Ethiopia: AU proposes special summit on ending border disputes linked to mineral wealth

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) is planning to hold a special summit of heads of state and government to discuss how to deal  with increasing border disputes linked to natural wealth, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui said Thursday.

Addressing a ministerial conference on the roadmap towards the demarcation of all African borders, ahead of a deadline of 2017, he said borders were crucial elements of peace and stability.

According to Chergui, porous borders were a key source of instability, fuelling cross-border crimes, human trafficking and terrorism.

He appealed to all African states to pursue dialogue instead of rushing to the International Court of Justice at The Hague in order to resolve border disputes.

Currently, Kenya and Somalia are locked up in a legal dispute over the oil rich parts of the Indian ocean, which the Somali government claims is part of its territory.

Chergui said the Addis Ababa ministerial conference was holding amid growing border disputes, where natural wealth is at stake.

"The peaceful resolution of border disputes can take the form of judicial processes or diplomatic or policy. In the case of the judicial processes, every country agrees to abide by the decision of the Court," Chergui said, adding that policy and political dialogue could also be a preferred means of settling the disputes.

The AU has always declared that colonial boundaries as marked during the Berlin Conference, should remain permanent and non-negotiable.

However, to provide further assistance to countries, the AU has been implementing cross border assistance to states under the AU Border Project.

In 2015, the AU Border Project estimated that only 35% of the African borders were marked, covering some 83,000 km of border territory.

The AU itself has contributed towards the demarcation of 2,579 km of land borders and is currently working on marking 1,021 km.

Chergui said the demarcation of maritime boundaries between Comoros, Tanzania, Seychelles and Mozambique led to an end of the process done through a treaty in 2012.

"States can undertake cheaper and pragmatic approach for dealing with cross border disputes. I suggest holding a special session at the level of heads of state and government on governance of African borders to give a strong political signal to this direction," Chergui said.

Meanwhile, the AU has decried the lack of progress in ratifying the Niamey Convention on dealing with border cooperation and customs assistance across the continent.

Chergui said only two states have ratified the Convention and eight others have signed but not ratified the treaty.

-0- PANA AO/AR 6Oct2016

06 october 2016 19:11:21

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