Ethiopian defiance of international investigation of human rights violations in the Ethiopia Tigray conflict reflects their fear of the discovery of the extent of atrocity as well as lack of commitment to UN membership. The deteriorating relationship between democratic members of the UN with the Ethiopian government persists with attempts to block objective investigation into human rights violations in Ethiopia and Tigray. This week the UN General Assembly’s budget committees strongly voted against cutting the funding of the approved commission to investigate human rights violations by all parties in the Ethiopia Tigray conflict. Ethiopian diplomat Lemlem Fiseha defiantly stated that the UN had no rights to proceed with the investigation echoing sentiments reminiscent of the Derg defiance of the UN in the past.
Membership in the UN has benefits but it also has responsibilities. Whereas so many of Abiy Ahmed’s supporters in the diaspora and Amhara regions claim a “Christian” manifest destiny to their actions they overlook the writings of Saint Paul in 2 Thessalonians that calls for members to actively work in building a community and not just be passive members receiving the rewards. Similarly according to the United Nations Charter “all Members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present Charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action“.
Ethiopia has been one of the main beneficiaries of United Nations programs for aid and development over the past seventy-seven years aid since joining on November 13, 1945. The Western Democracies have contributed hundreds of million dollars to the UN which ultimately benefited Ethiopia as well as directly to Ethiopia for decades. Ethiopia in recent times has received the highest amount of aid from the United States of any African country.
Although Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is recognized for wanting Ethiopian involvement in the UN and African Union while at the same time his lack of attention to the overall national economic development caused persistent poverty and famine leading to revolution. The Soviet backed despotic Derg government which replaced the monarchy murdered and starved more than a million civilians. Democratic reforms were quashed, the economy wrecked, and a strong alignment with Russia evolved with a rejection of UN and Western democracy concerns for human rights violations based upon the principle of national sovereignty overriding any claims.
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front which replaced the Derg and was removed from national power when Abiy Ahmed was appointed Prime Minister in 2018 worked to develop security forces with the UN and African Union to stop the spread of violence form Islamic radical groups. Now Abiy Ahmed has reduced the Ethiopian role in this important international security cooperative effort.
The previous EPRDF government worked with many international non-governmental organizations, UN related agencies, and foreign ministries to build infrastructure, educational, medical, agricultural, and other capacities. Meanwhile the current Ethiopian government has now made it routine to accuse organizations like the Red Cross, World Food Program, and others of nefariously fomenting war.
At this moment no source of funding, i.e. China, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, has agreed to refinance the estimated over $70 billion debt of Ethiopia. Families cannot afford to buy the staples of life including food, fuel, and medicines because of rapidly rising inflation which may reach 50% soon for the year. Like the Derg the Ethiopian government wants to accept no responsibility to be in the world community of nations.