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UN council investigate war crimes in Ethiopia

December 17, 2021

The UN's human rights body voted to set up an experts panel to examine allegations of war crimes in Ethiopia. The resolution was brought forward by the EU.

A military vehicle with the Ethiopian national flag in Kombolcha, Ethiopia
Two African nations abstained from voting — a signal of the severity of concerns of rights violationsImage: Amanuel Sileshi/AFP/Getty Images

The UN Human Rights Council on Friday voted in favor of establishing a panel of experts to report on rights violations during the year-old war in Ethiopia, despite protestations from Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia lashed out at what it called a "neocolonialist mentality" following the EU-led effort to have a special session of the UN Human Rights Council called to address war crimes that may have occurred in Ethiopia.

The resolution was brought forward to a vote by the EU. The resolution passed with 21 states in favor, 15 opposed, including Russia and China, and 11 abstentions. 

Nada al-Nashif, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, told the session Friday, "Our office continues to receive credible reports of severe human rights violations and abuses by all parties."

"The humanitarian impact of the conflict is increasingly dramatic," al-Nashif added.

What is the vote during the special session about?

The vote took place at the 47-member forum in Geneva, Switzerland. Several African nations such as Senegal and Sudan abstained from the vote, one indication of their concerns regarding abuses as they did not vote no. 

The panel of experts will probe allegations of rights violations and abuse by all parties to the conflict. 

Why is there a need for an investigation?

A report released last month that was a joint investigation between Ethiopia's Human Rights Commission and the UN's Human Rights Office was viewed as insufficient by Western observers.

At least 2 million people have been displaced by the war, with ten million facing food insecurity and possible starvation

Laetitia Bader, the Horn of Africa director at Human Rights Watch, told DW, "This is something we have been calling for for a long time."

"The gravity of the crimes necessitates a thorough investigation," she added.

ar/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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