The tweet below has announced the approach the Eritrean government has decided to take in its relations with the region.

Yemane G. Meskel (@hawelti)
The Cabinet of Ministers reiterated the five pillars that govern regional partnership: i.e. i) respect of each other’s sovereignty; ii) articulated Framework of Common Interests; iii) Rejection of harmful extraneous agendas; iv) Conducive regional climate; & v) Sectors of Synergy

Interestingly, there are so far no details of what this involves on Eritrean government websites.

But consider each of these in turn – particularly in relation to the most important of regional questions: relations with Ethiopia.

  1. Respect for each other’s sovereignty. This goes without saying really. It is a requirement of all members of the African Union, part of its Constitutive Act.
  2. A Framework of Common Interests. Not clear what this would involve, but it might reflect point two of the Jeddah Agreement signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea on 16 September. This said: “The two countries will promote comprehensive cooperation in the political, security, defence, economic, trade, investment, cultural and social fields on the basis of complementarity and synergy.”
  3. Rejection of ‘harmful extraneous agendas‘ – presumably external aggression and interference. But since the Jeddah Agreement was the result of considerable external intervention by the Saudis, UAE and the USA – to name but a few – this issue turns on what is considered ‘harmful.’
  4. Conducive regional climate. Hard to disagree with, but vague.
  5. Sectors of Synergy. This would appear to involve the myriad of sectors – from mining to transport – in which all countries in the Horn are intimately connected.

The real question is this: what’s missing? 

There is no reference to the rights of the people of the region. The preamble of the United Nations Charter contains this promise – that all members come together: “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”

If the Horn of Africa is to really be a zone of peace and prosperity then its its these rights which the governments of the region will have to enhance and protect.

Relations cannot just be between nations: they must be between peoples, and peoples with real human rights.




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