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Eritrea-Ethiopia Arbitration: A ‘Cure’ Based on Neither Diagnosis nor Prognosis

SY Tesfay


The Eritrea-Ethiopia peace process remains stalled a decade after the arbitral award by the Boundary Commission and several years after awards by the Claims Commission. This article assesses why arbitration by the two
commissions did not produce the desired outcome. To this end, the author analyzes primary and secondary sources and argues that arbitration was not the right method of conflict resolution. Mayer’s multi-dimensional approach to conflict and conflict resolution informs the discussion that the conflict between the two countries has cognitive, emotional and behavioral dimensions. It is argued that arbitration as a settlement of dispute by purely legal means is ineffective to adequately address the multiple dimensions of the conflict. The author underscores that such conflicts can only be resolved by using a combination of different interventions. Specifically, while arbitration may be appropriate to deal with some essentially resource related matters, the resolution of emotional and cognitive dimensions of this conflict call for a multi-track approach in which different segments of the people from the two countries can play critical roles.

Key words: Conflict resolution, arbitration, border conflict, boundary commission, claims commission, multi-track, peace, Eritrea, Ethiopia.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2309-902X
print ISSN: 1998-9881