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Canada-Eritrea Relations

Fact Sheet - (PDF Version, 80 KB) *

Diplomatic relations and official representation

Canada established diplomatic relations with Eritrea in 1993, following its independence.  

Canada’s ambassador to Eritrea resides in Khartoum, Sudan. Canada also has an Honorary Consul in Asmara. Eritrea has an embassy located in Washington DC responsible for Canada with a consulate in Toronto.

Bilateral relations

Canada remains concerned about Eritrea’s human rights situation, particularly with regard to the respect for democracy and the rule of law, the imprisonment or ill-treatment of political opposition and journalists, and the protection of civil liberties.

In December 2009, the UN Security Council, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, adopted Resolution 1907 determining that Eritrea’s actions undermine peace and reconciliation in Somalia and that the dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Resolution 1907 demands that Eritrea immediately comply with Resolution 1862 and that all states, and in particular Eritrea, cease any support of armed opposition groups in Somalia.

Resolution 1907 (2009) also imposes sanctions against Eritrea and persons designated by a committee of the Security Council. These sanctions are legally binding upon all UN Member States pursuant to Article 25 of the Charter of the United Nations. Therefore Canada must implement them domestically. The Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolution on Eritrea (the Regulations) made under the legislative authority of the United Nations Act incorporate these sanctions into Canadian domestic law.

Persons in Canada who have dealings with Eritrea are encouraged to carefully consider the prohibition on the provision of financial assistance related to military activities contained in the Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolution on Eritrea. This may be of particular relevance to Eritrean expatriates paying national taxes to Eritrea, as payments made in support of military and similar activities, whether called dues, contributions, donations or any other term, may be prohibited under Canadian sanctions.

Furthermore, on December 5, 2011, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2023 (2011), calling upon Eritrea to “cease using threats of violence, fraud and other illicit means to collect taxes outside of Eritrea” and deciding that Member States should take measures to hold accountable the individuals perpetrating these acts. In Canada, the Criminal Code creates offences for uttering threats, fraud and other related conduct; any victims or witnesses of possible offences should report them to their local police.

Canada supports the peaceful resolution of the Eritrea-Ethiopian border dispute in accordance with the requirements of successive United Nations Security Council resolutions. Canada values a lasting peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia and recognises the 2000 Algiers Peace Agreement as the sole framework for peace between the two countries. The Algiers agreement provided for the presence of a UN peacekeeping mission in the border region (UNMEE) and the creation of the Ethiopia Eritrea Border Commission (EEBC) to demarcate the border.

Development assistance

Canada does not currently provide bilateral assistance to Eritrea. Canada does, however, provide regional funding to multilateral partners, which may provide some benefit to Eritrea. Canada has not provided any humanitarian funding for Eritrea since 2005, when the World Food Programme was forced to redirect Canadian funding to regional programming following Government of Eritrea interference in its monitoring process. Canada continues to monitor the humanitarian situation in Eritrea.

Trade

Two-way merchandise trade leapt from $2.9 million in 2010 to $375.3 million in 2012.  Canadian gold and silver imports accounted almost entirely for this increase, making Eritrea Canada’s largest source of gold in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to Natural Resources Canada, there were three Canadian mining companies operating in Eritrea in 2011, with mining assets amounting to over $401.4 million. Vancouver-based Nevsun Resources is one of the largest foreign investors in Eritrea through its Bisha mine, which became operational in 2010. The Eritrean government has a 40% stake in the project and the mine is expected to raise the Eritrean GDP by several percentage points.

While the sanctions imposed by UNSC Resolution 1907 (2009) are specifically targeted at senior government and military officials as well as the trade in arms, military and related services, the impact on the Eritrean economy may be wide-ranging given the degree to which the military and government are implicated in economic affairs. Mining projects operated by Canadian firms were not affected by the sanctions. Shortly after the passing of UNSC resolution 2023 (2011) Nevsun Resources released a statement stating that it does not foresee any direct impact on the Bisha mine operations from the provision on mining companies.

May 2014


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Date Modified:
2014-05-29