Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission
In May 1998, armed conflict broke out between the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the State of Eritrea. On 12 December 2000, the Governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea concluded the Algiers Agreement which terminated military hostilities and provided, inter alia, for the establishment of the Boundary Commission. The Boundary Commission was mandated to "delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border based on pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902 and 1908) and applicable international law."
The Boundary Commission was seated in The Hague with the Permanent Court of Arbitration serving as registry and the UN Cartographic Section providing technical support. The Chief of the UN Cartographic Section was appointed as the Boundary Commission's Secretary. As provided in the Algiers Agreement, the Secretary reviewed the claims and evidence of the Parties and identified the portions of the border which were not in dispute.
In Article 4(1) of the Algiers Agreement, the Parties "reaffirm the principle of respect for the borders existing at independence" as espoused by the OAU Summit in Cairo in 1964 (principle of uti possidetis). In its delimitation decision, the Boundary Commission had regard to this principle and also to the role of subsequent conduct of the Parties, including inter alia activities on the ground tending to show the exercise of sovereign authority (effectivités). The colonial treaties of 1900, 1902 and 1908 related, respectively, to the central, western, and eastern sectors of the boundary. In each of these sectors, the Boundary Commission determined the boundary by reference to the pertinent colonial treaty as modified, where relevant, by the subsequent conduct of the Parties. The Boundary Commission set out its description of the boundary as so determined in a unanimous decision dated April 13, 2002.
The second part of the Boundary Commission's mandate was to demarcate the boundary. Upon the issuance of the delimitation decision, the Parties announced their full acceptance of the decision and called upon the Boundary Commission to conduct an expeditious demarcation. The Boundary Commission issued Demarcation Directions on July 8, 2002 and established field offices in Asmara, Addis Ababa and Adigrat. Between March and August 2003 the Boundary Commission completed part of the demarcation in the eastern sector. When the Boundary Commission attempted to commence demarcation in the central and western sectors, an impasse arose between the Parties after Ethopia called into question certain parts of the delimitation decision.
Having been unable to continue with the demarcation, the Boundary Commission held a meeting with the Parties in March 2006, with a view to enabling the resumption of demarcation activities, but without success. The UN Security Council was seized of the situation and requested that the Parties comply with their obligations under the Algiers Agreement. Following further unsuccessful attempts to meet with the Parties, the Boundary Commission met in private session at The Hague on November 20, 2006. On November 27, 2006 the Boundary Commission issued a "Statement" on an alternative approach of identifying the location of points for the emplacement of pillars by the use of image processing and terrain modeling techniques. The Statement provided inter alia that if by the end of November 2007 the Parties had not reached agreement on the emplacement of pillars, the boundary would automatically stand as demarcated by the boundary points listed in the annex to the Statement. Following a meeting with the Parties held on September 6 and 7, 2007 which did not yield any agreement, the Boundary Commission determined, on November 30, 2007, that the pillar locations identified in the annex to the Statement became binding on the Parties.
|Name(s) of Claimant(s)|
|Name(s) of Respondent(s)||()|
|Names of Parties||
GOVERNMENT OF ERITREA
His Excellency Mr. Ali Said Abdella, Foreign Minister of the State of Eritrea, Agent
Howard M. Holtzmann Professor of International Law, Yale University School of Law
GOVERNMENT OF ETHIOPIA
|Administering institution||Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)|
|Type of case||Inter-state arbitration|
|Subject matter or economic sector||Border delimitation|
|Rules used in arbitral proceedings||Ad Hoc Rules of Procedure|
|Treaty or contract under which proceedings were commenced||-|
|Language of Proceeding||English|
|Seat of Arbitration (by Country)||Netherlands|
Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, CBE QC (President);
|Representatives of the Claimant(s)||-|
|Representatives of the Respondent(s)||-|
|Representatives of the Parties|
|Number of Arbitrators in case||5|
|Date of commencement of proceeding||12 December 2000|
|Date of issue of final award||13 April 2002|
|Length of Proceedings||1-2 years|
The delimitation phase was followed by a demarcation phase, which concluded on November 30, 2007.