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. 

Case information

Name(s) of Claimant(s)
Name(s) of Respondent(s) -
Names of Parties


His Excellency Mr. Ali Said Abdella, Foreign Minister of the State of Eritrea, Agent

Professor Lea Brilmayer, Co-Agent, Legal Advisor to the Office of the President of Eritrea

Howard M. Holtzmann Professor of International Law, Yale University School of Law

His Excellency Mr. Mohammed Suleiman Ahmed, Ambassador of the State of Eritrea to the Netherlands

Mr. Habtom Gebremichael, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, State of Eritrea

Ms. Megan Munzert, Associate Legal Advisor to the Office of the President of Eritrea


Mr. O. Thomas Johnson, Covington and Burling

Professor James Crawford, SC, FBA, Whewell Professor of International Law, University of Cambridge


Mr. Eric Brown, Covington and Burling LLP

Ms. Chiara Giorgetti, Università di Bologna

Ms. Karin Kizer, Covington and Burling LLP

Ms. Natalie Klein, Debevoise and Plimpton LLP

Professor Yemane Meshginna, Department of Political Science, University of Asmara

Ms. Erin Casey, Yale University School of Law

Ms. Amanda Jones, Yale University School of Law

Ms. Suma Nair, Covington and Burling LLP



His Excellency Mr. Seyoum Mesfin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Agent

His Excellency Mr. Fisseha Yimer, Ambassador of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to Switzerland and to the United Nations in Geneva, Co-Agent

Mr. Seifeselassie Lemma, Director of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia


Mr. Ian Brownlie, CBE, QC, FBA, Chichele Professor of Public International Law (Emeritus), University of Oxford

Mr. B. Donovan Picard, Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand LLP

Mr. Rodman R. Bundy, Frere Cholmeley/Eversheds LLP

Ms. Loretta Malintoppi, Frere Cholmeley/Eversheds LLP

Mr. Dylan D. Cors, Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand


Mr. Scott Edmonds, International Mapping Associates, Columbia, Maryland, President

Mr. Robert Rizzutti, International Mapping Associates, Columbia, Maryland, Vice President

Ms. Cheryl Dunn, Frere Cholmeley/Eversheds LLP

Mr. Charles Claypoole, Frere Cholmeley/Eversheds LLP

Mr. Justin M. Cawley, Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand

Mr. Gregson A. Thoms, III, Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson & Hand

Case number 2001-01
Administering institution Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)
Case status Concluded
Type of case Inter-state arbitration
Subject matter or economic sector Border delimitation
Procedural rules Ad Hoc Rules of Procedure
Treaty or contract under which proceedings were commenced -
Language of Proceeding English
Seat of Arbitration (by Country) Netherlands
Arbitrator(s), Conciliator(s), Other Neutral(s)

Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, CBE QC (President)
His Excellency Prince Bola Adesumbo Ajibola (appointed by Ethiopia)
Professor W. Michael Reisman (appointed by Eritrea)
Judge Stephen M. Schwebel (appointed by Eritrea)
Sir Arthur Watts, KCMG QC (appointed by Ethiopia)

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
Additional notes

The delimitation phase was followed by a demarcation phase, which concluded on November 30, 2007.


Procedural Documents
Rules of Procedure
Order concerning the establishment of a field office in Adigrat, Ethiopia
Award or other decision
Eritrea - Ethiopia Boundary Commission Table of Contents
Chapter 1 - Procedural Introduction
Chapter 2 - Substantive Introduction
Chapter 3 - The Task of the Commission and the Applicable Law
Chapter 4 - The Sector Covered by the 1900 Treaty (Central Sector)
Chapter 5 - The Sector Covered by the 1902 Treaty (Western Sector)
Chapter 6 - The Sector Covered by the 1908 Treaty (Eastern Sector)
Chapter 7 - The Boundary Line within Rivers
Chapter 8 - Dispositif
List of Maps 1-13
Decision Regarding the ‘Request for Interpretation, Correction and Consultation’ Submitted by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on 13 May 2002
Decision pursuant to Article 15B of the Commission's Demarcation Directions
Press Release
Press release dated November 17, 2006
Statement of 27 November 2006
Annex Statement of 27 November 2006
Overview map Statement of 27 November 2006
Press Release of November 29, 2006
Press Release of November 30, 2006
Press Release of September 12, 2007
Press Release of November 30, 2007
Agreement of 12 December 2000 between the Government of the State of Eritrea and the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
UN Doc. S/2001/608
UN Doc. S/2001/843
UN Doc. S/2001/1194
UN Doc. S/2002/245
UN Doc. S/RES/1398
UN Doc. S/2002/977
UN Doc. S/RES/1434
UN Doc. S/2002/1393
UN Doc. S/2003/257
UN Doc. S/2003/257/Add.1
UN Doc. S/2003/665
UN Doc. S/2003/665/Add.1
Schedule of the order of activities ahead as at 16 July 2003
UN Doc. S/2003/858
UN Doc. S/RES/1507
UN Doc. S/2003/1186
UN Doc. S/2004/180
UN Doc. S/RES/1560
UN Doc. S/2004/708
UN Doc. S/2005/142
UN Doc. S/2005/400
UN Doc. S/2005/553
UN Doc. S/2005/553/Add.1
UN Doc. S/2006/1
UN Doc. S/2006/140
UN Doc. S/2006/749
UN Doc. S/2007/33
UN Doc. S/2006/992
UN Doc. S/2007/250
UN Doc. S/2007/440
UN Doc. S/2007/645
UN Doc. S/2008/40