World, Africa

UN Human Rights Council to hold special session on ‘grave’ situation in Ethiopia

Session is called by EU, which says international community has 'moral obligation' to prevent 'further atrocities' in Ethiopian conflict over Tigray

Peter Kenny   | 13.12.2021
UN Human Rights Council to hold special session on ‘grave’ situation in Ethiopia File Photo


The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) this Friday will hold a special session to address "the grave human rights situation in Ethiopia" after a request by the European Union and following a warning last week from the US, the council announced.

"In light of the aggravating situation, we believe the international community has a moral obligation to try to prevent further atrocities and ensure accountability and justice for victims and survivors," Lotte Knudsen, head of the EU delegation to the UN in Geneva, said in a statement Monday.

Last Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Ethiopia is increasingly facing the prospect of an implosion that would be "disastrous" for its neighbors.

Blinken said Ethiopia's warring parties have the option to turn to negotiations and prevent all-out collapse but warned that if civil war envelops the country, the consequences for the region would be dire.

"I am very concerned about the potential for Ethiopia to implode given what we're seeing, both in Tigray, but also as we have different forces and different ethnic groups that are increasingly at odds," Blinken said at the State Department.

Meanwhile, the council said that the request on Monday was supported by 17 nations – one more than the 16 required – including Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, the Marshall Islands, South Korea, Ukraine, and the UK.

The request for the special session was also supported by 36 observer states, including Australia, Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the US.

Draft resolution

A draft resolution by the council calls on the "Government of Ethiopia to implement the state of emergency declared on Nov. 2, 2021, in a manner that respects the principles of strict necessity, proportionality, and non-discrimination, and to publish the list of detainees and guarantee the right to visits in detention centers."

It expresses "deep concern at reports about the targeting, arrests, and detention of people based upon their ethnicity, the poor detention conditions of those arrested, the allegations of ill-treatment in detention and the lack of judicial review."

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