UN must apply precautionary principle of genocide response to Tigray

A grandmother lies mortally wounded by an Ethiopian drone attack on civilians in Southern Tigray in December 2021

Using euphemisms instead of the word, genocide, does not save lives or stop genocide. Instead of applying the precautionary principle of the UN Geneva Convention the delay in the official recognition of genocide directed against the people of Tigray and by Eritrea, Ethiopia, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey  follows a sad pattern previously seen in Rwanda, Darfur, and Bosnia. Rather then directly confronting the offenders with the truth of an ongoing genocide the international community is once again delaying declaration of genocide based on the false hope proven by previous catastrophic experience that using lesser terms will allow diplomacy to bring a change in behavior. Using lesser terms only empowers the genocidal power to continue deprivation and killing.

Ethnic cleansing ( a term created during the Bosnia war), population displacement, and civil war are examples of terms that are lesser then genocide and do not trigger international sanctions. A years long total blockade of Tigray has resulted in total lack of health care and food supplies while targeted attacks on civilians have together resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and continues to threaten millions in Tigray as already documented by the UN. 

Academic study of this failure to respond has been well studied by public health researchers.  Using euphemisms instead of the term genocide always resulting in more death and destruction. Because the cost of human lives has so often been catastrophic the United Nations Convention in 1948 was created to function with a Precautionary Principle which stresses early intervention to stop the killing as soon as possible. Once reasonable suspicion is raised the burden of proof is changed from those suspecting the genocide to those carrying it out under international agreement. Despite this the 20th century saw over 170 million deaths from genocide.

Author: Professor Tony Magana

Professor Tony Magana is Head of the Department of Neurosurgery, School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences at Mekelle University in Mekelle, Ethiopia. He directs a neurosurgery residency and training program as well as neuroscience research.

One thought on “UN must apply precautionary principle of genocide response to Tigray”

  1. We remain worried at the indifference of the world community particularly the world super power USA and Europeans for not taking serious measures to stop the siege of Tigray which has enabled ABIY and Isaias’s regimes to continue to genocide the people of Tigray that started 14 months ago. Abiy’s regime and his cronies have told the world that they would continue with the siege to stop any food and medicine aid to reach the people of Tigray. The regime has reiterated to stop anything going into Tigray to force Tigrayans to submission and to exterminate them in genocide. To two regimes have continued to invade the region at many fronts. They are starving the people to death by denying any access to medicine and food aid.

    >80% of hospitals in the region have not been working because they have been looted initially as supplies have been completely stopped due to the siege. As a result patients are dying due to complete absence of medical care in the region.

    Really, unless the world community doesn’t care if 7 – 8 million people of Tigray perish from this world they must not waste time to negotiate with the ruthless tyrrants of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Opening corridors to enable food aid and medicine reach to the sick and starving people of Tigray mustn’t be a necessary matter that requires permission of the two dictators. This is a matter of humanity and the UN is mandated to help humanity in a state of the matter of existential question. They have been warned of the desperate situation of Tigrayans time and again and the response from the UN body had so far been scary and worrying!!!





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