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Peace and security in Africa - Security Council…

8 November 2021

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Peace and security in Africa - Security Council, 8898th Meeting

Production Date: 
08 Nov 2021

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02:07:29

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Summary: 
Voicing support for African Union’s peace efforts in Ethiopia, Security Council speakers urge political dialogue between parties to prevent disaster.
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Country Representative Insists ‘We Honour and Respect’ Call for Dialogue; Says Criminal Group Refuses to Let Go of Ill‑Gained Privilege

Meeting today to discuss urgent action to de-escalate the potentially disastrous conflict in Ethiopia, speakers in the Security Council extended their support for the African Union’s regional peace initiative and urged the Ethiopian authorities and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and its allied forces to enter a ceasefire, allow for unhindered humanitarian access and engage dialogue towards a political solution.

“The window of opportunity is very little and the time is short for any intervention,” said Olusegun Obasanjo, African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa region, as he briefed the 15‑member organ on his efforts to secure support for peace from the international community and world leaders, as well as his efforts to bring the warring parties to the negotiation table.

With a focus to initiate meaningful discussions between those parties, de‑escalate tensions and pave the way for dialogue and an amicable solution to the conflict, he highlighted a 4 November meeting with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, as well as a recent visit to meet leaders in the Tigray region. All leaders are aware that their individual differences are political and, as such, require a political solution through dialogue, he stressed.

He then urged the Council to press the federal Government and the Front to engage in political dialogue without preconditions and to call for an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire. Further, the Council must call for unhindered humanitarian access in the region, and for the immediate commencement of all‑inclusive international dialogue and reconciliation, he said, asking the international community to rally behind the African Union‑led peacemaking efforts.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under‑Secretary‑General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, also briefed the Council, stating: “In a country of over 110 million people, over 90 different ethnic groups and 80 languages, no one can predict what continued fighting and insecurity will bring.” The risk of Ethiopia descending into a widening civil war was becoming only too real, she added, citing the joint report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which shed a light on the horrific suffering civilians endured.

The recently concluded elections in Ethiopia, she emphasized, demonstrated the people’s commitment to the democratic process. Prime Minister Abiy spoke of his Government’s commitment to resolve the ongoing challenges and his intention to launch a national dialogue. The urgency for such an inclusive initiative has never been greater, she said, urging Ethiopians to come together to build a shared, prosperous future before it is too late.

Council members broadly supported mediation efforts by the African Union and called on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front to freeze the position of its forces and withdraw to pre‑conflict positions. Several speakers called for credible investigations into crimes committed by all parties, including extrajudicial killings and sexual violence cited in the joint report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission. Other members expressed grave concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation, calling for removal of aid blockades by the Ethiopian authorities.

“We remained silent for far too long,” said Ireland’s representative, stating that the Council had the power to deliver change but stood idle as the crisis intensified over the past year. She then underlined the vital role played by regional leaders such as High Representative Obasanjo, as well as regional organizations, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, in finding a solution.

Norway’s delegate called on the Tigray Defence Forces, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and forces from the Oromia Liberation Army not to attempt an attack on Addis Ababa. She also urged the federal Government to refrain from imposing any measures or restrictions upon civilians of specific ethnicities, including Tigray and Oromo.

Viet Nam’s representative said the sharp escalation of military operations in the last few weeks has plunged Ethiopia and the region into more serious instability, “risking the parties to a point of no return”. On the dire humanitarian situation in Tigray, Amhara and Afar, he called for the creation of favourable conditions for aid access, full observation of international humanitarian law, rapid restoration of public services and upscaling of assistance.

The United Kingdom’s delegate cautioned that a state of emergency introduced by the Government must not be used as an excuse to ignore human rights and international humanitarian law. All parties should implement the recommendations contained in the joint investigative report by the human rights bodies.

However, Ethiopia’s representative declared: “We honour and respect the call for political dialogue.” Despite deep‑seated political differences and grievances in Ethiopia’s nascent democracy, no political group has raised arms or waged war. Diversity was not Ethiopia’s problem. Rather, the problem was a criminal group that refused to accept equality and let go of ill‑gained supremacy and privilege. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front was emboldened, threatening to unseat the Government and destabilize a nation of 112 million people, he warned.

He called on the Front’s supporters to desist from providing the group with communications equipment, satellite information, weapons and fighters. For its part, the Government has repeatedly expressed its readiness for national political dialogue, entertained offers of support and accepted the African Union’s High Representative for the Horn of Africa. The regional solution is best placed to support Ethiopia, he stressed, adding that the route to dialogue and a political solution will not be straightforward or easy.

Also speaking today were representatives of Tunisia (also for Kenya, Niger and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), China, France, India, Estonia, United States, Russian Federation and Mexico.

The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 4:41 p.m.

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