Event: AAGIAC 2006
Student: Ahmad Al-JouanLinks to other sites on the Web: Back to the 2005-2006 Team page
Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia on the 24th of May 1993 following a successful referendum on independence for this Autonomous Region of Ethiopia that took place on 23-25 April 1993, a National Assembly, composed entirely of the People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), was established as a transitional legislature; a Constitutional Commission was also established to draft a constitution; Isaias Afworki was elected president by the transitional legislature; the constitution, ratified in May 1997, did not enter into effect, pending parliamentary and presidential elections; parliamentary elections had been scheduled in December 2001, but were postponed indefinitely.
Currently the sole legal party is the People's Front for Democracy and Justice although a National Assembly committee has drafted a law about but the National Assembly has not yet debated it. The current head of state is President Isaias Afworki who is also the head of the State Council and National Assembly. The cabinet is represented by the State Council which is the collective executive authority. The members of the State Council are appointed by the president. The unicameral National Assembly is composed of 150 members who are elected to terms which were not yet established. Although 75 of the members were only elected the countryís constitution specifies that after the transitional phase all members have to be elected. The judicial branch is represented by the High Court, regional, sub regional, and village courts. The judicial branch also has military and special courts. Presidential and parliamentary elections were Scheduled to be held on December 2001 but were postponed indefinitely. The government of Eritrea seems to want to keep the status quo going thus no new parliamentary or presidential elections have been called and any political dissent is dealt with very harshly by the authorities.
The government has used the conflict with Ethiopia to further its political goals, and state that it is cracking down on dissent because of what is happening with Ethiopia, but truly the government of Eritrea has moved to a one party political system centered on the revolutionary group that won the countryís independence.
Eritrea is located in the Horn of Africa and is bordered on the northeast and east by the Red Sea, on the west and northwest by Sudan, on the south by Ethiopia, and on the southeast by Djibouti. The country has a high central plateau that varies from 1,800 to 3,000 meters above sea level. A coastal plain, western lowlands, and some 300 islands comprise the remainder of Eritrea's landmass. Eritrea has no year-round rivers although the rivers help to provide a source an abundant source of water. Eritrea is in a strategic position on the horn of Africa overlooking the Red Sea which an important thoroughfare for international trade. Eritrea is also a small country bordering two of Africaís giants Sudan and Ethiopia.
Eritrea posses many valuable natural resources that include gold, copper, iron ore, potash, oil. It has mining of precious metals in marketable quantities and some oil and natural gas. The land is excellent for agriculture. In a good year, Eritrea can produce a great deal of its agricultural needs although only part of the available agricultural lands are used, and the rest of its agricultural needs are imported. Eritrea has access to the sea although itís benefit from it is very minuscule.
The population of Eritrea is mainly black and is comprised of nine ethnic groups most of which speak Semitic or Cushitic languages. The Tigrinya and Tigre make up four-fifths of the population and speak different, but related Semitic languages. In general, most of the Christians live in the highlands, while Muslims and adherents of traditional beliefs live in lowland regions.
The Cultural History is very plain. Eritrea has very traditional and ancient traditions and ways of life. Eritrea has a severe social challenge in creating a capable workforce. The main problem comes from the 80% illiteracy rate and extremely low levels of education. Tigrinya and Arabic are the most frequently used languages for commercial and official transactions, but English is widely spoken and is the language used for secondary and university education. Muslims and Christians do get along as the ruling political party is made up of both Muslims and Christians, and what has united these distinct ethnic groups is the conflict with Ethiopia. The Ethnic groups include both Muslims and Christians.
Traditionally Eritreans have been fairly distinct from Ethiopians and Eritrea when first conquered by Ottomans in the 1500ís in this individuality has made Eritreans fairly different than Ethiopians. Even though they may be look the same and speak fairly similar languages. It is like the difference between the Arabs each Arab culture will not submit to another culture and argues that it has its own special identity as the case with Iraq goes. The center of distinction is that the main ethnic groups in Eritrea are not found across the border in Ethiopia. They have developed there own culture for hundreds of years because they were ruled by different rulers since its inception it was a separate culture that was influenced by the many countries that ruled it, but Ethiopia was a separate culture which developed on its own with separate ethnic groups than the Eritrea even though the major ethnic groups in Eritrea have relatives across the border in Ethiopia they form only a small part of the population there and donít comprise. The Tigrinya ethnic group that comprises half the population of Eritrea is not found in Ethiopia.
Eritrea spent heavily from 1993 to 1997, about half the its yearly budget on defense. It purchased weapons from Russia, China, Israel, North Korea, Romania, and Ukraine. Last year Eritrea allocated more than 25% of its annual budget to the military. These high military expenditures are due to the ongoing hostilities with Ethiopia even though they have signed a peace agreement The Eritrean military is divided into an Army, Navy, and Air Force. There are no exact figures of the size of the Eritrean Armed Forces but the figure is believed to run to the tens of thousands or even the hundreds of thousands. The Eritrean Army is one of Africaís best armed and most organized armies.
Views on World Problems:
Eritrea is a member of the African Union (AU) and the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It has had close relations with the United States, Italy, and several other European nations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands, which have become important aid donors.
Relations with these countries became strained as a result of the 2001 government crackdown against political dissidents and others, the closure of the independent press, and by the expulsion of the Italian Ambassador to Eritrea. Efforts have been made to repair relations with donor countries. Eritrea's relations with its neighbors other than Djibouti also are somewhat strained. Although a territorial dispute with Yemen over the Haynish Islands was settled by international arbitration, tensions over traditional fishing rights with Yemen resurfaced in 2002.
Relations with Sudan also were colored by occasional incidents involving the extremist group, Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ)--which the Eritrean Government believes is supported by the National Islamic Front government in Khartoum--and by continued Eritrean support for the Sudanese opposition coalition, the National Democratic Alliance. Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to abide by 2002 Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission's (EEBC) delimitation decision, but despite international intervention, mutual animosities, accusations and armed posturing prevail, preventing demarcation; Ethiopia refuses to withdraw to the delimited boundary until technical errors made by the EEBC that ignored "human geography" are addressed, including the award of Badme, the focus of the 1998-2000 war; Eritrea insists that the EEBC decision be implemented immediately without modifications; since 2000, the UN Peacekeeping Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) monitors the 25km-wide Temporary Security Zone in Eritrea until the demarcation. In reality Eritrea has very little friends that it can depend on, and the current regimeís relationship with the outside world is very fun because it is growing more isolationist as proven above by the expelling of the Italian ambassador, and that is proven by how little in foreign aid it receives while the government of Ethiopia receives $800 million in direct foreign aid to the government that is double the Eritrean annual budget.
The Eritrean economy is largely based on agriculture, which employs 80% of the population but currently may contribute as little as 12% to GDP. Agricultural export include cotton, fruit and vegetables, hides, and meat, but farmers are largely dependent on rain-fed agriculture, and growth in this and other sectors is hampered by lack of a dependable water supply. Worker remittances and other private transfers from abroad currently contribute about 32% of GDP. The foreign workers of Eritrea work all over the world in Europe, Australia, the United States, and other numerous countries.
The Government of Eritrea states that it is committed to a market economy and privatization, and it has made development and economic recovery its priorities. Nevertheless, the government and the ruling PFDJ party play persistent roles in the economy. The government has imposed restrict regulatory requirements that discourage foreign and domestic investors. Eritrea is becoming more and more the classic African command state where the government and the ruling party control most of the resources in the country the example of Zimbabwe comes to mind. The economy was devastated by war and the misguided policies of the government, which disrupted agriculture and industry. Much of the transportation and communication infrastructure is outmoded and deteriorating, although a large volume of intercity road-building activity is currently underway. As a result, the government has sought international assistance for various development projects and has mobilized young Eritreans serving in the National Service to repair crumbling roads and dams. According to the IMF, post-border war recovery has been impaired by four consecutive years of recurrent drought that have reduced the already low domestic food production capacity. There are now some encouraging signs that the drought may be ending.
Eritrea currently suffers from large structural fiscal deficits caused by high levels of spending on defense and on emergency reconstruction and humanitarian programs, which have resulted in the stock of debt rising to unsustainable levels. The currency of Eritrea is the nakfa. Exports have collapsed, mainly owing to the border conflict with Ethiopia and border tensions with Sudan. However, large and persistent transfers from Eritreans living abroad have cushioned the impact. In Massawa, the port has been rehabilitated and is being developed. In addition, the government has begun to export fish and sea cucumbers from the Red Sea to markets in Europe and Asia. A newly constructed airport in Massawa capable of handling jets could facilitate the export of high-value perishable seafood.
Before the Italian colonization in 1885, Eritrea had been ruled by various local or international powers that successively dominated the Red Sea region. In 1896, the Italians used Eritrea as a springboard for their disastrous attempt to conquer Ethiopia. Eritrea was placed under British military administration after the Italian surrender in World War II. In 1952, a UN resolution federating Eritrea with Ethiopia went into effect. The resolution ignored Eritrean pleas for independence but guaranteed Eritreans some democratic rights and a measure of autonomy. Almost immediately after the federation went into effect, however, these rights began to be reduced or violated. In 1962, Emperor Haile Sellassie unilaterally dissolved the Eritrean parliament and annexed the country, sparking the Eritrean fight for independence from Ethiopia that continued after Haile Sellassie was ousted in a coup in 1974.
The new Ethiopian Government, called the Derg, that was a Marxist military junta led by strongman Mengistu Haile Miriam. During the 1960s, the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) led the Eritrean independence struggle. In 1970, some members of the group broke away to form the Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF). By the late 1970s, the EPLF had become the dominant armed Eritrean group fighting against the Ethiopian Government, with Isaias Afwerki as its leader. The EPLF used material captured from the Ethiopian Army to fight against the government. In the late 1970ís the EPLF was about to oust the Ethiopian Army out of Eritrea but a massive airlift of Soviet arms reversed the prospect of the EPLF. Between 1978 and 1986, the Derg launched eight major offensives against the independence movement--all of which failed. In 1988, the EPLF captured the headquarters of the Ethiopian Army in northeastern Eritrea, Leading to major defeats by EPFL against the Ethiopian Army the situation was excerbated due to the withdrawal of Soviet aid to Ethiopia. Other rebel groups made headway in other parts of Ethiopia. The United States played a facilitative role in the peace talks in Washington during the months leading up to the May 1991 fall of the Mengistu regime. In mid-May, Mengistu resigned as head of the Ethiopian Government and went into exile in Zimbabwe, leaving a caretaker government in Addis Ababa.
Later that month, the United States chaired talks in London to formalize the end of the war. The four major combatant groups, including the EPLF, attended these talks. Having defeated the Ethiopian forces in Eritrea, EPLF troops took control of their homeland. In May 1991, the EPLF established the Provisional Government of Eritrea (PGE) to administer Eritrean affairs until a referendum could be held on independence and a permanent government established. EPLF leader Isaias became the head of the PGE, and the EPLF Central Committee served as its legislative body. A conference that was held in Addiss Ababa to establish a transitional government in Ethiopia was attended by The EPLF as an observer and held talks with the new transitional government regarding Eritrea's relationship to Ethiopia. The outcome of those talks was an agreement in which the Ethiopians recognized the right of the Eritreans to hold a referendum on independence. The EPLF (and later its successor, the PFDJ) expressed its commitment to establishing a democratic form of government and a free-market economy in Eritrea.
Eritrea's Government faced formidable challenges following independence. With no constitution, no judicial system, and an education system in shambles, the Eritrean Government was required to build institutions of government from scratch. In mid-1998 clashes broke out between Eritrea and former ally Ethiopia along the countriesí border, each country accusing the other of seizing territory. Hundreds of thousands of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops were sent to the border, which had not been precisely defined when Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in 1993. By early 1999 the dispute had become a bitter war. Tens of thousands of soldiers were killed in the fighting before the countries declared a cease-fire in June 2000. In December Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace agreement that formally ended the war and established a commission to demarcate their border. In September 2001, after several months in which a number of prominent PFDJ party members had gone public with a series of grievances against the government and in which they called for implementation of the constitution and the holding of elections, the government instituted a crackdown. Eleven prominent dissidents, members of what had come to be known as the Group of 15, were arrested and held without charge in an unknown location. At the same time, the government shut down the independent press and arrested its reporters and editors, holding them incommunicado and without charge. In subsequent weeks, the government arrested other individuals, including two Eritrean employees of the US. Embassy. All of these individuals remain held without charge and none are allowed visitors.
The issue of the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia:
The state of Eritrea is growing increasingly alarmed at the stalemate to broker a final demarcation of the Eritrean border. We see it as vital for world security that the world as whole accept this definition for this issue to be " the disagreement about a final solution for the demarcation of the Ethiopian-Eritrean border." The situation has reached a stalemate since Ethiopia has refused to implement that decisions of the boundary commission concerning the final demarcation of the Ethiopian-Eritrean border. Eritrea is guided by official UN Security Council resolutions 1297, 1298, 1312, 1320, 1369, 1430,1434, 1507, 1586, 1622, 1640.
The issuance of this resolution concerning the demarcation of the Eritrean-Ethiopian border by the Security Council as well as its stressing the necessity of implementing it, comes as one step forwards though it came late. However the focal issue and question that projects itself in this respect: on whom would these sanctions be imposed and for what reason? On focusing on the fundamental issue i.e. Article 15, paragraph 5 of the Algiers Peace Agreement which the UN Secretary General signed in the light of the world body's responsibility as guarantor of the Agreement, the Security Council instead of applying Chapter 7 of the UN Charter on the party which refuses and rejects the implementation of the Boundary Commission's decision and imposing sanctions against it, the Council started escaping from its responsibility and mandate. It opted for entering into secondary issues, away from the crucial issue, thus lengthening the duration of conflict.
Today while entering into this political milieu, we see that the ideal solution is that the Council should undertake and carry out its tasks and mandate and bear its responsibility and duty in preserving and emphasizing peace and stability and not to enter into endless labyrinth that will never end. In addition the Council should take punitive measures including application of sanctions against the party, which is violating the rule of law and disrupting regional peace and stability considering that the moral and legal responsibilities of the UN are to preserve and uphold the rule of law and safeguard peace and stability. What we exactly want is land and power that we claim to be part of our territory, and we got most of the land we wanted including the contested Badme region which was the region that first started the 1998-2000 war. We accepted the 2002 boundary commission agreement because we got what we wanted and asked the United Nations to implement immediately as stated by our ministry of information website http://www.shabait.com/staging/index.html. The government of Eritrea has used the war as a reason to consolidate power and crack down on dissent as does the government of Ethiopia. The government of Eritrea uses the war to address any situation that arises in the state as a threat to national security.
Defining the issue as the disagreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea on their Common border as stated by Oxford dictionary.
Taking Note that the United Nations bears the responsibility of guarantor of the Algiers peace agreement signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea as stated in the United Nations signature of the peace agreement and by that its official declaration in Article 15, paragraph 5 of the Algiers peace agreement,
Keeping in Mindhas still refused to fulfill the recommendations of the boundary committee which has fully demarcated the common border between Ethiopia and Eritrea,
Expressing its appreciation to the government of Eritrea for its full cooperation with the United Nations and the boundary committee,
Taking into account that the United Nations Security Council has passed eleven resolutions on the issue of the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia,
Alarmed by Ethiopiaís flagrant disregard for United Nations resolutions and international law as it did not respect United Nations resolutions as stated by resolution No. 1640/2005 that condemned Ethiopiaís disregard for the boundary commissionís decisions and demanded it to fulfill its obligations as soon as it can,
Noting with regret that the United Nations is not fulfilling its role as guarantor of world peace and security by punishing the party that is disobeying United Nations resolutions and thus not fulfilling its allotted role as state in Article 15 paragraph 5 0f the Algiers peace Agreement,
Reaffirming the issuance of Resolution No. 1640/2005 concerning the demarcation of the Eritrean-Ethiopian border by the Security Council as well as stressing the necessity of implementing it, comes as one step forward although it comes late,
Noting with Deep concern the issuance of United Nations Security Council resolutions that condemn and deplore Eritrea for secondary issues while acquitting Ethiopia of all responsibility such as resolution 1640 which only calls for Ethiopia to agree to the boundary commissions agreement while not alluding to any sanctions and in the case of a secondary issue with Eritrea concerning issues with UNMEE the United Nations threatens sanctions;
Fully Believing in the role of the United Nations as the upholder of International law and security,
Noting with Deep Concern the tens of thousands of refugees who fled the Ethiopian onslaught on Eritrean territory and are still suffering to this day as stated by The British Broadcasting Agency and Amnesty International,
1. Resolves the Creation of a new United Nations Committee headed by the United Nations Secretary General and consisting of members representing all United Nations Security Council members, A representative from the African Union, and representatives from both Ethiopia and Eritrea, this committee shall have the Following tasks and will include the following tasks: A. Will pursue all the recommendations of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission that have not been implemented due to Ethiopian objections, B. Will use the UNMEE to monitor that both sides follow the decisions of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary commission, C. Will see to that both sides adhere to the Boundary agreement as state in the Algiers peace agreement as the United Nations is the Guarantor of that agreement, D. Will, In case of noncompliance of any of the two parties the committee shall according to article 41 of the United Nations charter, within a 40 day period after the passing of this resolution impose sanctions against the country not complying with this resolution, E. Shall support any efforts to rightfully seize its rights as guaranteed by the United Nations Charter F. Calls on the committee to create a sub-committee that will estimate the cost of damages and help in providing aid to the side most affected by the war and currently not receiving aid. G. Will consider all other United Nations resolutions concerning this issue to be executed when this resolution is passed and thus this will be the only effective resolution concerning this issue.
Ladies and Gentleman,
Since the inception of Eritrea as a separate entity it has not been part of Ethiopia. It has been ruled by the Muslims, Ottomans, Italians, and the British. Then our evil neighbor to the south annexed our beloved state as the region of their country. We think that the reason for the annexation is not cultural but strategic and political. Ethiopia wants access to the sea and it got through the capture of Ethiopia. Our past is fairly distinct from that of Ethiopia and that is the reason why since day one of the Ethiopian invasion of our fair state until our independence in 1993 through a democratic referendum that returned what is rightfully ours.
Ladies and Gentlemen we ask you today to return what is rightfully ours. Our lands that have been taken by our evil neighbor to the South. Which has broken international law and disregarded the resolution of this fair council! Let this day be a great day where international law is king and the United Nations is truly just.
In the recent MUN conference held at the American Academy for Girls I was the representative of the state of Eritrea to the United Nations Security Council. I was called to represent our view on the border conflict with Ethiopia which has been become a prolonged problem that has not been solved for many years. In the United Nations Security Council we obtained everything we wanted and even the great powers clamored to get our approval. I believe that our role in the conference was positive where we, for our size and problems, helped in bringing much needed aid and help to our great state.