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IS 495

A Permanent Solution to the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Dispute

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A Permanent Solution to the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Dispute
In 1935 Italy claimed Ethiopia, however this colonization in Ethiopia ended when World
War II began and Italy incurred the fall of Benito Mussolini in 1947.
Eritrea, a colony that was
created by Italy in 1889 had historical ties to Ethiopia.
At the time, Eritrea was under the control
of Great Britain. Due to the close cultural, linguistic and religious ties between both Eritrea and
Ethiopia and not to mention, Ethiopias historical claim over Eritrea, the United Nations annexed
Eritrea to Ethiopia once they were both freed from Italian occupation in 1952.
While Ethiopia
was busy with its civil war with the Derg (Appendices A) Eritrean Separatists began the Eritrean
independence movement from Ethiopia. The war between Eritrea and Ethiopia lasted from 1961
up until 1991 when Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia.
In1998 the second war
broke out between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This second war lasted two years and had claimed over
70,000 casualties.

The border disputes between Eritrea and Ethiopia still hunts the region today (view
appendices B for a working definition of border). Disputes that are unfolding in this day and time
are traceable back to colonial times.
As an outcome of the lack of peace, the East African region
remains unstable due to conflicts in Sudan, Somalia, and the long lasting conflict between Eritrea
and Ethiopia. In December 12, 2000 the Algiers Peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea

Luther, Ernest. Ethiopia Today. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958, Pg21.
Bereket Habte Selassie, Eritrea and the United Nations, (New Jersey: The Red Sea Press, Inc., 1989).
Shaping A People's Destiny: The Story OF Eritrea and the United Nations. : The United Nations Department of
Public Information.
(Habte Selassie , 1989, pg36)
"ICE Case Studies." Case Study. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. <http://www1.american.edu/ted/ice/eritrea.htm>.
Rice, Xan. "Annan warns of another war between Ethiopia and Eritrea." theguardian.com.
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/oct/31/ethiopia(accessed April 22, 2014).
Ernest , Work. Ethiopia, a Pawn in European Diplomacy . New York: The Macmillan Company, 1935, pg 28.
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was signed to end the war that lasted from 1998 to 2000.
Through the Algiers Peace Agreement
both the Boundary Commission (EEBC) and the Claims Commission (EECC) were created
(Appendices E&F). The two commissions were made to decide all claimed borders and also to
repatriate losses. Currently, the negotiations between the two countries are at a stalemate due to
Eritreas heavy militarization of the border and Ethiopias refusal to follow the rulings of the

This situation between the Eritrea and Ethiopia needs a permanent solution. A solution to
the Eritrea and Ethiopia border problem would help both countries develop and grow. It would
also bring stability to the east African regions and help control the situations in Sudan and
Somalia. This long lasting dispute can bring back a cycle of conflicts that could be avoided
through intensive rehabilitation of the two countries relations. Steps such as diplomatic
negotiations, economic trade, and opening borders for migration amongst other approaches,
needs to be taken towards a permanent solution to create long-term peace between Eritrea and
Possible Solutions
Diplomatic Solution
Diplomacy is a word that can be interpreted in many different ways, however, in terms of
a solution to the conflict, it simply means that both countries need to create dialog. According to
Ambassador to Ethiopia H.E. Mr. Tekeda Alemu Before any further steps towards peace can be
taken by both countries, there needs to be a serious discussion in which both nations can talk

"Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission." Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission. http://www.pca-
cpa.org/showpage.asp?pag_id=1150(accessed April 25, 2014).
"Ethiopia and Eritrea: Brothers at war no more." - Opinion.
201312111228604587.html(accessed April 24, 2014).
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about all the pre-existing problems and plan for future steps.
This means that in order for both
countries to move on to other steps in creating a long lasting border peace and integration
between the two stats, discussing the current problems that they are having with each other.
Dialogue between the two countries will improve chances for both countries of building peace
because it will be a platform on which a diplomatic relationship can be built between the two
Although this seems unrealistic for both countries to do alone, with the help of the
United Nations and other mediating countries such as the United States and Qatar, such a goal is
This dialog needs to address current civil society, the mistrust between the two
countries and current points of view on past situations.
Maintaining the Current Border
Maintaining the current Border is an option. Initially, the plan was to divide the borders
between Eritrea and Ethiopia through colonial treaties of 1900, 1902, and 1908.
through this approach the border would remain the way it is today meaning each country would
keep all the territories that it is currently controlling. The disputed area of northern Badme would
belong to Eritrea, the southern part of Badme would belong to Ethiopia. and similar cases in
Tserona, Zalambessa, Bure, Senafe and Adigrat. (see appendices F) All the northern parts of
those territories would belong to Eritrea and the southern parts would belong to Ethiopia. the
problem with that would be how would both countries split towns in half.
Giving Certain Territory to one country or the other

Tekeda Alemu, (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to Ethiopia), interview
by Arone Andu, New York "Sustainable Peace Between Eritrea and Ethiopia," March 31, 2014.
(Alemu, 2014)
"Qatari Diplomacy in the Horn of Africa." The Economist , August 2, 2013.
http://country.eiu.com/article.aspx?articleid=980800682&Country=Eritrea&topic=Politics(accessed April 2, 2014).
"Algiers Peace Agreement." Algiers Peace Agreement.
http://unmee.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=57(accessed April 26, 2014).
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Most of the disputed territories are all within both countries claims. To divide those areas
in half would mean to spilt towns and cities into to sections, which does not seem to be the most
feasible solution. One way that this problem could be solved is through giving each one of the
countries Certain territories. A good example of that would be the region of Badme, most of that
region clearly is within Eritrea, and it was also awarded to Eritrea by the EEBC therefore it
would be more feasible to give it to Eritrea.
On the contrary, the regions of Zalambessa,
Tserona, and Bure can be given to Ethiopia due to their location from the border (see Appendices
Building Trust
Similar to young children trusting themselves to no longer depend on training wheels to
ride a bike, trust must be built between the two countries in order to ride the bicycle on the road
to long lasting peace. Based on the long history of conflict between the two nations, and the
historic manifestations of events in which Eritrea was annexed to Ethiopia, the mistrust between
the two nations is high. This level of mistrust must be brought down in order for both countries
to prosper in peace. The United Nations should follow up on the EEBC ruling on the border of
the two countries in which the EEBC asks Ethiopia to withdraw its troops from Badme.
this task has not been fulfilled, and since the United Nations imposed more sanctions on Eritrea,
it has left the country of Eritrea with a bad taste and brought back some of the hard feelings that
they had in the past when they were annexed to Ethiopia by the United Nations.
Due to the
inconsistency of those mediating countries and organizations the mistrust will not be broken. The
international community can play a role in building trust by removing some of the sanctions that

Negash &Tronvoll, 2000
Negash, tekeste, and Kjetil Tronvoll. Brother at War: Making Sense of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War. Athens: Ohio
University Press, 2000.
Refer to Appendices E for location of Badme.
Qatari Diplomacy in the horn of Africa, 2013
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no longer make sense from Eritrea, and encouraging them to be more open to dialogue with
Furthermore, through the similarities in cultural, religious and historical ties, both
countries can use such characteristics as building blocks to gain each others trust.

Economic Cooperation
Economic cooperation between the two countries plays a vital role in building long
lasting sustainable peace. Through the creation of economic ties between the two players the
chances of them going to war grow thinner.
In the year 2013 there was a growing speculation
of peace talks between the two nations of Eritrea and Ethiopia, which in return improve the GDP
forecast for Eritrea.
Through trade and business integration both countries can build a system
of economic cooperation that would cause the countries to depend on each other. For Eritrea,
allowing Ethiopia use the Red Sea Ports that belong to them would boost their economic
cooperation and improve their individual economies. Studies done by the World Bank and the
United Nations show through Providing Economic opportunities, transferring technology and
effectively managing business and trade, regions can be alleviated from poverty.
constructing linking infrastructures that connect both countries together can boost the economy
because of the exchange of the populations, and enhancement of trade.
Furthermore, Eritrea

Cohen, Hank. "Eritrea: Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold." AllAfrica, December 16, 2013.
http://allafrica.com/stories/201312171250.html(accessed April 4, 2014).
Daniel Yelma Workie, (Minister of Political Affairs ), interview by Arone Andu, New York"Building sustainable
peace," April 5, 2014.
Forrer, John, Timothy Fort, and Raymond Gilpin. "How Business can Foster Peace." United Stats Institute for
Peace. . http://business.gwu.edu/icr/projects/taskforce/report.pdf(accessed April 5, 2014).
"Reasonable Chance of Dialogue Between Eritrea and Ethiopia Will Improve GDP Forecast ." The Economist ,
January 23, 2014. http://www.tesfanews.net/reasonable-chance-of-dialogue-between-eritrea-and-ethiopia-will-
improve-gdp-forecast-the-economist/ (accessed April 6, 2014).
Refer to Appendices graph #1
(Forrer et al, 2014, pg4)
Diamond, D. and N. Spence. "Infrastructure and Regional Development: Theory ." Built Enviornment. no. 4
(1984): 262- 269.
n&fc=off (accessed April 8, 2014).
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and Ethiopia must open their borders up because money that is spent to keep those borders
militarized costs both countries a lot of money. For example, Eritrea, which spends 150 million
dollars, which is 25.7% of its GDP.

Access to Eritrean Ports on the Red Sea
One feasible solution that could create room for growth between both countries is Eritrea
providing Ethiopia access to some of its ports on the red sea. Currently Ethiopia pays Djibouti a
total of $ 722.5 million with the addition of $22.6 million in port tariffs.
According to the world
bank on the other hand, between they year 1991 and 1997 Ethiopia utilized the port of Assab for
free with its own branches of customs and tariffs.
One solution to create peace between the two
countries is by Eritrea offering Ethiopia access to some of its ports in return Ethiopia must vacate
its claimed territories.
Recommended Solution
Creating long lasting peace between the two countries is not an easy task. Ethiopia and
Eritrea are two countries that lost many casualties. Although there are many individual solutions
that can be taken to solve this long lasting border dispute, those approaches combined are more
effective. Individually each solution focuses on a certain area of peace building, yet together
those solutions create a holistic plan. Through diplomacy both countries can create room for
Both the nations of Eritrea and Ethiopia must discuss issues on a broader perspective
meaning that they must start looking ahead into the future. Both countries must think about what

Library of Congress: Federal Research Division, "Country Profile: Eritrea." Last modified September 2005.
Accessed April 6, 2014. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Eritrea.pdf.
"Ethiopia: Djibouti Port Fees Will Fuel Inflation." Daljecom English All news at Portal Daljecom Daljecom RSS.
http://dalje.com/en-economy/ethiopia--djibouti-port-fees-will-fuel-inflation/214140 (accessed April 23, 2014).
"1996 Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements & Exchange Restrictions." Google Books.
http://books.google.comh(accessed April 25, 2014).
(Alemu, 2014).
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it means for them to start building on similarities that they share.
A common culture, religion,
history and languages tie both countries socially which can be used as a great building block.

Once dialog has been established between both countries, the next part of the solution can be
implemented. Building trust is a process that doesnt occur overnight, however due to the close
cultural, historic, linguistic and religious ties between both countries, its a lot more tangible for
both countries to build trust amongst each other. Moreover, the international community also
must help both countries rebuild trust with each other. Through the creation of neutral space for
dialog to commence, also by enforcing all rules and regulations passed by peace keeping actors,
the international communities including intergovernmental organizations such as the United
Nations become more credible and trustworthy. Next, once the trust is established within both of
the Eritrean and Ethiopian actors, the stage becomes set for economic growth and development.

Through trade and business the economy of both the Eritrean and Ethiopian Nations can prosper
and grow. Through economic cooperation, the two countries can create a reliable trade system,
which can start the flow of goods and funds in and out of both countries. Furthermore, if Eritrea
allowed Ethiopia to use some of its Red Sea ports than both countries can economically benefit.

Ethiopia and Eritrea can also benefit from opening up borders for migration between both
countries because that will mean that information and skills would flow in-between both borders.
Finally opening the borders would mean that the need for militarized borders would no longer be
of necessity, which means that both countries can stop spending large amounts of funds on the
expanse of military activities.
Through this plan both Eritrea and Ethiopia can reach border

(Yelma Workie, 2014)
(Work, 1935).
(Forrer et al, 2014, pg4)
(Hank, 2013)
(Country Profile: Eritrea, 2005, pg3)
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peace, and would be able to sustain it for a long period of time while maintaining good
relationship with the international community.
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Appendices A
Derg is the short name of the Coordinating Committee of the Armed Forces, Police, and
Territorial Army that ruled Ethiopia from 1974 to 1987. It took power following the ousting of
Emperor Haile Selassie
Appendices B
Borders can be defined as the line that separates one country, state, province, etc., from
another; frontier line
Appendices C
Eritrean Ethiopia Border Commission
The Permanent Court of Arbitration serves as registry for this Boundary Commission
established pursuant to the Agreement of 12 December 2000 between the Government of the
State of Eritrea and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The
Commission has a mandate "to delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border based on
pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902 and 1908) and applicable international law."
Appendices D
Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission
The Commission was directed to decide through binding arbitration all
claims for loss, damage or injury by one Government against the other, and by
nationals (including both natural and juridical persons) of one party against the
Government of the other party or entities owned or controlled by the other party
that are (a) related to the conflict that was the subject of the Framework
Agreement, the Modalities for its Implementation and the Cessation of Hostilities
Agreement, and (b) result from violations of international humanitarian law,
including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, or other violations of international law.

Appendices E

Appendices F

"Borders." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2014.
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Appendices G

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Additional Work Cited

Ernest , Work. Ethiopia, a Pawn in European Diplomacy . New York: The Macmillan
Company, 1935.

Habte Selassie, Bereket. Eritrea and the United Nations. New Jersey: The Red Sea Press,
Inc., 1989.

Yohannes, Okbazghi. Eritrea, a pawn in World Politics . Gainesville: University of
Florida Press, 1991.

Tekeda Alemu, (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent
Representative to Ethiopia), interview by Arone Andu, New York"Sustainable Peace Between
Eritrea and Ethiopia," March 31, 2014.

Daniel Yelma Workie, (Minister of Political Affairs ), interview by Arone Andu, New
York"Building sustainable peace," April 5, 2014.

"Reasonable Chance of Dialogue Between Eritrea and Ethiopia Will Improve GDP
Forecast ." The Economist , January 23, 2014. http://www.tesfanews.net/reasonable-chance-of-
dialogue-between-eritrea-and-ethiopia-will-improve-gdp-forecast-the-economist/ (accessed April
6, 2014).

Schaefer, Ludwig F. The Ethiopian Crisis: Touchstone of Appeasement?. Boston: D.C.
Heath And Company, 1961.

Iyob, Ruth. The EritreanStruggle for Independence: Domination, Resistance, nationalism
1941-1993. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Kaplan, Robert. Surrender or Starve: Travels In Ethiopia, Sudan, Somalia, and Eritrea.
New York: A Division of Random House, Inc, 1988.

Erlich, Haggai. The Struggle Over Eritrea, 1962-1978: War and Revolution in the Horn
of Africa. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1983.