South Africa supports UNSC Resolution 2023 on Eritrea
The United Nations Security Council has taken a decision to place additional sanctions on Eritrea "for continuing to provide support to armed groups seeking to destabilize Somalia and other parts of the Horn of Africa", building on the arms and travel embargoes it imposed exactly two years ago.
This followed a meeting at which the Council heard a briefing from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
The Council expressed its grave concern in the text that “Eritrea has continued to provide political, financial, training and logistical support to armed opposition groups, including Al-Shabaab, engaged in undermining peace, security and stability in Somalia and the region.” It also condemned the reported planned terrorist attack of January 2011 to disrupt the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, as expressed by the findings of the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group in July.
The group found that the Eritrean Government “conceived, planned, organized and directed a failed plot” to disrupt the summit by bombing a series of civilian and governmental targets.
In December 2009, the Council adopted a resolution which imposed sanctions on Eritrea for supporting insurgents trying to topple the government in nearby Somalia. The measures included an arms embargo on Eritrea, travel bans on the country’s top political and military officials, and the freezing of assets of some of its senior political and military officials.
In this Resolution which was sponsored by Gabon and Nigeria, the Council condemned Eritrea’s violations of earlier resolutions.
It demanded that it “cease all direct or indirect efforts to destabilize States,” including through financial, military, intelligence and non-military assistance, such as the provision of training centres and camps for armed groups, passports, living expenses, or travel facilitation.
In addition, the Council called on Eritrea to engage constructively with Djibouti to resolve their border dispute.
South Africa Supported the Resolution for the following reasons.
The Horn of Africa faces serious challenges of instability and volatility in respect of on-going threats to peace and security in Africa. The instability coupled with famine has resulted in a humanitarian crisis with dire consequences for the population of the region.
South Africa acknowledges and appreciates the important and critical role the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union are playing in the fight against armed groups and the spread of terrorism in the region.
We condemn any act that seeks to destabilise the region. In ensuring peace and stability that would lead to the development of the region, South Africa calls on Eritrea to fully address the allegations and reports of possible support and association with Al Shabaab.
Two years ago, following the African Union’s request, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in response to the reports of Eritrea’s role in destabilizing the region, adopted Resolution 1907.
South Africa calls for the full implementation of resolution 1907. We have taken note that in the past two years, following years of self-imposed isolation, Eritrea has started a process of re-engagement with the international community and the African Union. We also welcome Eritrea’s expressed desire to re-join IGAD.
South Africa is of the strong view that sanctions should not be viewed as an end in itself but should complement a Political Process. In this regard, a political process remains critical to ensuring lasting peace in the Horn of Africa. The African Union Heads of States Summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in July 2011, reiterated its concern about the continued impasse in the peace process in that Region. The African Union committed itself to assist the countries of that Region to peacefully resolve their dispute and normalize relations. We therefore continue to emphasize the importance of the centrality of African solutions in resolving African problems.
In line with Operative Paragraph two of this Resolution, we call on all the concerned Parties in the Region to work with the African Union to peacefully resolve their long standing disputes.
In the implementation of this Resolution, South Africa is of the view that equal attention should be given to engagement in a political process.
South Africa hopes that these additional measures contained in this resolution will not have a negative impact on the people of Eritrea and their livelihood. We also hope that these measures and sanctions will not adversely impact the economy of Eritrea.
Our proposed contribution to the resolution was to ensure that the resolution was balanced with more clarity and that it did not impose collective punishment to ordinary people of Eritrea, and that it did not contain blanket measures that would have dire consequences.
We call on the Monitoring Group to execute its responsibilities and mandate emanating Resolution 1907 and this Resolution with professionalism, impartiality and objectivity. The Monitoring Group should never be influenced by political considerations outside of their mandate. It is important for the Monitoring Group to closely guard its independence and professionalism in the work it does to assist the Council with the implementation of these measures.
South Africa supports the principle that the Security Council must afford Member States an opportunity to be heard when their issues are addressed by the Council. We voted in favour of this resolution in the hope that it will contribute in addressing the challenges of instability in the Horn of Africa and support the efforts of IGAD and the African Union in consolidating peace and security in that region.
For more information please contact Clayson Monyela: 082 884 5974
Issued by DIRCO
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
6 December 2011