Human Rights Council Decides to Establish an International Commission of Human Rights Experts to Investigate Allegations of Violations in Ethiopia
The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its special session on Ethiopia after deciding to establish an international commission of human rights experts to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of violations and abuses committed in Ethiopia since 3 November 2020 by all parties to the conflict.
In the resolution on the situation of human rights in Ethiopia, adopted by a vote of 21 in favour, 15 against and 11 abstentions, the Council condemned in the strongest terms all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law and international refugee law committed in northern Ethiopia by all parties. It decided to establish for a period of one year, renewable as necessary, an international commission of human rights experts on Ethiopia, made up of three human rights experts to be appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council, to complement the work undertaken by the Joint Investigative Team.
The mandate of the commission of experts was to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of violations and abuses committed in Ethiopia since 3 November 2020 by all parties to the conflict; to establish the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged violations and abuses, to collect and preserve evidence, to identify those responsible, where possible, and to make such information accessible and usable in support of ongoing and future accountability efforts; to provide guidance on transitional justice, including accountability, reconciliation and healing; and to integrate a gender perspective and a survivor-centred approach throughout its work, among others.
The Council called for an immediate halt to all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law and international refugee law and for the strict observance of all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Noting the first steps taken by the Government of Ethiopia to implement the recommendations made by the Office of the High Commissioner and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission in the report on the joint investigation, the Council encouraged the Government to proceed without delay to ensure accountability and redress for the victims of the violations and abuses committed in the conflict.
The resolution was adopted at the end of a one-day special session of the Human Rights Council on “the grave human rights situation in Ethiopia”. The summary of the first meeting can be found here.
Ethiopia, speaking as the country concerned, said the accusations levelled against it were unfounded. Ethiopia reminded those who had taken the floor that the joint investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission had not found evidence supporting the claim of deliberate denial of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in Tigray, or the use of starvation as a weapon of war. Polemics would only exacerbate the situation on the ground. There were no merits in the politically motivated draft resolution. Ethiopia was firmly committed to peace and human rights.
Eritrea, Russian Federation, Venezuela, China, and Philippines spoke in explanation of vote before the vote.
The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s thirty-third special session can be found here.
The result of the votes was as follows:
In favour (21): Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Poland, Republic of Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Uruguay.
Against (15): Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Eritrea, Russian Federation, Gabon, India, Namibia, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia and Venezuela.
Abstention (11): Bahrain, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Libya, Malawi, Mauritania, Nepal, Senegal, Sudan, Togo and Uzbekistan.
The forty-ninth regular session of the Human Rights Council is scheduled to be held from 28 February to 1 April 2022.
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