Eritrea

Map of Eritrea (courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Background

Eritrea officially became a sovereign state in 1993, after a protracted violent struggle for independence from Ethiopia that began in 1962. Since then, Eritrea has been governed by one president, Isaias Afwerki (BBC, 2018). Afwerki’s tenure in power has seen some successes in improving Eritrean society, such as doubling the adult literacy rate between 1995 and 2015. However, it has also been a period marked by repression and authoritarianism, and the country has remained one of the poorest in the world with a GDP per capita of $1,600 as of 2017 (CIA World Factbook, 2018).

Eritrea has faced serious problems since its independence. One of the most significant one has been its relationship with its neighbour, Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s refusal to accept parity between its currency and the new Eritrean currency (the nafka), introduced in November 1997, resulted in tensions between the two countries. Additionally, Ethiopia’s complaints over the cost of accessing the Eritrean ports of Assab and Mitsiwa have led to further conflict. Disputes over the poorly demarcated border caused a war to break out between the two countries, from May 1998 until June 2000, in which tens of thousands were killed (Phillips, 2011). Despite the signing of the Algiers Agreement in 2000 which officially ended the war, relations between the two states remained tense and they have continued to engage in ‘proxy warfare’ and ‘destabilization activities’ (Atinafu and Bayeh, 2015).

President Afwerki and the administration used the perpetual state of insecurity that existed after 2000 in order to justify repressive governance and the militarisation of society (Human Rights Watch, 2018). As a consequence, between 2000 and 2017, around 12% of Eritrea’s population fled, with 52,000 refugees in 2016 alone (Human Rights Watch, 2018). In 2015, the UN identified an array of ‘systematic, widespread and gross’ human rights violations perpetrated by the Afwerki administration, including forced labour, arbitrary detention and in particular, a policy of mandatory national service which is legally supposed to last 18 months but often goes on indeterminately (UN, 2015). In 2016, a Commission of Inquiry mandated by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) found that there were reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity had been committed by officials in Eritrea since 1991 (OHCHR, 2016).

Current Situation

On 9 July 2018, Eritrea and Ethiopia officially declared an end to the “state of war” that had persisted for decades (New York Times, 2018), and in September 2018, part of the border between the two states was reopened for the first time in 20 years (BBC News, 2018). This represented a seminal moment in Eritrean-Ethiopian relations, and the achievement was recognised within the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2444, which lifted UN sanctions previously imposed on Eritrea (UN, 2018). The sanctions were originally imposed in 2009 because the UN Security Council suspected the state of supporting the terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia (UN, 2009), but were lifted in 2018 in recognition of a failure to find conclusive evidence of this, amid a thawing in relations between Eritrea and its neighbours (UNSC Resolution 2444, 2018).

Some NGOs such as Amnesty International have, however, argued that the end of the war and the lifting of the sanctions will do little to stem the refugee crisis or alleviate the problem of repression in Eritrea which the refugee crisis is symptomatic of. For example, no official statement has yet been made concerning the mandatory national service policy. Citizens continue to be conscripted, despite rumours that the policy was going end. Eritreans thus continue to be subjected to systematic forced labour by the state, which constitutes a crime against humanity (Guardian, 2018).

As a consequence, the flow of refugees does not seem to have diminished in the months since the peace agreement. Between September and October 2018, over 10,000 Eritreans took advantage of the newly-opened Ethiopian border. Most of these refugees were motivated by a desire to escape the repressive regime and the various crimes against humanity which it has committed, particularly for fear of being arbitrarily detained or having to continue indefinite national service (UNHCR, 2018).

Implications

At individual and state level
As mentioned previously, despite the UN lifting sanctions in 2018 because of the rapprochement with Ethiopia, the peace deal is unlikely to change how Afwerki rules Eritrea. This is problematic because it means that Eritreans will continue to be subjected to the numerous crimes against humanity defined in the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute, 1998), and identified by the UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR, 2016). In Eritrea, crimes such as enslavement, imprisonment in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture, sexual violence and discrimination on religious and ethnic grounds have all been perpetrated by the state in the past, and it is likely that the regime will continue to do so.

One of the crimes against humanity committed by the Eritrean state is its programme of forced conscription into indefinite ‘national service’, which UN characterised as ‘enslavement’ in its 2016 UN Commission of Inquiry (Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, 2016). National service conscripts are often forced to work 72-hour weeks in harsh conditions, with inadequate food and low pay (Guardian, 2018). It has had drastic impacts on Eritrean society, too, as conscripts are given only rare opportunities to see their families, and children are forced to grow up without parents (Amnesty, 2018). As of January 2019, the government has not released any long-term national service conscripts (Human Rights Watch, 2019).

The state has also continued to violate the fundamental rules of international law. Political opponents and journalists continue to be threatened by, and subjected to, arbitrary detention. This has recently been demonstrated by the arrest of former Eritrean finance minister Berhane Abrehe on 17 September 2018 after he published a book which criticised Afwerki and the government (Amnesty, 2018). On 17 October 2018, human rights lawyer Henok Aklilu was arbitrarily detained, though he was released from jail without charge on 20 October 2018 (Amnesty, 2018). Furthermore, the state has committed the crime of ‘enforced disappearances’ by refusing to provide information on the fate or whereabouts of those being detained. Not only does this deprive victims of protection of the law, it also creates fear amongst relatives (OHCHR, 2016). The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human rights in Eritrea also found testimonial evidence of state-sanctioned torture (OHCHR, 2016).

The UN Human Rights Council also found that the state has perpetuated widespread sexual and gender-based violence. Women and girls who attempt to flee Eritrea find themselves at higher risk of rape and beatings, usually resulting in unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases, such as HIV. Many women who are detained are not having their needs met, especially those with pregnancies that require additional care, and the crimes of rape and domestic servitude in military training centres, the army and in detention often go unpunished by the state (OHCHR, 2016). There is also a continued concern of forced marriage with underage girls and female genital mutilation going unpunished by the state. In 2018 it was found that 41% of Eritrean women aged 20 to 24 years old has been first married or in union before the age of 18 (UNICEF, 2018), and 83% of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years old have undergone female genital mutilation (UNICEF, 2018).

The following is a podcast interview with Tesfalem Yemane who shares his experience as a refugee from Eritrea. A full transcript of the interview is available here

 

At the Regional Level
Considering that the tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia have destabilised the region over the last decade, the peace agreement signed in July 2018 is said to be ‘one of the most important political changes in East Africa in the past 20 years’ (Al Jazeera, 2018).

However, the flow of refugees leaving Eritrea to escape repressive rule, human rights violations and crimes against humanity, has created additional pressure on neighbouring states. For instance, many Eritrean refugees have fled to Ethiopia: as of September 2018 there were 175,000 Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia, with at least 10,000 having crossed into Ethiopia between September and October 2018, after crossing points were reopened on the shared border on September 11 2018 (UNHCR, 2018). This rapid influx of Eritrean refugees has strained Ethiopian infrastructure, placing huge demand on refugee camps (UNHCR, 2018), and causing concern amongst some Ethiopians who have complained that the migration has led to further demand for already scarce food sources, as well as jobs and places to live (Guardian, 2018).

Eritrean refugees have in some cases faced hostility in their search for asylum. For example, Sudan forcibly returned or ‘repatriated’ 500 Eritreans in 2016 and 2017 combined, whilst Israel has shown a strong reluctance to recognise Eritrean asylum seekers as refugees, having recognised only five up until the end of 2015 (Human Rights Watch, 2017).

What has the international community done?

The United Nations (UN)
The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has emphasised the violations of human rights in Eritrea, and has highlighted ways in which such violations can be addressed. In 2016, the UN Commission of Inquiry mandated by the UNHRC determined that various crimes against humanity were being perpetrated by the Afwerki regime (OHCHR, 2016). After stating that the Eritrean government had neither the political will nor the institutional capacity to prosecute crimes, Special Rapporteur on Eritrea Sheila Keetharuth recommended that the UN Security Council should refer the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and that the African Union (AU) should establish an accountability mechanism to deal with the violation of human rights (UN, 2016). As of February 2019, however, the UN Security Council has yet to refer Eritrea to the ICC, and the African Union has not followed up on recommendations to establish an accountability mechanism. On 12 March 2018, Keetharuth said in a statement that the patterns of human rights violations ‘continue unabated’, and that ‘little has changed regarding basic human rights since in 2012’, arguing that whilst ‘some governments and international actors have invested in strengthening their engagement with the Government of Eritrea’, very little tangible progress had been made in improving the human rights situation in the country (OHCHR, 2018).

The UN Security Council had imposed sanctions upon Eritrea in 2009 after suspecting that the government had been supplying al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, but these sanctions were lifted in 2018 in recognition of a failure to find conclusive evidence of this, and considering the improved relations between Eritrea and its neighbours in the Horn of Africa (UNSC Resolution 2444, 2018). Whilst the sanctions were originally largely unrelated to the R2P doctrine, observers and NGOs have condemned the Council’s decision since it will not alleviate the human rights situation (Human Rights Watch, 2018).

The European Union (EU)
The EU has recognised the violations of human rights and possible perpetration of crimes against humanity by the Eritrean state. On 10 March 2016, the European Parliament issued a resolution recognising the ‘deplorable human rights situation and the complete absence of rule of law and media freedom’ and noted that the violations identified by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea’s ‘may constitute crimes against humanity’. In the resolution the European Parliament urged the Government of Eritrea to end the system of indefinite national service, condemned discrimination on the basis of religion and called for authorities to immediately release imprisoned parliamentarians, journalists, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and (European Parliament, 2016). Since then, however, the EU has said very little about human rights abuses in Eritrea, and has not officially recognised that crimes against humanity have been perpetrated.

The EU has contributed development aid and humanitarian assistance to alleviate problems in the country. As part of the Cotonou Agreement, which provides the framework for the EU’s political, economic and development relations with 79 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), the EU is committed to ‘promoting human rights and democratic principles’ by means of the provision of financial resources and capacity-building support (Cotonou Agreement, 2018).

Most EU development funding to Eritrea is financed by the European Development Fund (European Commission, 2018). Between 2009 and 2013, €53.7 million was contributed to Eritrea, which helped to develop irrigated agriculture and reinforce food security. Between 2016 and 2020, a total of an additional €200 million will have been contributed. Whilst this funding is focused predominantly on improving the Eritrean energy sector, it is also focused on developing governance, which might help to reduce perpetration of crimes committed by the Government of Eritrea (European Commission, 2019). Eritrea also receives funding from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF). The EUTF works with numerous partners to provide over €100 million for projects in the Horn of Africa, directly and indirectly affecting the situation in Eritrea (EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, 2019). For example, the EUTF has provided €40 million for a ‘Better Migration Management Programme’, as part of which there is a focus providing capacity building support for drafting national legislation and policies on migration and border management in Eritrea ‘in particular’ (EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, 2019).

EU policy is clearly oriented towards providing development aid and improving the regional situation in the Horn of Africa. However, whilst the EU has for decades sought to use development aid as a force to advance the cause of human rights (Lomé Convention, 1995), a public consultation held in April 2016 produced a number of criticisms from NGOs, national parliaments, businesses and think-tanks as to the effectiveness of Cotonou Agreement in improving human rights situations, suggesting that ‘political dialogue’ aspect of the agreement is ‘too EU-driven, technical and formalistic’ and that greater care must be taken to ensure that development aid remains conditional upon states’ respect for human rights (Euractiv, 2016). There have also been criticisms directly related to the EU’s relationship with Eritrea. In June 2017, Eritrean activists visited Brussels to lobby the EU over alleged human rights abuses, arguing that EU has overlooked human rights abuses in favour of working with the Eritrean government as part of an attempt to stem the flow of refugees and address the migration problem which affects Europe, of which Eritrea is a main contributor to (RFI, 2017). Furthermore, Member of European Parliament Lars Adaktusson has argued that agreements made between the EU and Eritrea lack ‘conditionality’ and fail to provide a way for the EU to adequately monitor human rights in the country (RFI, 2017).

The African Union (AU)
In 2005 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights adopted Resolution 91 which condemned arbitrary arrests and continued detention without trial in Eritrea, and called for the Government of Eritrea to guarantee fundamental human rights and to free individuals detained without trial (African Commision on Human and People’s Rights, 2005).

On 20 June 2018, chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki-Mahamat, welcomed the positive developments and stabilization in the relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and stressed the AU’s commitment to assisting these member states. Faki-Mahamat commended both the Eritrean and Ethiopian leaderships in making steps toward peace and cooperation, positing that these steps will have a profound impact upon peace and security in the Horn of Africa. However, Faki-Mahamat did not make any direct reference to human rights abuses or crimes against humanity perpetrated in Eritrea, choosing to focus more broadly on the security situation in the Horn of Africa (African Union Commission, 2018).

The International Criminal Court (ICC)
Eritrea signed the Rome statue on 7 October 1998 but has not ratified the agreement (Coalition for the International Criminal Court, 2014). As such, the ICC cannot prosecute crimes committed by the Government of Eritrea, unless the UN Security Council explicitly refers the situation to the ICC. Despite the UN Commission urging the UNSC to refer Eritrea to the ICC (UN OHCR, 2016), the UNSC has yet to do so. This means that the ICC cannot prosecute members of the Eritrean government for committing crimes against humanity, despite such crimes having been identified by the UN Human Rights Council.

Key statements and resolutions from the United Nations

Security Council. Resolution 2444. 14 November 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
The international sanctions imposed on Eritrea were lifted by the security council- 4 months after the signing of the peace agreement. UK Ambassador of the UN (Karen Pierce) states that the resolution recognises improvements in regional peace and security.

UN Security Council. Letter dated 7 November 2018 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea addressed to the President of the Security Council. 9 November 2018. Accessed 30 November 2018.
This letter is from the Somalia and Eritrea monitoring group to the President of the Security Council. It summarises that Eritrea has signed peace agreements with neighbouring countries. There is no report of actions against the 2009 and 2011 sanctions. However, permission to visit the country is still denied.

Security Council. Letter dated 2 November 2017 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea addressed to the President of the Security Council. 6 November 2017. Accessed 1 December 2018.
This letter indicates that the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group have been unable to find evidence that Eritrea is supporting Al-Shabaab. Therefore, it is suggested that they dissociate with sanctions for Eritrea and Somalia.

UN News. At UN, Eritrea’s Foreign Minister says peace deal with Ethiopia ends ‘dark chapter,’ paves way for development. 29 September 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Osman Mohammed Saleh states that sanctions warranted on Eritrea in 2009 and 2011 were part of power games of the International community. Eritrea was victimized and this made the economy suffer and an increase in instability.

UN News. Eritrea: Peace deal prompts hope of internal reforms, to improve fundamental human rights. 18 September 2018. Accessed 30 November.
This report is both a celebration of the achievement of peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia and a continuing critique of the Eritrean authorities. It posits the need for Eritrean authorities to implement bold measures to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights and justice.

UN News. 2018. Eritrea: Peace deal prompts hope of internal reforms, to improve fundamental human rights. 18 September 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
9 July 2018 a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship is signed.

UN News. ‘Wind of hope’ blowing through Horn of Africa says UN chief, as Ethiopia and Eritrea sign historic peace accord. 16 September 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Peace agreement is signed. Saudi Arabia facilitated the agreement. The agreement should strengthen security and stability of the region. Tributes are paid to Saudi Arabia and Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

UN News. Horn of Africa: UN chief welcomes Djibouti agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. 8 September 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Meeting takes place in Dijbouti on 6 September 2018 with Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia where an agreement is signed to restore peace and stability.

UN News. News in Brief 21 June 2018. 21 July 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
UN welcomed peaceful moves between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Security Council. Letter dated 11 July 2018 from the Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General. 12 July 2018. Accessed 1 December 2018.
The Permanent Representative of Djibouti urges the Secretary-General to come up with a new dispute settlement mechanism between Djibouti and Eritrea as conflict between the two countries continues.

UN News. Ending border dispute, just one problem Eritrea must solve. 4 July 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
UN Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) states that ‘diplomatic overtures’ will ease and resolve tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea and the UN will help the countries when making boundary decisions.

UN News. UN chief welcomes ‘first concrete step’ in normalizing Eritrea-Ethiopia relationship. 28 June 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Keetharuth states that human rights violations still persist in Eritrea.

UN News. News in Brief 26 June 2018. 26 June 2018. Accessed 20 November 2018.
It is reported that rights abuses in Eritrea persist. Keetharuth states that the situation in Eritrea remains unchanged.

Security Council. 2017. Resolution 2385. 14 November 2017. Accessed 28 November 2018.
This resolution recognises the efforts of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group to engage with the Eritrean government. It reiterates that Eritrea needs to facilitate entry of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group and urges the government to cooperate fully. The recent efforts of the Eritrean government reaching out to the international community is welcomed.

Security Council. 8099th meeting. 14 November 2017. Accessed 1 December 2018.
This was a meeting concerning the sanctions on Eritrea and Somalia and looking at a letter from the Chair of the Security Council Committee to the President of the Security Council (2 November 2017).

UN News. Eritrea’s future “is walking away” in refugee exodus says UN expert. 31 October 2017. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Thousands Eritreans are walking to reach the border. It is urged that the international community shouldn’t turn it’s back on the refugees for ‘short term political gain’.

UN News. Despite some humanitarian progress in Eritrea, UN relief official urges continued aid to tackle hunger. 13 July 2017. Accessed 20 November 2018.
It is states that the humanitarian situation is improving in Eritrea but international donors need to give malnourishment and food insecurity more attention.

UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. Eritrea: UN expert says embracing human rights vital to shape successful future. 26 June 2018. Accessed 30 November.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea Sheila Keetharuth expresses her concerns on the human rights violations in Eritrea. Through outlining her concerns on the situation in Eritrea, she provides a useful resource in overviewing key issues.

UN News. UN expert urges ‘bold action’ to address raft of human rights abuses in Eritrea. 15 June 2017. Accessed 20 November 2018.
UN rights expert warns the UN not to delay action against severe human rights abuses in a report to Geneva based on Human Rights Council. Keetharuth states that the Eritrean Government ‘has made no effort to end ongoing human rights violations’. There is no constitution and a lack of fundamental institutions that underpin a society based on rule of law. States are urged to take action against Eritrea’s involvement with crimes against humanity.

Security Council. Resolution 2317. 10 November 2016. Accessed 28 November 2018.
This resolution urges Eritrea to cooperate with the security council. It underlines the importance of Eritrea keeping the Security Council informed that they are complying to previous resolutions. It urges Eritrea to allow Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group to visit and make their information available to the security council.

Security Council. 7807th letter. 10 November 2016. Accessed 1 December 2018.
In this meeting there were 10 votes in favour for the resolution that urges Eritrea to engage with the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group. It also looks at the letter from the Chair of the Council Committee to the President of the Security Council (7 October 2016).

Security Council. Letter dated 7 October 2016 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea addressed to the President of the Security Council. 31 October 2016. Accessed 1 December 2018.
The Monitoring Group explains that they have both had any cooperation from Eritrea to help them investigate behaviour following the 2009 and 2011 sanctions. Despite evidence that Eritrea is supporting anti – Ethiopian groups this evidence is only anecdotal. It is also reported that there is a new strategic military relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Due to Eritrea’s lack of transparency the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group have been unable to make much progress.

UN News. UN expert panel cites crimes against humanity committed by Eritrean authorities dating back 25 years. 28 October 2016. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Sheila Keetharuth concluded that the Government of Eritrea neither has the political will nor the institutional capacity to prosecute crimes. Un Security Council need to refer to the prosecutor of the ICC and AU to establish an accountability mechanism. Eritreans are among the largest African nationals seeking asylum in Europe.

UN News. Ban urges ‘maximum restraint’ in wake of reported fighting at border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. 15 June 2016. Accessed 20 November 2018.
UN Secretary-General (Ban Ki-Moon) has a meeting in Brussels with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea. Here, the full implementation of the peace agreements signed in 2000 and the fighting at the border between the two countries on the 12 and 13 June was discussed.

OHCHR. UN Inquiry finds crimes against humanity in Eritrea. 8 June 2016. Accessed 20 November 2018.
UN statement that crimes against humanity are taking place in Eritrea. Crimes such as rape, torture, unending national service, arbitrary detention and enslavement.

UN News. ‘Crimes against humanity committed in Eritrea, warns UN group’. 8 June 2016. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Crimes against humanity have been happening in Eritrea for the last 25 years according to this statement. These crimes tend to happen in detention facilities and military training camps. Mike Smith states: ‘Eritrea is an authoritarian state’ and the ICC should ensure that there is accountability for atrocities in Eritrea. There is no improvement in human rights since the first Commission of Inquiry report published in June 2015. The People’s Front for Democracy and Justice should bear responsibility for this. Commission was denied access to visit the country.

UN News. Eritrea “responsible for crimes against humanity”. 8 June 2016. Accessed 20 November 2018.
Crimes against humanity are brought to attention in this statement. Crimes such as arbitrary detention, torture and unending national service. 300 – 400 000 are predicted to have been treated in this way. The Eritrean government declares this false.

OHCHR. Detailed findings of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea. 8 June 2016. Accessed 20 November 2018.
In detail record of crimes against humanity committed in Eritrea.

OHCHR. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea. 1 June 2016. Accessed 20 November 2018.
The Commision of Inquiry of human rights in Eritrea held a press conference on 8 June 2016. Findings of crimes against humanity in Eritrea were reported.

OHCHR. Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea. 9 May 2016. Accessed 8 February 2019.
This report details the human rights violations in Eritrea. From enslavement, to torture and rape. There are many other violations reported too.

Security Council. Letter dated 31 March 2016 from the Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General. 1 April 2016. Accessed 1 December 2018.
Djibouti informs the United Nations that they are encouraged that 4 of the 19 Djiboutian prisoners in Eritrea have been released. But urges the UN to take action as 15 still remain in prison and are being treated inhumanely.

Security Council. 7626th meeting. 18 February 2016. Accessed 1 December 2018.
This is a briefing by the Chair of the Somalia and Eritrea sanctions.

Security Council. Resolution 2244 (2015) Adopted by the Security Council at its 7541st meeting, on 23 October 2015. 23 October 2015. Accessed 30 November 2018.
The Security Council reaffirm sanctions, expresses concern of Al- Shabaab threatening the security of Eritrea, and condemns any flow of weapons. The resolution welcomes the continued efforts of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group.

Security Council. Report of the commission of inquiry on human rights in Eritrea. 4 June 2015. Accessed 1 December 2018.
An investigation in accordance with the Human Rights Council took place. Here, they found gross violations of human right even though their access to Eritrea was denied. Democracy was suppressed and individuals were denied fundamental freedoms. It was also discovered that Eritreans’ were subject to unending national service.

Security Council. Resolution 2111. 24 July 2013. Accessed 8 February 2019.
This resolution reauthorizes the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group until 25 November 2014. To investigate into Eritrea’s influence in Somalia.

Security Council. Report of the Secretary-General on Eritrea. 29 August 2012. Accessed 30 November 2018.
The Security Council report on how Eritrea is responding to the 2011 sanctions. It is stated that Eritrea is still violating the laid out resolutions and continues to deny these violations. The Government of Eritrea is strongly urged to engage in dialogue with the Committee and the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group.

Security Council. Resolution 2060. 25 July 2012. Accessed 8 February 2018.
This resolution extends the mandate of the Monitoring Group for 13 months. It also urges for cooperation from Eritrea and asks for the appropriate financial arrangements from the UN to support the Monitoring Group.

Security Council. Report of the Secretary-General on Eritrea. 8 June 2012. Accessed 30 November 2018.
This report sets out to observe Eritrea’s reaction to the 2011 resolution. It is observed that since June 2010 tensions in the Horn of Africa have been rising. Eritrea continues to deny allegations that it is failing to adhere to the 2011 resolution. A lack of progress is observed on all levels.

Security Council. Letter dated 19 January 2012 from the Permanent Representative of Eritrea to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security Council. 19 January 2012. Accessed 1 December 2018.
Eritrea rejects accusations of their association with an attack from an Ethiopian group against foreign tourists. The Permanent representative of Eritrea states that Eritrea is continually falsely accused of associations with Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Security Council. Resolution 2023. 5 December 2011. Accessed 30 November 2018.
The sanctions from 2009 are reinforced. The Security Council demands that Eritrea ceases all efforts to destabilize other states. Furthermore it was decided that Eritrea should stop using extortion, threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea from its nationals or other individuals of Eritrean descent.

Security Council. Resolution 2002. 29 July 2011. Accessed 8 February 2019.
This resolution extends the mandate of the Monitoring Group for 12 months. It reiterates Eritrea’s involvement in Somalia is undermining peace and is a threat to the peace of the region.

Security Council. Report of the Secretary-General on Eritrea.22 June 2010. Accessed 30 November 2018.
In this report Eritrea’s compliance with the 2009 resolution observed. Positive steps are observed but Eritrea is urged to be more willing to share evidence of their compliance to the 2009 resolution.

Security Council. Resolution 1916. 19 March 2010. Accessed 8 February 2019.
The mandate for the Monitoring Group is extended for 12 months. It condemns the flow of weapons through Somalia and Eritrea and it determines that Eritrea is continuing to undermine the peace of the region.

Security Council. Resolution 1907. UN News. 23 December 2009. Accessed 7 February 2019.
Sanctions are imposed on Eritrea due to their involvement in Somalia. The sanction includes an arms embargo, travel restrictions and asset freezes.

Security Council. Statement by the President of the Security Council. 19 May 2009. Accessed 30 November 2018.
The President of the Security Council held a meeting anddiscussed reports of Eritrea breaching the UN arms embargo. The Sanctions Monitoring Group are urged to investigate.

Security Council. Resolution 1862. 14 January 2009. Accessed 8 February 2019.
This resolution demands that Eritrea withdraws forces from the status quo ante. It also expresses concern of border tensions Djibouti and urges them to resolve the dispute peacefully.

Security Council. Security Council Press Statement on Djibouti, Eritrea. 25 June 2008. Accessed 1 December 2018.
The Security Council expresses strong concern following the serious incidents which occurred on the border of Djibouti and Eritrea. The Security Council reiterated that Eritrea needs to withdraw forces. The press statement states that a fact finding mission on Eritrea will commence.

Security Council. Statement by the President of the Security Council. 12 June 2008. Accessed 30 November 2018.
The President of the Security Council makes a statement about concerns following the ‘serious incidents’ along the frontier of Djibouti and Eritrea on 10 June 2008. Eritrea’s military action is condemned. The efforts of the AU are welcomed.

Security Council. General Assembly – Forty-seventh Session. 15 April 1993. Accessed 1 December 2018.
Eritrea is admitted into the United Nations

Key statements and resolutions from the European Union

Khartoum Process. Joint Valletta Action Plan Senior Officials Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 14-15 November 2018. Accessed 29 November 2018.
Senior Officials from across Europe and Africa met on November 14th and 15th 2018 in Ethiopia, to follow up conclusions established during the Senior Officials Meeting in Malta 2017 and progress made under the Joint Valletta Action Plan adopted in 2015. A report has not yet been published on this.

European External Action Service. Statement by HR/VP Mogherini on Reconciliation and Economic Integration in the Horn of Africa. 14 November 2018. Accessed 29 November 2018.
This is a statement by Vice President Federica Mogherini on Reconciliation and Economic Integration in the Horn of Africa. It claims that the EU will offer its experience and support in order to accelerate reconciliation and economic integration for all the countries of the Horn of Africa.

European Council. African Union – European Union relations: joint consultative meeting on peace and security. 23 October 2018. Accessed 2 December 2018.
This was the 11th Annual Joint Consultative Meeting of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the European Union and of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the AU. During the meeting, both PSC’s welcome the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

European External Action Service. Statement by HR/VP Mogherini on the signature of the Joint Declaration between Eritrea and Ethiopia. 9 July 2018. Accessed 29 November 2018.
This is the signature of the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Eritrean President Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

European External Action Service. EU Delegation in Eritrea participated in the validation meeting of the baseline survey in support of the ‘Support to the Agricultural Sector/Food Security in Eritrea’ project. 3 August 2017. Accessed 2 December 2018.
This is a report from the meeting to validate the baseline survey in support of the ‘Support to the Agricultural Sector/Food Security in Eritrea’ project, which is expected to run until October 2019. The project seeks to enhance food security through increased agricultural production and productivity and to improve food access at household level. It is funded under the 10th European Development Fund which has a total budget of 40.7 million euros.

European Parliament. European Parliament 2017 Resolution on Eritrea. 6 July 2017. Accessed 22 November 2018.
The EU Parliament resolution (6 July 2017) addresses the human rights crisis in Eritrea. It strongly condemns Eritrea’s current widespread and gross violations of human rights, including detentions of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders and innocent civilians by the Eritrean Government. Specific reference is made to the case of Dawit Isaak (one of ten journalists detained incommunicado since 2001). The resolution states that the EU, UN, and AU should closely monitor the overall situation in Eritrea and report all cases of violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It calls on the Eritrean Government to allow the creation of other political parties as an important way of promoting democracy, and calls for human rights organisations to be allowed to freely operate within the country.

European Council. Declaration by the High Representative F. Mogherini on behalf of the EU on the 15th anniversary of the decision on the border delimitation by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission. 13 April 2017. Accessed 2 December 2018.
This is a declaration by the High Representative F. Mogherini on behalf of the EU, which marks the 15th anniversary of the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) regarding the delimitation of the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Official Journal of the European Union. Council Decision 2017/435, Cotonou Agreement. 28 February 2017. Accessed 22 November 2018.
This is the partnership agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000, as first amended in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005.

European Asylum Support Office (EASO). EASO Country of Origin Information Report: Eritrea, National service and illegal exit. November 2016. Accessed 6 December 2018.
This is a report by the EASO, which provides a summary of the State Secretariat for Migration’s (SEM) findings on aspects related to national service and illegal exists in Eritrea, relevant to international protection status determination for Eritrean asylum seekers.

Delegation of the EU to the State of Eritrea. Eritrea and EU sign landmark agreement on future development cooperation, promoting renewable energy and sound governance (29/01/2016). 11 August 2016. Accessed 6 December 2018.
This is a press report regarding the signing of the National Indicative Program (NIP) on 28th January 2016 under the 11th European Development Fund, by Dr Giorgis Teklemichael (Eritrean Minister for National Development) and Christian Manahl (EU Head of Delegation).

European External Action Service. 11th European Development Fund, National Indicative Programme 2014-2020. 15 July 2016. Accessed 6 December 2018.
This report provides a detailed overview of the EU’s relationship with Eritrea. It includes the EU’s commitment to agriculture/food security, education, health, manufacturing and marketing, renewable energy and technologies.

Euractiv. Is EU development aid working? 10 May 2016. Accessed 6 December 2018.
This report explores whether aid from the EU (which is the biggest donor of humanitarian and development assistance worldwide) is effective, focusing on Africa and the refugee crises.

Frontex. Risk Analysis for 2016. March 2016. Accessed 29 November 2018.
This is the European border agency (Frontex) risk analysis. It claims that 4,000-5,000 Eritreans flee it’s borders every month. In 2015 a total of 38,791 crossed the Mediterranean. It also states that Eritreans are ranked first in terms of nationalities of migrants arriving on the Central Mediterranean route.

European Court of Auditors. EU external migration spending in Southern Mediterranean and Eastern Neighbourhood countries until 2014. Jan 2016. Accessed 6 December 2018.
This is a report on the external dimensions of the EU’S common migration policy, which aim to provide effective management of migration flows. The report examines the overall effectiveness of spending of the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI/TPMA) and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPA).

BBC News. Migrant Crisis: France Valls warns on refugee numbers. 25 November 2015. Accessed 6 December 2018.
This news article reports that Manuel Valls has insisted that France will not accept more than 30,000 asylum seekers over the next two years.

European Council. Valletta Summit, Action Plan. 11-12 November 2015. Accessed 29 November.
This is a political declaration and action plan that was adopted by African and EU leaders at the Valletta Summit on migration in Malta, 2015. The EU launched an Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, which is mainly concerned with the increase in flows of refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants in countries including Eritrea. Additionally it outlines its members commitment to respect international obligations and human rights.

European Council. EUNAVFOR Med: EU agrees to start the active phase of the operation against human smugglers and to rename it “Operation Sophia”. 28 September 2015. Accessed 6 December 2018.
This is a report on the agreement made by the EU Ambassadors within the Political and Security Committee to start the first step of the second phase of EUNAVFOR MED, renamed “Operation Sophia”, on 7 October 2017. The operation is aimed at disrupting the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean, and to prevent the further loss of life at sea. It is part of a wider EU comprehensive approach to migration, tackling both the symptoms and root causes (such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution).

European Council. Brussels report. 22 July 2015. Accessed 2 December 2018.
This report includes the conclusions of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of resettling through multilateral and national schemes 20 000 persons in clear need of international protection. It includes an agreement to take account of priority regions for resettlement, including the Horn of Africa (Eritrea).

Khartoum Process. Rome Declaration: Ministerial Conference. 28 November 2014. Accessed 29 November 2018.
This is a key strategic document of the Khartoum Process, which was adopted at the Ministerial Conference in Rome in 2014. It’s members agreed to assist participating states in tackling migration problems between the Horn of Africa and Europe, in particular human trafficking and smuggling.

Official Journal of the European Communities. Partnership Agreement. 23 June 2000. Accessed 22 November 2018.
This is the partnership agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000, as first amended in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005. The agreement confirms their commitment to work together towards the achievement of the objectives of poverty eradication, sustainable development, economic growth, and the gradual integration of the ACP countries into the world economy.

To learn more

Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Situation in Eritrea. Submission to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. 27 April 2018. Accessed 28 November 2018.
This open letter regarding the situation in Eritrea offers a comprehensive summary of recent human rights violations documented by the Human Rights Watch. Outlining abuses and issues in ‘national service’, the absence of the general rule of law and government interference with religion.

Gervase Phillips. Eritrea-Ethiopia Conflict 1998-2000, The Encyclopedia of War. 13 Nov 2011. Accessed 28 November 2018.

Kidanu Atinafu and Endalcachew Bayeh. ‘The Ethio-Eritrean Post-war Stalemate: An Assessment on the Causes and Prospects’. 5 April 2015. Accessed 28 November 2018

This brief was put together by the ECR2P interns Amelia Cookson, Phoebe Heins, Sofia Gagliano, Ollie Maher, Claudia Hawkins and Caela Johnson under the supervision of Dr Eglantine Staunton.

Last updated on 27 February 2019