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Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission, Partial Award, Civilian Claims, Eritrea’s Claims 15, 16, 23 & 27-32

Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission
44 I.L.M. 601 (2005)


Facts

In April 1993, The United Nations (UN) held a referendum where persons of Eritrean nationality could vote on whether they preferred the establishment of a new state of Eritrea out of a portion of Ethiopia. All eligible persons received an Eritrean “national identity card” which permitted them to vote. An overwhelming majority voted for establishment of an independent Eritrea. A new Eritrea was established and admitted to the UN in May 1993. However, even after establishment, approximately 60,000 Eritrean nationals who voted in the referendum continued living outside the new country’s borders in Ethiopia. Later, in 1998, war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia sought to expel from its borders those citizens who also possessed Eritrean nationality and voted for the creation of Eritrea in the 1993 referendum. Ethiopia justified expelling these citizens on the ground that they were now considered “enemy nationals” under international law. Eritrea argued that these nationals never gave up their dual Ethiopian citizenship when they voted in the Eritrean referendum, and thus that they were now being unlawfully expelled. The Eritrea Ethiopia Claims Commission considered the question of these individuals’ citizenship. It determined that the nationals in question possessed dual Eritrean and Ethiopian citizenship. The commission then considered whether Ethiopia could “denationalize” these citizens during a time of war, given their dual citizenship with an enemy State.

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