54th Human Rights Council Reports

Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Human Rights on Ethiopia

Report on the Human Rights Council 54th Session

11 September 2023 – 13 October 2023

Meeting Date: 21 September 2023


Interactive Dialogue with the Commission of Human Rights on Ethiopia

Report from the Commission:

The Commission reasserted that it followed the principles of its mandate and ensured that Ethiopia was a full and present participant in the evaluation process. The goal of this process was to measure the progress of the current conflict and the establishment and the integration of peacebuilding methods. The Commission then:

  • Condemned the deterioration of human rights conditions within Ethiopia,

  • Reported that the national conflict has sparked wide-spread atrocities that include;

    • Sexual violence against women and girls,

    • Forced migration and displacement of communities, and

    • Increased activity in areas of human trafficking,

  • Stated that Ethiopia's legal framework is failing to support accountability mechanisms,

  • Emphasized the threat to future societal stability with the continuation of hostilities perpetuated by militia groups,

  • Informed the Council that the proposed transitional justice mechanism is inadequate as it does not consider all aspects of the TJ process,

  • Requested Ethiopia to reconsider the mandate's extension as the chances of future atrocities are still present, and

  • Recommended the continuation of international investigations, public reports, along with the establishment of measurable benchmarks and host country (Ethiopia) check-ins.

Ethiopia was given adequate time to respond to the Commission and:

  • Insisted that the government has since redoubled peace efforts, specifically using mechanisms that assure accountability opportunities,

  • Accused the Commission of hidden biases due to contradictory information found by other investigative organizations (African Union and other regional mechanisms),

  • Suggested that the Commission's evidence was collected and presented in ways not fitting international standards,

  • Justified the proposed national transitional justice approach on sustainability reasons,

  • Highlighted the inclusion of women's rights groups and experts,

  • Indicated the use of monitoring mechanisms within affected regions and communities were meeting standards set by all actors (international, regional, and domestic), and

  • Agreed upon the importance of allowing human rights groups full and unrestricted access to affected areas.

The National Human Rights Council of Ethiopia provided its own report in which it:

  • Revealed time keeping and data collection errors committed by the Commission,

  • Insisted on the need for cooperation and collaboration from all interested parties,

  • Reminded participants that the national transitional justice mechanism would be monitored heavily by regional and domestic human rights groups,

  • Expressed concern over the increase of food insecurity and human rights violations in affected areas, and

  • Acknowledged a need for international assistance on an invitation only basis.

Country Alignments:

  • Countries aligned with the Commission include those who expressed concern regarding the conflicting reports, those who indicated that the proposed transitional justice mechanism is not up to international standards, and those who suggested extending the Commission's mandate in order to ensure continued monitoring of the human rights situation. They are as follows:

    • Lativia, European Union (joint statement), Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, United States of America, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Australia, United Kingdom, Spain, Greece, Canada, and Ireland.

  • Countries aligned with the Ethiopia report include those who suggested that the mandate has outlived its life and should be removed, those who supported the national transitional justice mechanism as it is on the underlying factor that it is an obstacle for the national government to address, and those who expressed concern for over-complication of goals due to over-investment by foreign states. They are as follows:

    • Cote d'Ivoire, China, Russia, Cuba, Uganda, Niger, Sudan, Iran, and Eritrea.

NGOs were given adequate interaction time, and many aligned themselves with the Commission and:

  • Expressed growing concern at the access to medical care following sexual violence,

  • Suggested the transitional justice mechanism would not be viewed as credible by the domestic population,

  • Reported that ethnic cleansing is clearly defined in the actions being committed by militia groups, that include;

    • Participation in human trafficking activities,

    • Suspicions of sterilization methods, and

    • Use of starvation as a war tactic,

  • Highlighted the importance of independent investigations and mechanisms,

  • Described the destruction and obstruction of digital infrastructure as a method of continuing violence, and

  • Recommended the implementation of fact-finding missions to determine the extent of rights violations.

Our Analysis:

The current human rights situation in Ethiopia threatens the ability of the state to fully achieve its peacebuilding goals. The proposed transitional justice mechanism would be an admirable and conducive response to reestablishing peace within the country, however, there seems to be a significant lack of support both within the country and from international observers for the mechanism. The interference from the international community is viewed as unwarranted and the request has been issued that said interference only come when Ethiopia (or countries in similar positions) request it. The overall evaluation shows a potential for progression back to peace, but the threat from national and regional forces still remains as an obstacle. All parties involved in the discussion insisted that any and all peacebuilding mechanisms established will reflect the standards set by previous mechanisms as well as global standards.

Author: Eileen Vis

Uploaded: October 19th 2023


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace