Security Council to Consider New Sanctions Targeting Eritrea Mining Industry

UN (in)Security Council convened to discuss new round of sanctions on Eritrea


The UN [in]Security Council will begin Tuesday discussing a draft resolution on imposing new sanctions on Eritrea for what a UN report describes as destabilizing actions in East Africa.

Neighbor and long-time rival Ethiopia has sought reinforced international sanctions since a UN panel in July said Eritrea was behind a plot to stage bomb attacks on an African Union summit in Addis Ababa in January.

The additional sanctions being considered included targeted measures against investment in the country’s mining industry as well as further asset freezes and travel bans on the Eritrean leadership.

The United States threw its weight behind Ethiopia’s call for new sanctions in August after the UN group that monitors sanctions said Eritrea was behind the bombing plot. 

The UN experts also said Eritrea was arming and supporting insurgent groups in Somalia, including the Al-Qaeda-linked Shebaab.

The Security Council imposed in December 2009 an arms embargo, travel restrictions and asset freeze on top Eritrean political and military leaders because of alleged support for the Islamist Shebab militants.

Eritrea has, however, accused its neighbor of staging a “frenzied campaign” for sanctions and says any measures enforced by the UN would hurt the Eritrean people most of all.

A six-nation East African regional group, the Inter-Government Authority on Development, has called for sanctions against mining interests and banning a government tax on remittances sent back by Eritreans living abroad.

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By Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press),

UNITED NATIONS, October 14 — For days as the Eritrean Permanent Representative Araya Desta has been checking and re-checking the Security Council, Gabon’s Permanent Representative Nelson Messone has been speaking to other member’s ambassadors one by one.

When Inner City Press asked Messone what project he was working on, Messone laughed it off.

Desta meanwhile said that the next step would be Eritrea’s submission of its “comprehensive response” to charges that it, among other things, planned to bomb the Africa Union summit in Addis Ababa. “We will never give in,” Desta told Inner City Press.

On Friday morning outside the so-called “horizon briefing” of the Council by the UN Department of Political Affairs, sources told Inner City Press that the topics in the closed meeting included Somalia, Madagascar and “sanctions.”

Then Inner City Press heard that Gabon would be circulating a draft resolution for new sanctions on Eritrea.

Then one source then another said that new Eritrea sanctions were mentioned in the consultations Friday morning.  Diplomats from Eritrea’s neighbors came down to the stakeout.

Update of 12:50 pm — As the Security Council meeting broke up, it was confirmed that Gabon is circulating the draft Eritrea sanctions resolution, and that South Africa is not a co-sponsor. Inner City Press asked US Ambassador Jeffrey De Laurentis if the US is a co-sponsor of the resolution. “Nothing for you today,” he said.

Subsequently another Permanent Five member’s representative told Inner City Press that confidentiality was a major topic in the consultations – although not mostly directed at the topic of Eritrea.