A range of international sanctions imposed against Eritrea nearly a decade ago, were unanimously lifted by the Security Council on Wednesday, four months after the signing of an historic peace agreement with Ethiopia in July.
It was hailed by UN Chief António Guterres at the time as an example of “a wind blowing in the direction of peace”, and relations have consistently improved since then. As part of the agreement, Ethiopia pushed for the Security Council to lift the sanctions, which concerned arms embargoes, travel bans, asset freezes and targeted sanctions focusing on certain groups and individuals.
The Eritrean Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr. Amanuel Giorgio, hailed the lifting of the sanctions as marking the end of a difficult period for Eritrea and the region: “On this historic day I am humbled to congratulate the people of Eritrea, who have endured persistent existent pressure…Eritrea as a nation is committed to work with all its neighbours. The peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and the tripartite agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, mark the beginning of a new dawn,” he said, adding that “it is the time to redouble efforts and work closely with neighbours to build a region at peace with itself.”
The United Kingdom was the penholder (the country which chaired the drafting process) of the resolution to lift sanctions, and the UK’s Ambassador to the UN, Karen Pierce, said that the resolution recognizes improvements in regional peace and security: “Not only is it a very important step for the countries in the region, I think it sends a helpful wider signal to the international community that, if the right steps are taken, that sanctions can be lifted.”
Speaking on behalf of Ethiopia, Taye Atske Selassie Made, Permanent Representative of his country to the UN, welcomed “unreservedly” the adoption of the resolution which, he said, his country fully supports.
“We are supporting this resolution today at a time when a major and historic development is unfolding in the Horn of Africa”, he said. “The breakthrough arising from the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea is already producing unprecedented and far-reaching positive consequences and is significantly changing the political landscape of the Horn of Africa and beyond.”
The Security Council meeting also reaffirmed the arms embargo on Somalia, and requested that the UN Secretary-General conduct a technical assessment of the embargo in force against the country.