Wednesday, August 19, 2009
An ad hoc international arbitral commission issued its final damages award on Monday in a border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea, splitting damages between the two countries for violations of international law committed by each of them during a 1998-2000 conflict between them. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission was established pursuant to Article 5 of the Agreement signed in Algiers on December 12, 2000 between the Governments of the State of Eritrea and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (the “December Agreement”) and operated under the auspices of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. The 5-member Commission was established to “decide through binding arbitration all claims for loss, damage or injury by one Government against the other” related to the 1998-2000 conflict between them that “result from violations of international humanitarian law, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, or other violations of international law,” The Commission held multiple hearings between 2001 and 2008 and issued several partial rulings dealing with issues of diplomatic immunity and treatment of prisoners of war and civilians. According to the Commission, the armed conflict between the two parties caused serious injury and damage to the people and infrastructure of these two countries. In addition to specific liability findings, the Commission awarded total monetary compensation in the amount of US$161,455,000 to Eritrea in respect of its own claims, as well as US$2,065,865 for individual claimants. The total monetary compensation awarded to Ethiopia in respect of its claims was US$174,036,520. The Commission recognized that the damages awards are probably less than what the Parties believe they are due because the Commission took into account the fact that the Parties are among the poorest on earth and the difficult economic conditions in the affected areas.