n Africa Insight - Keeping the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea : reflections on the involvement of the UN and other role-players

Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


Unlike most major conflicts in contemporary Africa, the Ethiopian-Eritrean conflict is inter-state in nature. Relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea deteriorated as the currency issue effectively led to fierce armed conflict in 1998 on the Tigray border, where the territory then became the centre of the dispute. Both countries subsequently reinforced their troops on the border, digging trenches and building defences. The UN, OAU and Western countries tried to mediate towards the end of 1998, but sporadic conflict between the two parties continued. Eventually, two peace agreements brought an end to fighting and provided for a Boundary Commission to delimit and demarcate the colonial treaty border. The main focus of this article is the interstate conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea, with specific reference to efforts on the part of the UN and other role-players to resolve and manage this conflict in a constructive and peaceful manner. It endeavours to assess mediation efforts since the outbreak of hostilities, with a view to understanding the background to the establishment of the UN mission and its mandate. Furthermore, it analyses the task, profile and role of the UN mission in recent times, as well as endeavours to monitor the cessation of hostilities and to help ensure that a peaceful solution between the (former) belligerents is attained. Finally, the prospects of lasting peace and stability between the two countries are addressed and reflected upon.

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