The countries of Ethiopia and Eritrea ? located on the Horn of Africa – fought a two-year war beginning on May 6, 1998, and ending with a peace agreement signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on December 12, 2000. The conflict is estimated to have cost tens of thousands of lives and displaced as many as 650,000 people on both sides of the Eritrea-Ethiopia border. The peace agreement set up commissions to establish the border between the two countries (a formal border had never been set following the independence of Eritrea in 1993), exchange prisoners, return displaced people and hear claims on compensation for war damages. The claims commission was set up at the Hague. Testimonials from both sides of the conflict were submitted to the claims commission.
This study was conducted by William M. Arkin for the Legal Advisor to the Office of the President of the State of Eritrea. The analysis of Ikonos high-resolution satellite imagery supported claims from State of Eritrea submitted to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague on October 15, 2002, in a report entitled ?Ethiopia?’s Violations of International Law Arising From Its Attacks on and Occupation of the Central Zone of Eritrea.?
This use of satellite data by the State of Eritrea is one of the earliest examples of using commercially-available satellite data for tracking human rights violations. This is a notable achievement and sets important precedence in using commercial (and other satellite) networks as part of a human rights observation network.
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