NAIROBI (HAN) April 27, 2016. Public Diplomacy & Regional Security News. By Sophia Tesfamariam. Obstructionist states paralyze the UN and prevent it from carrying out its mandate. When the obstructionist state is a member of the UN Security Council, it leads to further frustration by member states and undermine the efficacy and legitimacy of the Security Council. Notwithstanding the fact that the mainstream media have ignored the latest un-diplomatic and egregious action by the United States, Innercity Press, now fast becoming the only credible source at the UN, reported the following on 19 April 2016:
“…While the Security Council discussed Somalia on Tuesday, behind the scene the next president of the Council for May, Egypt, has proposed a Council trip to Somalia, Egypt, and at least initially Eritrea, Inner City Press is exclusively told…But the US is balking at the inclusion of Eritrea and it may be dropped… The proposed trip would have included Eritrea not only because it is on the Council’s sanctions list, even amid admissions of no proof of support to Al Shabab, but also because of Yemen and regional peace and security. But the US, the sources tell Inner City Press, does not want a Council trip to include Eritrea…”
This is not the first time that the US has used its power at the United Nations to undermine the rights of the Eritrean people. It is also not the first time that the US is attempting to muzzle Eritrea’s voice and prevent the Council from making informed decisions on issues relating to Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Horn region.US’ actions are a clear a violation of Articles 24, 31 and 32 of the UN Charter.
Article 24 says:
“…In discharging these duties the Security Council shall act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations. The specific powers granted to the Security Council for the discharge of these duties are laid down in Chapters VI, VII, VIII, and XII…”
The UN Security Council was created after the most destructive war in history to help the world respond to global security threats, but today, the US prevents the Council from fulfilling its “primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security”, by using its influence to undermine international law and advance political agendas that compromise the Council’s international obligations and trust. The silence of the rest of the Security Council members as the US continues to obstruct their work does not bode well for the credibility and integrity of the UN system…
Article 31 of the UN Charter states the following:
“…Any Member of the United Nations which is not a member of the Security Council may participate, without vote, in the discussion of any question brought before the Security Council whenever the latter considers that the interests of that Member are specially affected…”
In addition, Article 32 says:
“…Any Member of the United Nations which is not a member of the Security Council or any state which is not a Member of the United Nations, if it is a party to a dispute under consideration by the Security Council, shall be invited to participate, without vote, in the discussion relating to the dispute. The Security Council shall lay down such conditions as it deems just for the participation of a state which is not a Member of the United Nations…”
In December 2011, the Security Council refused to delay a planned vote after Eritrea asked for an extension to allow President Isaias Afewerki to speak to the Council. On 3December 2011, H.E. Osman Saleh, Eritrea’s Foreign Minister wrote a letter to the UN Security Council in which he said:
“…I am writing to bring to your attention and the attention of all members of the Security Council Eritrea’s strong objection to the attempt to deny it by subterfuge its reasonable and legitimate right to address the Council in order to present pertinent facts…For the past five weeks, the United States doggedly obstructed Eritrea’s request in order to prevent the intervention of President Isaias Afwerki from having any influence on the Council’s deliberations. Having undertaken a campaign of pressure and disinformation throughout that time, it sought first to impose a precipitate vote on the Security Council and when that failed, it resorted to the not-so-subtle tactic of making the President’s intervention logistically impossible and rendering it a mere formality and utterly meaningless…This action by the United States has made a mockery of the United Nations Security Council…”
While the President of Eritrea was denied the opportunity to address the Council, arrangements were made for Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia and other Horn leaders, to address the Council via video conference.
H.E. Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN had his doubts about the said “evidence” manufactured in Ethiopia and presented as fact by the SEMG. In rejecting the findings of the 2011 SEMG report, Churkin said that the Council wasn’t given “probative information…” on the SEMG 2011 report. But Susan Rice had a different opinion. On 5 December 2010, when Inner City Press asked Rice about the lack of independently verifiable evidence in the SEMG’s report, she unashamedly and arrogantly stated the following:
“…The Ethiopian Government enabled every embassy in Addis Ababa that wished to come and view the evidence themselves. Some took the opportunity to do so; others didn’t. I don’t understand the basis for Russia’s claim that the evidence was not available or not compelling. From the United States’ point of view, we have every confidence in the veracity of that evidence…”
Another resolution (2023) was adopted against Eritrea based on “evidence” provided to the Somalia Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) by Ethiopia…so much for justice!
The Security Council is made up of five permanent members, or the P5—China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—as well as ten non-permanent members. Nine votes cast in favor of a resolution are required for a resolution to pass (including the concurring votes of the P5 in substantive matters), and each of the P5 has the power to veto a resolution (Article 27 of the U.N. Charter). States have repeatedly called for reform of the Council as the veto gives undue deference to the political interests of the P5.
US obstructionist role on issues relating to Eritrea and Ethiopia is a clear example…but is not new…it has prevailed for decades.The US has shirked its responsibilities as a permanent member of the Security Council and prevented the Council from taking punitive actions against the belligerent minority regime in Ethiopia, which continues its 14-year long occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories. Not only is the US a member of the UN Security Council, it is also one of the guarantors and witnesses to the Algiers Agreements signed by Eritrea and Ethiopia, bringing an end to the bloody 1998-2000 “border” conflict.
The SEMG has stated in three successive reports that it has found no evidence to link Eritrea with Al Shabbab, yet the 6 year long sanctions have not been lifted. Whether the Security Council visits Eritrea or not, should not be the primary concern here. With today’s advanced technologies and fast communication platforms, anything Eritrea has to say to the Council can be said and the US cannot muzzle Eritrea’s voice indefinitely…the more serious issue is the Council’s legitimacy.
Populations around the world have become jaded-and the UN does not carry the respect that it had back then. It is no longer a symbol of fraternity and common good and it has instead become a political tool of the powerful few. Some say it is increasingly illegitimate and ineffective, not just because of its inequitable geographic composition, but more so because of its declining relevance, its ability to focus on today’s real security threats, and inability to ensure compliance with its ostensibly binding resolutions…in other words, its inability to fulfill its moral and legal obligations under the UN Charter. Some analysts contend that the Council is in poor and even terminal condition…obstructionist states, feed that perception.
The United States, has frequently played an obstructionist role in the United Nations when it felt it was in its own interests, and no doubt other permanent members of the Council have done the same, but the 64 million dollar question that all Eritreans are asking today is-to what end? How does this stance by the US advance its interests in the region? How does undermining the important role of the Security Council in order to appease Ethiopia, or because of the personal animosity of some individuals in the US Administration, advance US’ long term interests in the region and globally? Are countries like Eritrea doomed to suffer because of the personal whims of individuals in the US Administration? Is that sound US policy? What recourse do the people of Eritrea have for the decades long injustices perpetrated against them by such obstructionist behaviors?
Not only is the US allowing Ethiopia to violate the UN Charter, the Eritrean Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s (EEBC) final and binging delimitation and demarcation decisions, but it is also preventing the Council from lifting the illegal and unjust sanctions imposed against the State of Eritrea and its people. This is also not the first time that the UN has betrayed the Eritrean people at the behest of the United States, and will probably not be the last.
This kind of childish behavior by the US greatly diminishes its leadership position, not to mention its fledgling reputation as an honest broker for peace, stability and security, and its long term ability to exert influence in the world…Denying the Eritrean people their rights under the UN Charter erodes their confidence in the world body.