Thursday, February 29, 2024
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Analysis of the UNSC Consultation on the Ethio-Somali Conflict

By Faisal A Roble

Ethiopia is or has been potentially at war with Somalia. As such, creating a false narrative is part of the war. Both Ethiopia’s Field Marshal Birhanu Jula and the Federal Government of Ethiopia’s pervasive media have been beating the drum for war.

UNSC meeting

Mr. Jula said, in a speech to his troops stationed in Hursa near Harar that “no force will thwart Ethiopia’s goal to access the Sea of Somalia.” Such a message is sent ad nauseum by the government controlled Ethiopian Broadcasting TV (EBT) and Walta TV.

In particular, the pro-government paper in Addis Ababa, “The Reporter,” seems to be eager to join a war that has yet to start. Its propensity to distort the messaging of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Somalia and Ethiopia, January 29, 2024, is exemplified by this heading: “The UNSC Redirects the Somaliland Dispute.”  There was no agenda with the heading of “Somaliland.”

The agenda discussed by the UNSC was the “Ethio-Somali dispute” where Ethiopia violated the sovereignty of Somalia. The UNSC by law cannot discuss Somaliland in this context for it is not a member state.

Somalia requested that the matter between Somalia and Ethiopia be looked at. Because of that, Somalia submitted the title and the request in which case it did not give any heading to “Somaliland.”

In its letter of submission of consultation dated January 23, 2024, Somalia cited Article 35 of the UN Charter and said the  the following:

 “Any UN member state may bring any dispute, or any situation referred to in Article 34 [that is, one that may lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute] to the attention of the Security Council or of the General Assembly…” or, “may bring any dispute, or any situation referred … that may lead to international friction or give rise to a dispute] to the attention of the Security Council or of the General Assembly.”

No public outcome so far from the meeting since the matter was considered in a close session. However, we know that the case is remanded to AU and IGAD. But the request and the agenda formulation took into account Somalia’s request.

The UNSC consultation on the situation between Somalia and Ethiopia was never on Somaliland per se as Addis Ababa’s “The Reporter” put it. The consultation was asked by the Somali Federal Government (SFG) which accused the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) on the grounds that the latter violated the former’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The UNSC met on January 29, 2024 in a closed door session. According to diplomatic source, each of A3 plus other major countries at the UNSC meeting came strongly against Ethiopia’s position:

  1. China unequivocally opposed Ethiopia’s behavior.
  2. Algeria called Ethiopia’s pursuit of the MoU immoral and a bridge of international rule.
  3. Russia strongly affirms Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  4. Franch rejects Ethiopia’s move and stands with Somalia.
  5. Brazil Strongly supports Somalia and its sovereignty.
  6. Mozambique went out of its way and said “Ethiopia is not the only state that is landlocked therefore needs to respect international law.
  7. The US said Ethiopia’s action is a danger to US interest and national security.
  8. France also opposed Ethiopia’s infractions and violations of Somalia’s sovereignty.

In the past, “China, the UK, and the US—as well as the EU have expressed the importance of respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia.

As such, Somalia requested on January 23, 2024 that the UNSC hold a meeting. Somalia’s request cited Article 35 of the UN Charter and said the following.

As to remanding the case to IGAD and AU, both regional entities spoke and said on the record that Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is not on the table. 

Therefore, the UN has not erred to remand the case to AU and IGAD, which has already made its decision. At the 42nd extraordinary-assembly of IGAD Heads of States, Kampala, Uganda, IGAD “Reaffirmed the cardinal principles of respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia; and any engagement should uphold the above cardinal principles, and any agreement or arrangement should be with the consent of the Federal Government of Somalia;”

According to Lylie Farmer (The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol.4, no.10, January 2012) , Article 2 of the OUA is entirely state-centric, emphasizing that the purpose of the OAU is “to defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity and independence. Commitment to sovereignty …. and the principles of non-interference are stated as well as the respect for each state’s “inalienable right to independent existence. This shows that the Monrovia group’s understanding of sovereignty was embedded in the OAU’s Charter.

Leila further argues that with the notion of popular sovereignty in its constitution and peace and security institutions, the AU has a greater capacity to achieve the ideals of Pan-Africanism.   And that is where Prime Minister Abiy completely undermined the 60-year-old pan-African philosophy. Regionalism is only possible when sovereignty is respected.

As such, there is no need, from Somalia’s point of view, for another IGAD or AU meeting on this matter. Case closed. If Ethiopia wants to invade parts of Somalia, that is another story. Such a move is anti-AU and anti-pan africanism, a concept PM Abiy milked disproportionately when he was committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in his own country.

There is no door open for Ethiopia to annex Somalia’s waters except to invade, and that is globally and regionally a criminal act against a sovereign nation.

Faisal A. Roble
Email: [email protected]

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Faisal Roble, the former editor of WardheerNews portal is Principal City Planner and  CEO for Racial Justice & Equity for the Planning Department, Los Angeles City.


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