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Ensure Funding for UN Investigation in Ethiopia

UN Budget Committee Should Reject Ethiopian Government Efforts to Deny All Funds

Children in front of the Africa/Ayga hotel likely damaged by a direct fire weapon in Humera town, Tigray region, Ethiopia, on November 22, 2020. © 2020 Eduardo Soteras for Agence France Press

United Nations member countries should resist the Ethiopian government’s efforts at the UN General Assembly’s budget committee to deny funding for a new UN commission, which was created to investigate possible war crimes and other violations in northern Ethiopia.

In December, the UN Human Rights Council established the UN Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, but it first needs a budget and staff.

Since the outbreak of armed conflict in November 2020 in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Ethiopian authorities have rejected calls for international investigations and downplayed or denied serious abuses. Now, with the apparent backing of Russia and China, the government is attempting to kill off the commission before it gets to work by removing its budget and axing all proposed staff positions.

UN members should reject Ethiopia’s latest efforts to prevent scrutiny of its actions in northern Ethiopia and ensure that the commission has the resources and staff necessary to investigate the crimes committed by all sides. Ethiopia’s proposed defunding of the commission is expected to be put to a vote in the UN General Assembly’s Fifth Committee, which handles budgetary issues, later this week.

The conflict in northern Ethiopia has involved serious rights violations and left millions displaced. Credible reports of serious abuses continue.  

The Fifth Committee’s role is to allocate the funding needed for UN mechanisms to carry out their mandated tasks. Yet Ethiopia and its allies are attempting to use the budget negotiations as a back door to revisit and undermine decisions made by other UN bodies.

In recent years, China, Russia, and their allies have repeatedly tried to hijack budget discussions in an attempt to relitigate human rights mechanisms created by the Human Rights Council or General Assembly. States concerned about justice for victims of human rights violations in Ethiopia should push back against such efforts to curtail funding for the commission.

Governments concerned about the many victims of atrocities and other crimes in Ethiopia should get the commission up and running, fully funded, as soon as possible.

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