On the Final Award Issued By the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission
It is to be recalled that Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, established pursuant to Article 5 of the Algiers Agreement concluded between Ethiopia and Eritrea in December 2000, determined that Eritrea:
“… violated Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter of the United Nations by resorting to armed force on May 12, 1998 and the immediately following days to attack and occupy the town of Badme, then under peaceful administration by the Claimant (Ethiopia), as well as other territory in the Claimant’s Tahtay Adiabo and Laelay Adiabo Weredas.”
The Commission has now ended its work by issuing the Final Damages Award. Its final award, rendered on 17 August 2009, contains a number of technical matters. What should be highlighted at this stage are its main parts. Accordingly, the Claims Commission has awarded Ethiopia the total monetary compensation of US$174,036,520, while awarding Eritrea the total monetary compensation of US$161,455,000 for its own claims and US$2,065,865 in respect of claims presented on behalf of individual claimants.
The nature of the compensation awarded to Ethiopia consists of awards growing out of Eritrea’s unprovoked aggression against Ethiopia as determined by the Commission. These damages relate to, among others, death, physical injury, disappearance of Ethiopian civilians, destruction of property, looting and damage to buildings, businesses and infrastructure belonging to the public, private or religious institutions; internal displacement of persons and for mistreatment of Ethiopian prisoners of war and for deaths and injuries caused by landmines.
The Commission has also decided that Eritrea violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by arresting and detaining the Ethiopian Chargé d’Affaires and by violating official Ethiopian diplomatic correspondence and interfering with the functioning of the Ethiopian diplomatic mission to be appropriate reparation. Eritrea has also been awarded compensation for alleged violation of diplomatic premises but this pales in comparison to Eritrea’s illegal actions in arresting and detaining Ethiopia’s Chargé d’Affaires in Asmara. Most of the award for Eritrea consists of property damage allegedly incurred in connection with the counteroffensive to repel Eritrea’s aggression.
The difference between the totality of the awards between the two countries means that Eritrea owes Ethiopia over ten million US dollars. This is a very small amount given the gravity of the crime of aggression committed by Eritrea as determined by the Commission itself. Nonetheless, the amount of compensation, totally incommensurate with Eritrea’s offences, does not detract from the fact that Eritrea’s brutal actions in flagrant violation of international law has again come to light as the United Nations Security Council considers sanction against Eritrea for acts of destabilization in the Horn of Africa. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia shall further study the details of the final award and measures that could be taken to ensure what is owed to Ethiopia by Eritrea is settled. The most important matter, however, is that from the outset the Claims Commission has found Eritrea to be the culprit in this sad saga between the two countries that were dragged into war as a result of Eritrea’s aggression.
18 August 2009
Ministry of Foreign Affairs