Ethiopia called on the European Union to ‘take measures to terminate the mandate of the International Commission of Experts at the earliest session of the UN Human Rights Commission.’
Demeke Mekonnen, Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, made the call during a meeting on December 9, 2022, where he briefed Ambassadors of the EU and Member States based in Addis Ababa.
The UN Human Rights Council formed the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) in December 2021 and extended its mandate by an additional year last October. ICHREE was set up to look into human rights abuses and war crimes that happened during the two-year war in northern Ethiopia and bring the perpetrators responsible to justice.
However, the Ethiopian government has been objecting to the formation of the commission since its inception. The government also accused the commission of politicizing human rights issues. The Ethiopian government also insisted that the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which is comprised of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is already conducting the investigation.
On the other hand, ICHREE has been telling the UN Human Rights Council that the Ethiopian government wouldn’t let them collect evidence in the war zones.
After the federal government of Ethiopia and the TPLF reached a peace agreement in Pretoria last month, the European Union and US government are still insisting that accountability and compensation for the war victims be ensured. The US government also stated that Ethiopia must allow the ICHREE to reclaim AGOA status.
However, Demeke strongly opposed the move, during the latest briefing with the diplomatic community. “The commission rejected the Ethiopian government’s offer for cooperation, overstepped its mandate, and engaged in illegal activities by trying to link its work with the UN Security Council.”
Demeke also told the ambassadors that “the agreement reached in Pretoria constitutes the implementation of a transitional justice framework to pursue accountability, truth telling, healing, and reconciliation consistent with the Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE).”
He also said that the government is talking with the EHRC and the UN-OHCHR about sending a team of human rights monitors to the war-torn areas.
The EU ambassadors, on the other hand, congratulated Ethiopia on reaching an ambitious peace agreement and said they were ready to work with the Ethiopian government to make sure the agreement is carried out.
“Making peace is more difficult than making war,” verbalized the EU’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Roland Kobia, appreciating the prudent steps taken by the parties to the peace agreement signed in Pretoria and Nairobi. “With that in mind, the EU is ready to help put the agreement into action.”
Demeke Mekonnen has also outlined to the ambassadors the range of areas of opportunity for cooperation with the EU and member states in relation to peace efforts.