48th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Ethiopia

CD4Peace Report of the 48th Regular Session Human Rights Council

September 13, 2021: Item 2: Enhanced interactive dialogue on the oral update by the High Commissioner on the situation of human rights in the Tigray region of Ethiopia

All sources used to draft the report can be found here. Report drafted by Siran Cheng on September 14, 2021.

Composition of the HRC

Main Report

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet briefs the council on the human rights situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Fighting has continued and expanded to neighboring regions Afar and Amhara regions. This might risk offsetting conflicts over the whole Horn of Africa. Over the last months, mass detentions, killings, systematic looting, and sexual violence have continued to erode the living conditions that has forced displacement of Tigrayan civilians. Ms. Bachelet also highlights the fact that the dynamics of the conflict has changed, the violations of human rights, humanitarian and refugee law has been constant. Ms. Bachelet expresses her appreciation for the Government of Ethiopia's cooperation with the OHCHR-Ethiopia Human Rights joint investigation. This report is expected to be released on 1 November 2021. Ms. Bachelet further elaborates on the human right atrocities occurring in the Tigray region and that Tigrayan forces have also been responsible for crimes against humanity. Ms. Bachelet also accounts her meeting with the Ethiopian Attorney General last June, on their commitment to accountability for human right violations in Tigray. Ms. Bachelet urges the Government of Ethiopia to accept the recommendations of the joint investigation report. She ends her statement on the conflict in Tigray can only be found through a political process and commends the African Union's efforts in mediating in the conflict.

Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele starts his statement with reporting on that the field work of the joint investigation is done. The findings cannot be shared yet, but Mr. Bekele confirms that the human rights issues investigated include attack against civilians and civilians' objects and other protected persons and objects; unlawful or extra-judicial killings; forced displacement of people; sexual and gender-based violence; torture and other ill-treatment; arbitrary detention, abduction and enforced disappearances; and violations against refugees. Mr. Bekele urges members of the Council to wait for the final report. Mr. Bekele shares the recent development and situation affecting the human rights and humanitarian situation based on the work of his Commission. A ceasefire was declared by the Ethiopian government on June 28th, which gave hope for improving the humanitarian situation. However, less than a month later, TPLF declared preconditions in order to accept the ceasefire and launched a military offensive and hostilities escalated. The Tigray conflict has since then expanded till the Afar and Amhara regions, causing thousands of people being displaced. Mr. Bekele also want to remind Council members that the Tigray conflict is complex both culturally and historically, which needs to be understood by the international community. He ends his statement with mentioning that the people of Ethiopia have the highest stake in putting an end to the suffering of their fellow Ethiopians. Mr. Bekele urges everyone, including international actors, to reach and join in humility.

African Commission on Human and People's rights, Vice-Chairperson Hon. Mr. Rémy Ngoy Lumbu states that the violence seen in Tigray is serious and violates human rights. Mr. Lumbu states that foreign and local actors are involved in the conflict. The ACHPR adopted a Resolution in December 2020 to carry out investigations and a resolution in accordance with the Charter. Its mandate it to investigate allegations of violations of international human rights law, human rights and international humanitarian law. The results will be published by the end of this year. The ACHPR wishes to renew its vow of collaboration with all actors who are interested in this conflict, to respect the human rights of the Ethiopians and the sovereignty of Ethiopia

Attorney General of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Mr. Gedion Timothewos Hesseborn, on behalf on the Like-Minded Group, commends the measures taken by the Government of Ethiopia Human Rights Commission. This joint investigation will be out of utmost importance in ensuring justice and accountability to the serious human rights violations. Mr. Hessebon notes with concern that the reports of mass killings of civilians and other atrocities in Afar and Amhara and the use of child soldiers by the rebels will not be covered by the joint investigation. He points out that national institutions in Ethiopia needs to hold those commit these crimes accountable. Mr. Hesseborn also states that the TPLF is the aggressor and not the victim in this conflict.

European Union on behalf of European Union (EU) is concerned with the ongoing conflict in Tigray and that it is spreading to Afar and Amhara regions. EU calls for ceasefire as grave human rights violations are committed. The EU adds that the conflict is ethnically targeted. The EU calls for immediate withdrawal of Ethiopian forces as this conflict has no military resolution and can only be solved through political dialogue. The EU encourage the High Commissioner to keep the council updated.

Sweden, on behalf of Nordic and Baltic countries, welcomes the joint investigation. Sweden states that violence cannot solve this conflict and urges all parties to stop the conflict. Sweden also points out that starvation must not be used as a weapon and that all human rights need to be respected. Sweden urges all parties to allow immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to Tigray and the neighboring regions. Eritrea's role in the ongoing conflict is concerning and calls for the Eritrean Defense Forces to withdraw immediately.

United States of America, on behalf of 40 countries, underscores the importance for the report to be delivered without delay. Ethiopia is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe and serious human right atrocities. USA calls for all those responsible for the abuses to be held accountable. All involved should facilitate safe and humanitarian access to the impacted regions. USA calls for the Ethiopian Government and TPLF to end the conflict. USA also asks for the briefing the council when the findings in the joint investigation is released.

Cameroon, on behalf of the African Group, appreciates the will to take part in this dialogue. Cameroon welcomes the ongoing joint investigation and an independent investigation. Cameroon urges all parties to respect human rights and to put an end to civilian suffering as soon as possible. Cameroon calls for a unilateral ceasefire.

Ethiopia, on behalf of likeminded states, commences the High Commissioner and Ethiopian High Commissioner for sharing with the Council on the joint investigation. Ethiopia states that it will be of utmost importance for to hold accountability that what the perpetrators has committed. Ethiopia is also concerned that the recent mass killings and child killings not being covered in the joint investigation.

Liechtenstein remains concerned on the situation in Tigray and demands thorough investigation of all allegations of abusing international human law. Liechtenstein welcomes the joint investigation and it to be finished in time.

Germany aligns with the statements of the EU and is deeply concerned with the situation. Germany urges the Government of Ethiopia and TPLP to cease fire without preconditions. The joint investigation is welcomed and ask how the assessment of human right violations in other regions than Tigray.

France remains concerned as the conflicts has been ongoing for soon a year. The conflict has been receiving repeated calls from the international community to cease fire. France states that there is no military solution to the conflict. France is mobilized and the situation is closely monitored.

Greece aligns with the statements of the EU and is gravely concerned. Greece calls for full and safe humanitarian access to the region. All allegations must be investigated, and accountability is important. Greece calls on all parties to stop the conflict. Eritrea's role in the conflict is of grave concern and calls for immediate withdrawal of Eritrean troops.

Luxembourg aligns with the statements of the EU and encourage rapid conclusion of the joint investigation. Deeply worrying that the conflict has expanded to Afar and Amhara regions. Luxembourg is chocked over the violence against women and the human cost of this conflict is alarming. Luxembourg states that there is no military solution to the conflict.

Spain welcomes the oral update and is deeply concerned over the situation and the conflict expanding to other regions. Spain calls on respect of international human law and that Ethiopia allow full access to humanitarian aid.

Venezuela aligns with the Like-Minded group and welcomes the joint investigation. Venezuela supports Ethiopia to comply to international obligations.

Austria welcomes the joint investigation and it to be published as soon as possible. Austria urges the Ethiopian Government and TPLF to end fighting and negotiate without any precondition. Austria is concerned with Eritrea's troops in Tigray. All alleged violations must lead to an investigation.

Netherlands aligns with the statement of the EU. The Netherlands is concerned will the still expanding conflict and the fruitless pursuit for military expansion on the expense of civilians.

The Netherlands urges all parties to commit to ceasefire. The Netherlands also state that the joint investigation can be an important milestone in order to process justice.

United States of America calls on the joint investigation without any delay. USA strongly condemns the human rights violations and abuses in northern Ethiopia. USA is deeply concerned with the presence of the Eritrean Defense Forces in Ethiopia and calls for their immediate withdrawal. USA urges all parties to end all hostilities. USA asks how the international community can support accountability efforts to complement the investigation.

Russian Federation is closely following the complex situation in northern Ethiopia. Concerned with Ethiopian forces blocking roads in Tigray. The Russian Federation welcomes the investigation and supports the UN work to launch this discussion. Russia supports the steps done by Ethiopia.

New Zealand is deeply concerned of the human rights violations and violations against international human law. New Zealand is alarmed about the spread of the violence. New Zealand urges all parties to commit to genuine ceasefire and that there is no military solution to the conflict. New Zealand calls for the blockage to end and allow flow of humanitarian aid.

Ireland aligns with the statements of the EU and is deeply concerned and chocked of the situation. Ireland states that people will continue to die if humanitarian aid cannot arrive in the north Ethiopia regions. The joint investigation is welcomed and to be timely published.

Belgium is deeply concerned with the compelling reports of serios violations against human rights. Belgium calls for immediate cease of fire. Belgium states that negotiations can promote lasting peace.

China supports Ethiopia for its sovereignty and hopes all parties to conduct negotiations to pave way for peace. China urges the international community to support the Ethiopian Government and that sanctions will only interfere. China supports the Ethiopian people.

Italy aligns with the statement of the EU and remains deeply concerned. Calls for immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of troops of Tigray, Asmara and Afar regions. Italy calls for full respect of international human law and safe humanitarian access into the regions.

Sri Lanka opposes initiatives in this Council that do not enjoy the consent of the country concerned. Sri Lanka highlights the right of a state to defend its territorial integrity and calls on all UN Charter Members to respect the sovereignty of other states. Sri Lanka recognizes Ethiopia's right to address its own law when its territories are challenged.

UN Women welcomes the investigation and is deeply concerned with the sexual violence occurring in the conflict. The sexual violence is a barrier to peace and disproportionally affects women. UN Women urges all parties to uphold international human law.

Philippines voted against the unilateral resolution HRC47/13. The Philippines is against actions that do not enjoy the support of the concerned country and deeply regret the failure of the resolution's proponents to cooperate with the concerned country. The enhanced interactive dialogue reflects inefficiencies, and the Council should refrain from actions to seek to influence the outcome of an ongoing independent investigation.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland welcomes the investigation. The UK states that the TPLF expansion has caused more human suffering and brutal and sexual violence. Humanitarian workers has also become targets. If the situation is not improved, Ethiopia might face a humanitarian crisis the world has not seen for a long time.

Sudan welcomes the participation of the High Commission and has followed the situation in Tigray as Sudan has close historical links with the region. Sudan has opened their borders for refugees although Sudan is facing a complex economic situation. Sudan still wants to provide humanitarian assistance but urges the international community to also help.

Iran calls on promotion of human rights based on dialogue and to protect human rights.

Iran notes the oral updates by High Commissioner and welcomes the measure of taken to facilitate the joint investigation

Cuba calls for the Council to move away from double standard and politization. Cuba add that dialogue needs to be promoted based on the UN Charter and to address the situation on the ground

Eritrea expressed and responded to of allegation of rule of law. Eritrea states that it situation continues to pose the national security and it undermines sovereignty. Eritrea also states that the TPLF has used children to attack Eritrea.

(Eritrea stops speech, interrupted by the chair)

Michelle Bachelet urges that the drafts need to be done by 1 November and sincerely hopes that the government will implement it. Ms. Bachelet also calls for an intersessional briefing when the investigation is done and addressing the root causes of the conflict is key as well as a peaceful resolution.

Daniel Bekele shows appreciation for the international community welcoming the joint investigation and ensures that it will be impartiality. Mr. Bekele states that he will continue his work to hold perpetrators accountable and work for a sustainable peace in Ethiopia. He finishes with stating humility it is the most relevant and cost-effective tool to address and find a humanitarian solution.

Gideon Hesseborn states that the human right violation occurring in northern Ethiopia is caused by the TPLF. Mr. Hesseborn calls upon the international community to engage with Ethiopia in a constructive and positive manner. He also mentions action by the international community that might not understand the complexity of the conflict might constitute unwanted interferences which erodes the sovereignty of Ethiopia. This might derail the pursuit solution for the problem. Mr. Hesseborn also reject any hijacking attempts use the joint investigation as a political instrument to advance the objective of certain powers.

Rémy Ngoy Lumbu's final remarks is that he stands behind the statements of the African groups and that ACHPR will work together will other countries to find a solution to the conflict in northern Ethiopia.

Madame President Khan opens the floor for the exercise the right of reply of statements that has been made during the day.

China states that in China all minorities have the same right and the detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang is not true. Xinjiang is a happy place. China further states that Hong Kong is part of China and is therefore part of China's internal affairs and does not allow external intervention. The people of Hong Kong have enjoyed the national security law.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace