Noting that Ethiopia and Eritrea had reached a peace settlement, the UN Security Council did not extend a one-year arms embargo on the African neighbors beyond a May 16 expiration date but warned that it would take action if conflict resumed in the region.
On May 17, 2000, the Security Council passed Resolution 1298, which banned all states from selling or supplying Ethiopia and Eritrea with arms and munitions and from providing both sides with arms-related training and assistance for one year. Under the resolution, the Security Council could reinstate the year-long arms embargo if Ethiopia and Eritrea did not stop fighting and resume peace negotiations. (See ACT, June 2000.)
The Security Council imposed the measures just days after war renewed between the two states, which had been fighting intermittently since a May 1998 border dispute. On June 18, 2000, Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed to a ceasefire and, following talks, signed a peace agreement in Algeria on December 12.
With sanctions lifted, states could renew or make new arms deals with Ethiopia and Eritrea, and several states with previous weapons contracts in the region stand to benefit from the expired embargo. According to data submitted to the 1998 UN Register of Conventional Arms, Russia has delivered heavy artillery to Ethiopia and combat aircraft to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Bulgaria and Belarus have supplied Ethiopia with battle tanks. In recent years, China, Israel, North Korea, Romania, and Ukraine have also been identified as arms suppliers to both African countries.
On May 9, the sanctions committee established under Resolution 1298 to monitor the arms embargo asked Ukraine, along with Eritrea and four other countries, to investigate reports that a Ukrainian aircraft, carrying 30 tons of rifles and ammunition allegedly en route to Eritrea, violated the embargo in April. The plane originated in the Czech Republic and was officially destined for Georgia but was seized during a refueling stop in Bulgaria after its pilot reportedly requested permission to take off for Eritrea. After the 30-day investigation period, the sanctions committee can decide whether to react.