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Title, Control and Closure? The Experience of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission

By Malcolm Nathan Shaw


This article examines the establishment and work of the Eritrea–Ethiopia Boundary Commission with regard to its decision of 13 April 2002 concerning the delimitation of the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia and subsequent events. Apart from an examination of the substantive decision of the Commission in the light of the law relating to territory, the article will discuss certain unusual features of the process, including mandating the Commission both to delimit and demarcate the boundary and the involvement of third parties. The delimitation decision is significant in a number of ways, including its views as to the applicable law, treaty interpretation and the subsequent conduct of the parties in relation to title. The long-running and difficult process of demarcation is noted, together with the important role played by the UN and other international actors.Peer-reviewedPublisher Versio

Publisher: Cambridge University Press for the British Institute of International and Comparative Law
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1093/iclq
OAI identifier:

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  2. As to the process itself, one is struck by the speed with which the
  3. (2013). Comparative Law Quarterly Downloaded:
  4. Eritrean territory under the Delimitation Decision.
  5. ibid para 3 and S/PRST/2006/10. See also the reports of the UN Secretary General, eg S/2002/205; S/203/665/Add.1; S/2003/858; S/2003/1186; S/2006/1 and S/2006/140.
  6. It seems clear that the December Agreement was focused upon resolving the violent conflict which had only recently ceased. It recognized the importance
  7. (2002). paras 2, 5, and 9, adopted on 15
  8. Report of the Commission,
  9. (2005). See also Security Council Resolution 1661 (2006) which demanded that the parties comply fully with Resolution 1640
  10. (2003). See also the Presidential Statements
  11. See the preamble to the December Agreement.
  12. (2013). Sixth Report of the Commission, S/2002/977 Annex I, paras 7 and 10. Eritrea’s request for interim measures was refused, ibid. Downloaded:
  13. (1978). The Commission emphasized that re-argument of the case was not permitted and this was consistent with international judicial practice as to the limits of interpretation, citing the Chorzow Factory case,
  14. (2004). The Council also stressed that Ethiopia and Eritrea had the
  15. (2007). The parties were also called upon to cooperate fully with the Commission and to refrain from any threat or use of force against each other. UNMEE’s mandate was extended for a further six months and its personnel reduced.
  16. who argues that the Commission virtually placed title and State conduct on the same level (n 109) 595.

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