For 7 years the people and Governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia have been subject to a treaty signed in 2000 that brought peace between both peoples. The peace brokered by this agreement is at risk given the occupation of territory by one party over another. The genesis of the occupation is presented below to better understand why the international community must act today to prevent a renewed conflict.
Article 12 of the Cessation of Hostilities agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia created the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). This was a 25 km zone defined by the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces. It was to keep Eritrean forces separated from Ethiopian soldiers (and artillery).
“In order to … create conditions conducive to a comprehensive and lasting settlement of the conflict through the delimitation and demarcation of the border… forces shall remain at a distance of 25 km… This zone of separation shall be referred to in this document as the ‘temporary security zone’.”1
This agreement also provided for the creation of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) which was tasked with the delimitation and demarcation of the boundary based on the pertinent colonial treaties. During the interceding years the EEBC heard the cases of each party and in 2002 came to a conclusion. This came in the form of a series of points2 that would be used for demarcation. It is these points that form the legal boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia today.
On November 30th, 2007 the EEBC issued a statement reiterating its press release of November 27th, 2006:
“…the [Boundary] Commission hereby determines that the boundary will automatically stand as demarcated by the boundary points listed in the Annex…”3
With this statement by the Boundary Commission the delimitation decision that they have promulgated has become the demarcated boundary between two sovereign states. As such, the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) as defined in Article 12 (above) no longer exists.
As both Eritrea and Ethiopia are both members in good standing in the United Nations, it is incumbent upon them to withdraw all forces to their respective countries with all due haste. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), in lieu of action taken by these parties, is tasked with upholding a judicial ruling.
When it is evident that the belligerents will not withdraw from occupied territory, it is incumbent upon the UNSC to execute Article 41 of the UN Charter, enact all manner of sanctions:
“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.”4
If the belligerent continues its occupation the UNSC is so tasked with executing Article 42, engaging in collective defense for the aggrieved party:
“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.”5
It is by these means that the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia, as well as the peoples of adjacent nations look to the United Nations and community of nations to behave in light of the grave transgressions upon the borders of Eritrea and Ethiopia. The occupation of territory is illegal and unjust, and should not have been allowed to occur on December 1st, 2007.