November 24, 2005

Eritrea rejects UN resolution

By Ed Harris

ASMARA (Reuters) - Eritrea on Thursday dismissed as a
glaring example of big power bias a U.N. Security Council
resolution threatening sanctions against it and Ethiopia if
both countries failed to step back from the brink of war.

The Red Sea State, which has long said the West favors
Ethiopia over Eritrea in its dealings in the region, said the
council had risked worsening tensions by failing to punish
Ethiopia for its refusal to honor the treaty that ended their
1998-2000 war.

"The Security Council has adopted another deplorable
resolution," Eritrea said in a statement.

"This lopsided resolution underscores one glaring fact: It
is not international law and the Charter of the United Nations
that govern the conduct of the Security Council but sheer power
politics and the narrow interests of major powers."

"It will not promote the maintenance of regional peace and
security, which is the central mandate of the Security Council,
but sow the seeds of further tension and conflict in the

The resolution adopted by the council on Wednesday called
on Eritrea to end its restrictions on U.N. helicopter flights
and other peacekeeping operations, and told both sides to draw
down to last December's levels their military forces facing
each other across a U.N.-enforced buffer zone.

It also expressed "grave concern" that Ethiopia had failed
to fully accept the binding ruling of an international
commission on the Horn of Africa neighbors' shared border.

On Thursday the United Nations said Ethiopian troops had
occupied the buffer zone for five days.


But rather than threaten punishment if Ethiopia failed to
let the border be fully marked out on the ground, it expressed
only its "determination to monitor closely the actions of both
parties in relation to the demarcation of the border and to
keep this matter under consideration."

Nearly 3,300 U.N. peacekeepers monitor the buffer zone as
part of the 2000 peace accord ending Ethiopia and Eritrea's
two-year border war that killed more than 70,000 people.

Both sides moved soldiers and arms toward the border after
Eritrea on October 5 banned helicopter flights over its
territory and restricted U.N. ground movements.

The move crippled peacekeepers' ability to monitor troop
movements, carry out medical evacuations and deliver supplies
to their bases.

Diplomats said Eritrea acted out of frustration over
Ethiopia's refusal to implement the boundary commission ruling,
and the international community's failure to put pressure on
Ethiopia to do so.

Under a 2000 peace deal signed in Algeria, both sides
agreed to accept the commission decision about the true
location of the frontier as final and binding. But when the
commission made its ruling, determining the flashpoint town of
Badme was in Eritrea, Ethiopia rejected the decision.

Eritrea has asked Western donors to reduce the aid to
Ethiopia to push it to honor the ruling. None have done so.

Ethiopia, a nation of 72 million seen by major Western
powers as a linchpin of stability in a turbulent region,
receives more than $1 billion a year in foreign aid.

The Eritrean statement added: "In a perverted logic, the
Security Council will not invoke, as it should, Chapter Seven
if and as Ethiopia continues to violate the Algiers peace
agreement and the U.N. Charter to forcibly occupy sovereign
territories of a U.N. member state."

Under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter, the Security
Council has broad power to decide what measures to take in
situations involving threats to international security,
including, at a maximum, the use of armed force.