Ethiopia/Eritrea: Annan recommends six-month extension for UN Mission

Ethiopia/Eritrea: Annan recommends six-month extension for UN Mission

In anticipation of an imminent decision by an independent commission on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has recommended extending for six months – until 15 September – the mandate of the United Nations Mission (UNMEE) to the two countries in order to support the implementation of that verdict.

“The implementation of the Boundary 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,” the Secretary-General says in a progress report to the Security Council that was released today at UN Headquarters in New York. “The United Nations and its peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea will remain committed to playing a major role through delimitation and demarcation.”

Depending on the outcome of the delimitation decision and the requirements for its implementation, Mr. Annan says he will revert to the Council with recommendations on the possible support that UNMEE could provide in this regard.

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General notes that in January he wrote identical letters to the leaders of the two countries saying that it was time to start talks on a range of issues relating to the next phase of the peace process. He also instructed his Special Representative, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, to follow-up with the two parties on the modalities and procedures for the “smooth and expeditious” implementation of the Boundary Commission’s decision.

In this 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, which, in addition to the parties and UNMEE, “would be useful if the guarantors, facilitators and witnesses were also included in such a mechanism.”

Besides implementation of the Boundary Commission’s decision, Mr. Annan points out that it will be equally important to continue helping the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia to overcome their humanitarian difficulties. Together with reconstruction and development, the two parties will also need assistance to attain the ultimate objective of the peace process, namely reconciliation and normalization of their bilateral relations, he writes.

“The United Nations strongly supports confidence-building initiatives such as the meetings of the religious leaders, and encourages the parties to search for mutually agreeable ways of building trust through increased official and unofficial contacts with each other,” the Secretary-General says. “The international community stands ready to assist the parties in this regard.”