the mandate of UNMEE was fulfilled and EEBC dissolved itself.

The measure of UNMEE’s success would have been the speed that the boundary markers were erected. However, as the only option to a successful demarcation was a listing of boundary turning points on a map, thus although the boundary was demarcated, it was not done to the level initially anticipated. Although regretful, it is acceptable and with precedent. Since the successful demarcation of the boundary the Government of Eritrea anticipated the speedy withdrawal of the UNMEE military force along with the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces from its territory.

Neither has yet occurred, although the withdrawal of UNMEE seems close at hand. This is not do to the voluntary withdrawal of the UNMEE force, but rather withdrawal due to a lack of fuel. The Secretary-General of the UN has issued an ultimatum to the Government of Eritrea to allow the provision of fuel to a now defunct Mission. (( Security Council Press Statement on Ethiopia and Eritrea )) This request for fuel is to continue the mission, a mission whose mandate is now concluded. This could only serve as a USD 200 million drain on the UN peacekeeping budget. The time has come to end this massively wasteful deployment.

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