Eritrea - EP 1

Duration: 23-Dec-2009 to 05-Dec-2011

On 23 December 2009, UN Security Council adopted UNSCR 1907, authorizing a travel ban, an asset freeze, and a targeted arms imports embargo on designated individuals and entities, as well as a complete imports and exports arms embargo to and from Eritrea. The resolution also called for inspection of all cargo to and from Somalia and Eritrea, in case of reasonable grounds for violations of the Somalia or Eritrea arms embargo provisions.

The sanctions designation criteria included violating the arms embargo, providing support to armed opposition groups aiming to destabilize the region, enabling violence or terrorism against states or citizens in the region, and obstructing the implementation of UNSCR 1862 (2009), which called on Eritrea to withdraw its forces from Djibouti, acknowledge the border dispute with Djibouti, and abide by its international obligations as a member of the UN. The Security Council in UNSCR 1907 also explicitly called on Eritrea to support the Djibouti Peace Process and the reconciliation efforts in Somalia, and demanded that Eritrea cease all efforts to destabilize or overthrow the TFG, cease arming, training and equipping armed groups, including Al-Shabaab, and stop facilitating travel or providing financial support to individuals and entities subject to UN sanctions. The resolution also demanded that Eritrea makes available information about Djiboutian combatants missing in action since the clashes of 10 to 12 June 2008.

The secondary sanctions on Eritrea, imposed primarily for its role in the Somali conflict, were adopted within the existing framework of the Somali sanctions regime. Rather than creating a separate sanctions regime, UNSCR 1907 expanded the mandate of the Somalia Sanctions Committee and the Monitoring Group on Somalia to include also the sanctions imposed on Eritrea.

On 6 June 2010, Eritrea and Djibouti signed a Qatar-mediated agreement to settle their border dispute peacefully. Eritrea subsequently withdrew its forces from the disputed border area. The agreement provided for a “final and binding” demarcation of the border by a Committee composed of representatives of Djibouti, Eritrea and Qatar, as well as an exchange of prisoners of war. Qatar deployed peacekeepers to the border to monitor the situation until a final agreement between the two countries could be reached.

The June 2011 report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea described Eritrea’s involvement in Somalia as “small but troubling,” but highlighted that Eritrea committed multiple violations of UNSCR 1844 (Somalia) and UNSCR 1907 (Eritrea), including by providing support for armed groups throughout the region (including financing Al-Shabaab in Somalia) and directing a failed bomb attack to disrupt the January 2011 AU Summit in Addis Ababa. Overall, although the financial and military assistance provided by Eritrea had not stopped, it declined during the episode.

Despite the authorization of secondary sanctions on Eritrea, all designations during the episode remained focused on Somali targets. For more information on the developments in Somalia, see Episode 3 of the Somalia sanctions regime.


Coerce Eritrea to cease efforts to destabilize or overthrow the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia and withdraw its forces from territory disputed with Djibouti as outlined in UNSCR 1862 (2009).


Constrain Eritrea from providing support to armed groups (including Al-Shabaab) engaged in undermining regional stability and peace and reconciliation in Somalia.


Signal support for the Djibouti Peace Process on Somalia and disapproval of Eritrean support of Al-Shabaab and of its wider interference in the region.


Secondary sanctions on Eritrea for its violations of UN sanctions on Somalia:

  • Arms imports (government forces) and exports embargo on Eritrea;
  • Travel ban, asset freeze, and targeted arms imports embargo (on designated individuals/entities).

For the UN sanctions on Somalia during this episode, please see Somalia EP3.

No individual targets specified.

Potential scope of impact


UN sanctions can have some non-discriminating impact on the general population, since they include arms embargoes, diplomatic sanctions, and/or restrictions on the conduct of particular activities or the export of specific commodities.

Sanctions Committee and Monitoring Group in place (shared with Somalia). Designation criteria were specified but targets were not designated (no individual targets were specified). Enforcement authorities not specified.



Policy outcome

In June 2010, Eritrea withdrew troops from the border with Djibouti and agreed to a mediation by Qatar (an agreement was signed, but the dispute continued). While Eritrea continued to refuse to recognize the TFG, it scaled down its support for armed groups challenging the government and participated in the Istanbul Conference on Somalia, held within the framework of the Djibouti Peace Process, in May 2010.

Sanctions contribution

There is evidence that a portion of the Eritrean air force was grounded due to the sanctions, but there was also strong diplomatic pressure from IGAD and mediation efforts by Qatar. also played a role in the outcome.



Policy outcome

Eritrea continued to provide political and financial support to armed groups in the region during the episode, including Al-Shabaab, but its support decreased over time and its military assistance scaled down. The Monitoring Group found no new evidence of direct support to Al-Shabaab from Eritrea between July 2011 and the end of the episode.

Sanctions contribution

Imposition of sanctions on Eritrea over its interference in Somalia and the reports of the Monitoring Group contributed to a decrease in Eritrea’s support for Al-Shabaab and other armed groups in the region. However, diplomatic pressure (including from IGAD) and Eritrea’s fall-out with a faction of the leadership of Al-Shabaab also played a role in the outcome.



Policy outcome

Secondary sanctions were unusual but sent a strong signal. Eritrea denied that it was interfering in the conflict, but it was widely recognized as heavily involved and its support decreased throughout the episode.

Sanctions contribution

Secondary sanctions sent a strong stigmatizing signal, and the UNSCR was unusually explicit in its condemnation of Eritrea’s role. Diplomatic pressure on Eritrea from IGAD was also important.



No unintended consequences of sanctions observed.



  • Imposes secondary sanctions on Eritrea – arms imports and exports embargo.
  • Authorizes MS to seize and dispose of items prohibited under arms embargo on Eritrea upon discovery.
  • Imposes travel ban and specifies humanitarian, religious, peace and stability in the region exemptions.
  • Imposes targeted arms imports embargo on designated individuals and entities, including related investment, brokering or other financial services.
  • Imposes financial asset freeze and specifies exemptions for necessary basic expenses, extraordinary expenses, and expenses subject of a judicial, administrative or arbitral lien or judgment (pending Committee approval).
  • Delineates criteria for designations (including Eritrean political and military leadership).
  • Calls for MS inspection of all cargo to and from Somalia and Eritrea, if reasonable grounds for sanctions violation.


  • Modifies Somalia Monitoring Group mandate (to cover also the secondary sanctions on Eritrea) and expands its size.
  • Modifies Somalia Sanctions Committee mandate (to cover also the secondary sanctions on Eritrea).
  • Requires MS reporting following discovery of any items prohibited under arms embargo on Eritrea.
  • Calls for MS reporting.



  • Re-establishes Monitoring Group (1 year) and specifies its mandate.



  • Modifies Sanctions Committee mandate.
  • Re-establishes Monitoring Group (1 year) and specifies its mandate.
  • Specifies listing procedure.
  • Specifies delisting procedure.
  • Sets sanctions review (1 year).
  • Requires MS reporting.