Statement by H.E Mr. Araya Desta…
Council Committee (751 / 1907 )New York, April 18, 2012
Mr. Chairman,Let me take this opportunity to express my delegation’s appreciation to you as Chairman of the Security council Committee and, through you, to the members of the Committee and the Secretariat for arranging this informal consultation.
This is the fourth time that my delegation is holding this type of informal consultations with the Committe. These were under the Chairmanship last July. So I see my interaction with the Committee today as a continuation of that cooperation. My intervention will be brief and limited to highlighting the positions and sentiments of my Government and the people of my country against the backdrop of the punitive measures that have been imposed on them.
My Government has clarified through its previous communications to the Committee and the Security Council, the political dimensions as well as the legal and procedural flaws of the sanctions imposed on my country. In very brief terms, the sanction emanates from the desire of hostile forces to weaken Eritrea – the arms embargo is designed to create an imbalance in the region while the economic sanctions aims to strangle investment and the promising economic growth that is in the offing in the country. To camouflage and rationalize these measures, Eritrea has been depicted as “a pariah and rogue state that is busy squandering its resources and capabilities in destabilizing its neighbours”. Nothing can be further from the truth. Eritrea’s contribution to regional peace is of historical record.
Eritrea is not only a small and young nation which cannot possibly contemplate such elusive agendas, but it has gone through the horrors of war ot attain its freedom and national dignity. The war of national liberation had entailed the sacrifice of 60,000 freedom fighters and a much higher number of civilian casualties in a small polulation that was less than 3 million then. The border war with Ethiopia has similarly inculcated the sacrifice of 20,000 lives. The number of those who were maimed by these tortuous wars run into thousands more.
Inevitably, the Government’s efforts in the past twenty years have been geared towards healing those deep scars and charting the path of sustainable development for a society forced to lose half a century of opportunities. The participation and contribution of all Eritreans in facing the challenges of nation-building was at the core of the government strategy. In this context, the 2% Development and Rehabilitation tax, wrongly dubbed as Diaspora tax and now one of the targets of the punitive resolutions imposed against Eritrea, was enacted in 1994 by the National Assembly to provide some cushion to the hefty annual budgetary bills that the Government continues to shoulder to date to support the war disabled and the families of martyrs.
But, it was not only the heavy baggage of imposed costly wars that militated against Eritrea’s espousal and pursuit of “a reckless policy of regional destabilization” as its adversaries falsely propagate. Indeed, as outlined in our previous communications, Eritrea has no territorial or expansionist ambitions, or a zealous desire to export some ideology or model of governance on its neighbours as it has historically been the case with some regional players. It strictly abides by the sanctity of colonial boundaries and the peaceful means and instruments of resolving all boundary and other inter-State disputes as enshrined in Article 33 of the UN Charter. Furthermore, Eritrea subscribes to regional economic cooperation for a multitude of reasons: the arithmetic of demography; the synergies that accrue from robust regional economic blocs for attracting foreign direct investment; as well as the cultural and historical affinities and cross-border trade ties that exist between the peoples of the Horn of Africa region and that transcend the limits set by geograpic and political boundaries.
These cogent considerations have shaped Eritrea’s regional policy of promoting a safe and cooperative neighborhood that was pronounced from the early days of its formal independence and that continues to be faithfully adhered to date. This policy precept is anchored on and pursued through a three-pronged strategy of:
i) the promotion of regional security architecture that can play a pivotal role in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts;
ii) strict adherence to international laws and conventions of conflict settlement and instruments; and,
iii) cultivation of robust bilateral ties with individual neighbouring countries.
Eritrea has dutifully cooperated with the Monitoring Group despite its strong opinions on the UN resolutions in question. The Monitoring Group visited Eritrea twice and it also met with senior Eritrean officials in Europe for a third meeting before the last report was compiled. But as it has been manifestly demonstrated in its various reports, and particularly in its Report of 18 July 2011, the Monitoring Group has glaringly failed to observe minimum standards of objectivity and political neutrality and to discharge its duties with the professionalism and political independence that its mandate requires. I shall not waste your time to delve into extensive description of this state of affairs. We believe that we have sufficiently exposed the inexcusable follies and failures of the Monitoring Group in our detailed Response of 17 October 2011 as well as in subsequent replies to its monthly reports, although we have been facing inexplicable difficulties in obtaining access to them through formal channels. But to refresh your memories, let me highlight the following:
1. In conducting its task, the Monitoring Group has not been limited to ascertaining, in an objectives and rigorous manner, the validity of the various accusations leveled against Eritrea and/or monitoring its compliance with the UNSC Resolutions 1907 and 2023. In numerous instances that we have amply illustrated in our Response of 17 October last year, the Monitoring Group has drifted from its mandate to wage a political crusade against the Government of Eritrea and to delegitimize and criminalize senior Government and PFDJ officials. We believe that this conduct is neither excusable nor acceptable.
2. The manner in which the Monitoring Group has been collecting its information has remained another serious issue of concern to Eritrea. As we pointed out in our Reply of 17 October 2011, the vitriol that the Monitoring Group routinely produces against Eritrea emanates, by its own admissions, from four principal sources:
i) Foreign law enforcement agencies; this begs the question on who these agensies are?Why are their testimonies accepted without checking the ulterior agendas that they may harbor?Do we have assurances that testimonies from intelligence agencies that have hostile agendas against Eritrea excluded or meticulously corroborated with accounts of other neutral and credible bodies?
ii) The second category of sources of the Monitoring Group is “former Eritrean military or diplomatic officials”, Again, what are the assurances that testimonies of elements who may be fugitive from the law or who may be fugitives from the law or who may be involved in subversive activities against the country are credible and not politically motivated fabrications?
iii) The third sources are “active Eritrean Government contacts”. This provokes other deeper questions. Is it lawful for the Monitoring Group to foster clandestine contacts with Eritrean officials? What are the financial or other inducements? And can testimonies of this type be considered valid?
iv) The fourth category of sources constitutes “Eritrean individuals directly involved in people smuggling operations”. This is too preposterous to merit explanation. But that is how the Monitoring asserted in its Report that “a senior Eritrean Army General and the current Minister of Transport ot the Sudan are involved in human trafficking”.
3. In numerous instances, the Monitoring Group has shown a proclivity for wrongly making sweeping and damning assertions. But it shies from acknowledging its mistakes when it latter finds out that this was not the case in the first place. As it may be recalled, the MG had falsely asserted that Eritrea deployed 2000 troops in 2006 when its mandate was then restricted to Somalia. In spite of Eritrea’s repeated requests to the Monitoring Group to acknowledge the errors it had made, the MG refuses to set the record straight and take appropriate remedial action. The pattern continues without meaningful correction to-date.
The instances described above are not exhaustive as I have deliberately refrained from going into greater details to save your precious time. But I believe they sufficiently illustrate the political bias and lack of proffesionalism that has characterized the work of the Monitoring Group. Let me also emphasize that several member countries in this Committee harbor similar misgivings and some have publicly expressed their concerns on previous occasions. In the event, my Government believes that the composition of the Monitoring Group must be seriously examined to ensure fairness and justice. Let me also recall that my Government has sent four appeals, spelling out its reasons in greater detail, to the UN Security Council and to the Secretary General of the UN on this account since September last year.
Let me now revert to the cooperation of Eritrea with the Sanctions Committee. As you are aware, we have extended and invitation to the Committee for an exchange of views within the constructs of Resolutions 1907 and 2023. In a sub-region that is volatile and fragile, it is critical to examine whether the sanctions in place are abating conflicts or fuelling them more. We note with grave concern that a potentially dangerous situation is on the offing. We maintain that the imbalance fuelled by an asymmetric arms embargo as well as lopsided punitive measures against Eritrea are fraught with grave consequences to regional peace and security. These have already sent wrong signals and emboldened Ethiopia and its backers to contemplate and perpetrate provocative acts of aggression last month. Let me further recall that President Issaias has sent a letter to the Security Council on 27 March last month underlining Eritrea’s concerns on these developments and urging for the formation of an independent, transparent and accountable body to examine them. Eritrea believes that there is a need for frank and exhaustive discussion on the ramifications of Resolutions 1907 and 2023.
Both resolutions “reaffirm the respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea respectively”. Eritrea believes that the Committee is also duty bound to assess whether all members are complying with provisions of both resolutions, including paragraph 16 of Resolution 1907 which demands all countries to desist from supporting armed groups. Eritrea strongly believes that all violations must be investigated and reported; and all should be treated equally.
My delegation therefore looks to the visit of the Committee to Eritrea. It must be recalled that the Committee visited Eritrea in April 2012, under the Chairmanship of Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico along with delegations from Turkey and the United States. As Resolution 2023 was adopted in the subsequent period, we believe that it would be useful to dispatch another mission to enhance better understanding and cooperation between the two sides.
While a visit by the Committee to my country is welcom, I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the difficulties higher officials of my government face getting visa to the USA. This is a serious matter and as a member state, Eritrea’s unimpeded access to the United Nations should be respected. Furthermore, as a country of concern, Eritrea requests access to all the reports of the Monitoring Group in a timely manner.
As a matter of fortuitous coincidence rather than design, this informal consultation happens to occur in the very month of April when the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission delivered its border delimitation Award just over ten years ago to the date. the arbitral ruling was made on the basis of the Algiers Peace Agreement on whose formulation the UN Security Council played a pivotal role. The Peace Agreement contains explicit provisions of Security Council guarantees for upholding its integrity and strict enforcement. Yet, ten years after the ruling, Ethiopia continues to violate Eritrea’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Event within the context of resolutions 1907 and 2023 which affirm the territorial integrity of Eritrea, my delegation believes that the Committee has the responsibility to adress this serious violation.
Thank you for your attention.