The peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia has raised hopes that improving human rights will be front and centre on Eritrea’s path forward, according to a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Tuesday.
DAKAR, Senegal, September 19, 2018 -On 9 July, leaders of both countries signed a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, raising expectations that the end of the “no war, no peace” stalemate between them, would positively impact Eritrea’s internal human rights situation.
The thaw in relations between the neighbouring countries, who fought a bloody, unresolved war in the late 1990s, began earnestly in June, when Ethiopia’s newly-elected leader, Abiy Ahmed, made peace overtures to his counterpart.
Eritrean authorities must urgently embrace and implement bold measures to strengthen protection of and respect for human rights, justice and accountability – UN Rapporteur
Yet, repression reportedly continues within Eritrea.
“During the past 17 years, the Government of Eritrea has maintained tight control over the country, stifling any form of public debate and participation,” said Sheila B. Keetharuth, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea.
Eleven government officials who had criticised the President in an open letter, along with 10 independent journalists, were arrested in 2001 – silencing public political discourse an
“I have received reports that the former Minister of Finance,” Ms. Keetharuth continued, “who recently wrote two books on the current state of affairs in the country, including the rule of law, has been arrested in Asmara during the morning of 17 September.”
If confirmed, the arrest, on the eve of the 2001 clampdown anniversary, would question the will for genuine reform, “especially regarding respect for fundamental rights and freedoms,” the expert asserted.
According to Ms. Keetharuth, while comprehensive domestic reforms would be required for a free, fair, democratic society with all human rights entitlements, the Government can take immediate action towards that end in three concrete, urgent areas.
Firstly, the families of prisoners who have disappeared in Eritrean jails should be informed about the fate of their loved ones. Secondly, implementing the 1997 Constitution would provide a natural basis for a national legal framework and a society governed by the rule of law. And thirdly, the Government could inform new military conscripts that they would not have to serve beyond the 18 months stipulated by Eritrean law.
“The achievement of peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia must be duly celebrated,” stated Ms. Keetharuth. “However, Eritrean authorities must urgently embrace and implement bold measures to strengthen protection of and respect for human rights, justice and accountability,” she concluded.
Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The unpaid positions are honorary, and independent from any government or organization.
NEW YORK, USA, September 17, 2018 – There is a powerful wind of hope blowing across the Horn of Africa region, said UN chief António Guterres on Sunday, in Saudi Arabia to witness the signing of a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending decades of simmering conflict.
Saudi Arabia facilitated the agreement, and in a message on Twitter, the Foreign Ministry said that the accord, signed in Jeddah “is a historic milestone for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and will contribute to strengthening security and stability in the region at large”.
“The signature of the peace agreement between the President of Eritrea and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia is indeed a historic event,” said the Secretary-General, speaking at a press conference following the signing in Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city, on the Red Sea coast, with Foreign Minister Adel Aljubeir.
“We have seen a conflict that has lasted for decades, ending, and that has a very important meaning in a world where we see, unfortunately, so many conflicts multiplying, and lasting forever,” added Mr. Guterres.
He expressed his “deep appreciation” for the role played by Saudi Arabia, before paying tribute “on one hand to the courage, the vision, the wisdom of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia – who has had the capacity to overcome enormous resistance from the past and open a new chapter in the history of his country – and also the way the President of Eritrea has promptly responded to his peace initiatives.”
The thaw in relations between the neighbouring countries, who fought a bloody, unresolved war in the late 1990s, began in earnest in June, when Ethiopia’s newly-elected leader, Abiy Ahmed, made peace overtures to his counterpart, which have now come to fruition.
Seizing on the implications for the whole region, Mr. Guterres said that the agreement meant that “there is a wind of hope blowing in the Horn of Africa. It is not only the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea – it is the fact that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow we will have, here in Saudi Arabia, the President of Djibouti and the President of Eritrea – two countries that have also been at odds with each other.”
According to news reports, Eritrea and Djibouti announced on Friday that they would also normalize diplomatic relations with each other following a falling out on the border, in 2008, which left several dead and resulted in prisoners being taken on both sides.
The UN chief also noted the peace agreement between the President and his former Vice President in South Sudan, that was signed on Thursday – in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa – as another indicator of real diplomatic movement across the Horn of Africa and its borders.
“I want to say that this window of hope is enormously important in a world where, unfortunately, hope has been very scarce,” added the Secretary-General.
Today is yet another historical day on the Horn of Africa. Just as the yesterday meeting was big enough. There was no paperwork and just a touch of hope, today, the Eritrean government and the Ethiopian government have signed peaceful declaration. They have declared peace. The war started on the May 6th 1998 is officially over now at the 9th July 2018. That is 20 years of warfare, cease-fires and skirmishes. Hopefully, that both parties can follow the agreement and enrich them, as the brotherhood can now grow together, instead of fighting them.
Today is a great day.
“The governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea have reached the following joint agreement which reflects the desires and aspirations of their peoples:-
1. The state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has come to an end. A new era of peace and friendship has been opened.
2. The two governments will endeavor to forge intimate political, economic, social, cultural and security cooperation that serves and advances the vital interests of their peoples;
3. Transport, trade and communications links between the two countries will resume; diplomatic ties and activities will restart;
4. The decision on the boundary between the two countries will be implemented.
5. Both countries will jointly endeavor to ensure regional peace, development and cooperation.
Both governments express their gratitude to all friends of Eritrea and Ethiopia and call on them to redouble their solidarity and support” (Shabait.com – ‘Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Eritrea and Ethiopia’ 09.07.2018).
Now, the diplomacy and the borders are opened, the countries has over night nearly decided to change their ways. That Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali and President Isaias Afwerki have suddenly changed the structure. 20 years of fighting and bickering are maybe over. Especially if the Algiers Agreement is followed now, that Ethiopia is giving up Badme, That would be a humiliating thing to do for the TPLF. Clearly, the PM are using his powers for good.
The Eritrean government has gotten a lot and also a closer partner, if they both are planning to hold this declaration and honor it.
Let’s hope that this is the real step towards peace and development between the brothers. Not more warfare and more skirmishes, create trust and build on the richness of both nations. Where the can make the Horn Peaceful, nation by nation and conflict by conflict. That Eritrea and Ethiopia are declaring peace, is a great news.
We can hope this will be manifested, that we will see Badme returned to Eritrea and that the militarized becomes commercial customs border and not closed. This might open Eritrea up and make more information leak not only into Ethiopia, but the world as whole. So the reality of the dictatorship comes more into the light. But the last piece, is only something we can hope is reaction and a bonus for the peace between the brothers of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
This is another historical day in our life-time. That is worth celebrating. Cheers! Peace.
Today, is a historical day, in the terms that the Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali visited the Eritrean capital Asmara and had talks with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. The last time an Ethiopian delegation was in Asmara must have been before the 2 year between the parties that lasted from May 6th 1998 ended on the 12th December 2000. There been skirmishes and smaller firing between the nations on the borders. As the state hasn’t been as friendly and even had interests of securing a friendship.
Therefore, that the Eritrean delegation was in Addis Ababa in June 2018, was already a show of a new direction, as well as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Defense Force (EPRDF) was talking about respecting the Algiers Agreement in regards of Eritrea. That has already shown positive directions, as the annexed land and the questionable boarder areas. Would go to their rightful owners and to the ones that has fought bravely for that land.
For now that is just dreams for the Horn of Africa, however, just the pictures of the Ethiopian PM together with the Eritrean President is a good look. Though, this is just the beginning. We should not jump the gun and think this is the end, there will be more twists and turns. As the uncertainty of what the Ethiopian leadership wants, if the Council of Ministers and the Parliament will enact to deliver back Badme and the questionable land back to Eritrea. If both parties will demilitarize this zone, to show as token of peace. Than, we are talking of a real progress between the nations.
That sort of act will not be over just sharing a few cups of tea and enjoy joyful celebration in the streets of Asmara. There needs more dialogue and negotiations, even if the Eritrean has told their stance. However, the Ethiopian also want their bargain. Who knows what that will be and what the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) want, as they would loose the land they started fighting over for over 20 years ago.
These talks today might be positive, the gesture of the PM to travel and meet the President is grand step for normalization of the nations, but until there is respect and works combined towards peace. There is uncertainty, as the military is still on stand-by on both sides.
It is a special occasion today, but I will not celebrate or be to joyful, until real progress is signed and respected by both parties. The PM still have to walk sideways with the TPLF. Who knows how they will react or let this play out. Because I cannot trust the TPLF or their ways, I am also skeptic about Afwerki, as his government is controlled by him and his tyranny. It is not like Eritrea is a peaceful utopia. Than, this would have made sense from the get-go and that the Ethiopian government was a fruitful democracy, which it is not.
There are many hurdles for both parties, but this is a good token of good faith and trying to establish need channels of communications and ways out of a stalemate between the parties. However, the narrow escape isn’t there yet.
But by the ways things are moving, it might be there in the near and not to distant future. Peace.