Catholic Charity Lauds United Nations Rights Council Push to Probe Abuses in Ethiopia

Credit: CSW

The leadership of Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based human rights organization, has lauded the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for adopting a resolution that paves way for investigations into alleged abuses in the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Adopted on December 17, the UNHRC includes the establishment of an international commission of human rights experts to investigate alleged violations of international law by all parties to the conflict that is in its second year.

The resolution was adopted at a Special Session that was convened in response to the deteriorating human rights situation in Ethiopia, following a request of the Permanent Mission of Slovenia on behalf of the European Union.

In a December 17 report, CSW’s Head of Advocacy said investigations into the Ethiopian crisis had been long overdue owing to the country’s “deteriorating situation.”

“The decision to hold a special HRC session on the situation in Ethiopia was a necessary, if belated, response to a relentlessly deteriorating situation,” Dr. Khataza Gondwe said.


Dr. Gondwe added, “We welcome the establishment of the international commission as a vital step in ensuring justice and accountability for the victims of this brutal conflict.”

The resolution mandates an international commission of three human rights experts to thoroughly and impartially investigate alleged violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law committed since 4 November 2020 by all parties to the conflict.

The council was told that nine in 10 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray region now require humanitarian assistance.

According to UN News, the Government of Ethiopia delegation rejected the Council proceedings as politically motivated interference, before insisting on its “unreserved commitment” to human rights.

CSW reports that the resolution was adopted by vote, with 21 in favor, 15 against and 11 abstentions.

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The resolution requests that the commission’s mandate be immediately operationalized, for a period of one year, renewable as necessary, with its experts appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council.

The Christian human rights entity reports that the new commission will build on a recent investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

“It (the commission) will collect and preserve evidence to support accountability efforts, as well as providing technical assistance, guidance on transitional justice and a gender perspective and survivor-centred approach to its work,” CSW reports.

The Christian foundation notes that since the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region began on 4 November 2020, over 52,000 people have died, an estimated 1.7 million have been displaced internally and over 60,000 have fled the country.

The foundation likens the situation in Tigray to a genocide and warns that the human rights situation may deteriorate soon.


“There are worrying indications that atrocity crimes - war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide - may have occurred and could still be underway. These crimes include acts of sexual and gender-based violence, indiscriminate bombing, the possible use of chemical weapons, extra judicial killings, destruction of civilian infrastructure, and the looting of homes, businesses, and historical and religious sites,” CSW says in the December 17 report.

Dr. Gondwe says that the integration of a gender perspective and survivor-centred approach in the commission’s work are particularly welcome, “given the nature and severity of the violations that are underway.”

“We urge the government of Ethiopia to cooperate with the commission and ask all parties to the conflict to allow it to conduct its work without hindrance,” the CSW official says.

He adds, “To facilitate the speedy conclusion of a ceasefire, we further urge the international community to initiate a comprehensive arms embargo, and to coordinate further targeted sanctions on military and political persons and entities identified as complicit in severe violations.”


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Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.