I am writing to you to seek your assistance to help us overcome the challenge that the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea is facing. Despite the veneer of normalcy in the work of the Boundary Commission, I am afraid the work of the Commission is in terminal crisis.
The key to the crisis of the work of the Commission is its totally illegal, unjust, and irresponsible decision on Badme and parts of the Central Sector. The Colonial treaties which are the basis of the Algiers Agreement and which should have been the key basis for the delimitation and demarcation of the boundary leave Badme inside Ethiopia. This is also the Commission's own interpretation of the relevant Treaty. Nonetheless, the Commission chose to base its decision on state practice, and having done so, it went on and awarded Badme to Eritrea despite the overwhelming evidence produced by Ethiopia proving that Badme had always been administered by Ethiopia. Eritrea could not produce even a single document to rebut Ethiopia's submission. The Commission's decision which was allegedly based on state practice also ended up splitting a single village and even a single homestead between the two countries. Its decisions in some parts of the central sector are equally illegal, unjust and irresponsible.
Badme, having been the first Ethiopian village to be occupied by Eritrea at the start of the Eritrean aggression, is the casus belli for the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Obviously, it does not require great wisdom to see how symbolically important the village is for the people of Ethiopia who have paid so much in blood to reverse the Eritrean Aggression and liberate Ethiopian lands, including Badme. It is unimaginable for the Ethiopian people to accept such a blatant miscarriage of justice. The decision is thus a recipe for continued instability, and even recurring wars.
The Boundary Commission admits that there are indeed anomalies in its decision but states that it is unable to correct them unless the parties give it an additional mandate. The Commission cannot be unaware of Eritrea's total rejection of dialogue on demarcation. Nothing worthwhile can therefore be expected from the Commission to salvage the peace process. Indeed, the Commission seems to be determined to continue its disastrous stance whatever the consequence to the peace of the region.
Under these circumstances, I believe only the Security Council can salvage the peace process. It is to be noted that the Boundary Commission has itself acknowledged the responsibility of the United Nations, in accordance with the Algiers Agreement, to assist the two parties overcome challenges they might face in the process of delimitation and demarcation. As the Commission's decisions could inevitably lead the two countries into another round of fratricidal war, the Security Council has an obligation, arising out of the UN Charter, to avert such a threat to regional peace and stability.
It is therefore in this spirit and with the conviction that it will be possible to break the present deadlock, that Ethiopia is making the following proposals. Ethiopia hopes that the Security Council, the witnesses and guarantors of the Algiers Agreement and the Secretary General, will help the two parties achieve the objective and purpose of the Algiers Agreement.
1. Ethiopia's ultimate concern is achievement of durable peace and stability. Accordingly, as a sign of its full commitment to durable peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ethiopia, while reaffirming its commitment under the Algiers Agreement, stands ready to enter into a formal commitment to reject the use of force as a means of resolving disputes and calls upon Eritrea to do the same.
2. Ethiopia supports the suggestion made by the Secretary General of the UN contained in his 23 June and 4 September 2003 reports to the Security Council, as well as what is referred to in operative paragraph 6 of Security Council resolution 1507 (2003) with respect to assistance by the international community to help the two parties meet their joint obligations for durable peace between them.
3. In this regard, I believe it is crucial that the Security Council set up an alternative mechanism to demarcate the contested parts of the boundary in a just and legal manner so as to ensure lasting peace in the region. The alternative mechanism could be composed of the guarantors and witnesses of the Algiers Agreement and representatives of the two parties. Ethiopia is ready to address the problem through such a mechanism.
4. The uncontested parts of the Boundary, specifically the whole eastern Sector of the Boundary and that part of the Central Sector where the river Mareb constitutes the boundary, can be demarcated without waiting for the setting up of the alternative mechanism. The alternative mechanism's mandate can be limited to the contested parts of the boundary.
5. In the meantime, Ethiopia will recognize the current status quo, which is the Southern boundary of the Temporary Security Zone, as the boundary between the two countries. Pending completion of the demarcation process, the mutual commitment by both parties to resolving their boundary problems peacefully will make it possible, if the international community so wishes for financial reasons, to expedite the departure of UNMEE.
6. Ethiopia is willing to consider any ideas that could lead to a just and legal process of demarcation of the boundary and can therefore ensure lasting peace in the region.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
PRIME MINISTER OF THE FEDERAL
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA
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