Badme – a problem between Eritrea and Ethiopia

Upon request, Aletheia Kallos has very kindly gone to the trouble of supplying the following detailed information on the Badme dilemma:

“The Badme situation on another hand is not so easy to oversimplify. As I haven’t yet seen the recent EEBC (Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission) virtual demarcation maps I am still reduced to cribbing from older and coarser stuff like this (here) or questionable stuff like this (here).

But it is also possible to plot the pertinent EEBC turnpoint positions a good deal more accurately than that or than is presently shown at Google Earth, and after running an empirical boundary line segment there in between the pertinent endpoints one can scrutinize the satpic (satellite picture) for indications of exactly where on the Eritrean side of the boundary the main population center of Badme actually falls — and my attachments to the present message endeavor to do just this.

The first attachment pinpoints Badme in relation to the relevant EEBC demarcation turnpoints which are shown there by the red dots spanned by the white boundary line as extracted from this EEBC text here, and the second attachment then zeroes in on the immediate Badme area.

[Click on maps for larger image]


The yellow line in both attachments is the typically crude Google Earth rendering of the boundary.


But the bottom line is downtown Badme which is presently held by Ethiopian forces appears to fall nearly 2 km within Eritrean territory and the imploding tsz [Temporary Security Zone] — and the topological conundrum of this is once the de jure tsz does disappear on the Eritrean side and reemerges de facto behind Ethiopian lines and behind the Ethiopian border Badme will become de facto either an exclave or a salient of Ethiopia into de jure Eritrea and so what will remain to separate the opposing forces in this anomalous yet important if not to say pivotal Badme arena?

But again perhaps I am oversimplifying or overcomplicating …

Reference map if needed here, where the Badme area is near the northernmost point on the boundary”.

Reproduced with many thanks to Aletheia Kallos.

The latest report of the UN Secretary-General to the UN Security Council, S/2008/40, dated 23 January 2008, states that “The military situation in the Temporary Security Zone and adjacent areas remained tense during the period leading up to the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission deadline of 30 November for demarcation of the boundary. Both Eritrea and Ethiopia continued to reinforce their military deployments in the border area … I regret to report that the parties have not complied with the demands of the Security Council contained in its resolution 1767 (2007) of 30 July 2007, as specified in paragraph 43 below. In a letter dated 19 November 2007, addressed to the President of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, the President of Eritrea accepted the boundary demarcation by map coordinates, ‘as an important step torward towards the demarcation on the ground’, and urged the Commission to persist until the erection of pillars, ‘to bring the process to its natural conclusion’. Since then, President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea has repeatedly stated that the border issue has been ‘legally resolved’, and that Eritrea considered the border demarcated. He reaffirmed this position in an interview on the New Year’s Day, which was broadcast on Eritrean television on 5 January.

“Furthermore, in her letter dated 29 November, addressed to the President of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, the Eritrean Legal Adviser to the President acknowledged as ‘both final and valid’ the demarcation coordinates that the Commission has specified, while stressing that Eritrea also considered these coordinates ‘as binding as other Commission’s decisions’. For its part, Ethiopia has maintained its position that demarcation by map coordinates has no legal force or effect. In a letter addressed to the President of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission on 27 November 2007, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia stated that the ‘demarcation coordinates are invalid because they are not the product of a demarcation process recognized by international law’.”

The UNSG told the UN Security Council that the EEBC “reported that the parties have made no progress towards the implementation of the delimitation decision announced by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission on 13 April 2002. Consequently, on 30 November, the Commission sent the maps signed by the Commission members, indicating the demarcated boundary points (coordinates), to the Permanent Missions of Ethiopia and Eritrea to the United Nations”.

The UNSG also informed the UN Security Council that he proposed an actual demarcation — on the ground — of the border area, but that Eritrea is refusing. The UNSG said the President of Eritrea stated “that the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission has terminated its functions by completing its work through ‘virtual demarcation’ and that ‘the boundary is demarcated’. The letter also states that ‘UNMEE [United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea] has now been left, after five and a half years, with no option other than ‘maintaining occupation’, and urges the Security Council to compel the evacuation of the ‘army and institutions of the Ethiopian regime occupying our sovereign territories to prevent other unnecessary developments’.” But, the UNSG told the Security Council, “the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia contended that the Commission’s virtual demarcation ‘has no validity in international law’.”

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