Hague Court Rules on Damages for Ethiopia-Eritrea War – By Jason McLure (Bloomberg)

August 18th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague awarded the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea damages to settle a range of property and human rights claims stemming from the countries’ 1998-2000 border war.

In a final ruling today that ends eight years of litigation, the court ordered Eritrea to pay Ethiopia $174 million for claims including lost profit to Ethiopia’s state- owned airline, failing to protect Ethiopian civilians during the war and mistreating Ethiopian prisoners of war.

Ethiopia was ordered to pay Eritrea and some Eritrean individuals $163.5 million for damages, including destruction of Eritrean buildings, the seizing of automobiles owned by Eritreans and imprisoning Eritrean civilians under harsh conditions. Both sides were awarded damages against the other for failure to prevent the rape of women near the front.

The Ethiopia-Eritrea war erupted in 1998 after disagreements between the two governments over border and trade matters. The fighting left an estimated 70,000 people dead and displaced 750,000 from their homes. The 2000 Algiers accords ended the war without agreement on a final border. Tens of thousands of troops remain dug in along the two countries’ 912- kilometer (567-mile) frontier.

The net award to Ethiopia of about $10.5 million “is a very small amount given the gravity of the crime of aggression committed by Eritrea,” according to an e-mailed statement from Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry in the capital, Addis Ababa. Ethiopia will continue to study the ruling, the ministry said. Eritrea said it accepted the decision “without any equivocation,” according to a statement posted to the Web site of its Information Ministry.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason McLure in Addis Ababa via the Johannesburg bureau at abolleurs@bloomberg.net.

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