AU’s Support for Ethiopia: Ethical and Effectiveness Questions
AU’s Support for Ethiopia: Ethical and Effectiveness Questions
The African Union’s (AU) recent allocation of $1 million from the AU Peace Fund to Ethiopia marks a significant milestone as Ethiopia becomes the first AU member state to benefit from the Peace Fund since its establishment in 2023.
If used for this specific purpose, financial injection provides crucial resources to kickstart the DDR program, facilitating the demobilization of combatants, disarmament of weapons, and the successful reintegration of ex-combatants into civilian life. In general, effective reintegration of ex-combatants into society minimizes the risk of future conflict, laying the groundwork for lasting peace. Furthermore, DDR frees up resources previously allocated to military activities, enabling their redirection towards critical reconstruction and economic development initiatives.
The African Union’s Ethiopia Dilemma: A Web of Ethical and Practical Entanglements
However, African Union’s (AU) decision to extend support to Ethiopia, in particular, presents a complex conundrum, riddled with ethical and practical challenges. This intervention raises crucial questions about its potential effectiveness and the ethical considerations it entails in light of the ongoing humanitarian and human rights violations as well as Ethiopia’s failure to comply with the Pretoria Agreement.
A Humanitarian Imperative Hampered by Unfolding Atrocities:
The dire humanitarian situation in Tigray constitutes the most pressing concern. Glaring evidence points towards a famine, yet Ethiopian authorities’ persistent denial impedes critical humanitarian efforts. This obstructionism jeopardizes countless lives and leaves basic needs unmet, blatantly violating the fundamental Right to Food enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).
Furthermore, the silencing of dissent through the arbitrary arrest of artists seeking to raise funds for Tigray’s starving population as well as threats to the Tigrayan Interim Regional Administration for saying that there is famine paints a disturbing picture. Such suppression not only stifles legitimate voices and violates individuals’ right to freedom of expression and assembly (UDHR Articles 19 & 20, ICCPR Articles 19 & 21), but also exacerbates the humanitarian crisis by hindering vital resource mobilization. This also violates the Right to Life (UDHR Article 3, ICCPR Article 6), Right to Food (UDHR Article 25), and Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health (UDHR Article 25(1), ICCPR Article 12(1)).
The plight of Tigrayans extends beyond immediate humanitarian concerns. The fact that many unlawfully detained Tigrayans have not been released raises questions of unlawful detention denying them of due process and basic freedoms. This tears at the fabric of society and breeds frustration. These detentions violate fundamental human rights enshrined in the UDHR (Article 9), ICCPR (Article 9), and ACHPR (Article 6). Moreover, violations of the right to a fair trial, including the presumption of innocence, access to legal counsel, and prompt judicial review (UDHR Article 10, ICCPR Articles 14 & 15, ACHPR Articles 7 & 8), paint a bleak picture of justice denied. Additionally, infringements upon the rights to freedom of movement (UDHR Article 13, ICCPR Article 12), freedom of expression and assembly (UDHR Articles 19 & 20, ICCPR Articles 19 & 21), and freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (UDHR Article 5, ICCPR Article 7) further compound the injustices faced by Tigrayans.
Broken Promises and Fragile Trust:
Beyond the immediate humanitarian and human rights concerns, the AU’s support for Ethiopia is further complicated by the latter’s failure to honor the Pretoria Agreement, a crucial pact aimed at resolving the Tigray war.
The promised release of political prisoners remains unfulfilled, casting doubt on the Ethiopian government’s commitment to the Pretoria Agreement. True progress demands honoring pledges. Persistent roadblocks to humanitarian aid delivery (as outlined above) jeopardize millions, turning vital supplies into political pawns. Food and medicine should never be weaponized. Also, the continued occupation of Tigrayan territories blatantly disregards the spirit and letter of the Pretoria Agreement. Respecting territorial integrity is a cornerstone of lasting peace.
These loud disregards for the Pretoria Agreement erode trust and raise questions about the AU’s ability to effectively hold Ethiopia accountable. The fragile trust within the region hinges on Ethiopia’s demonstrable commitment to upholding its agreements and respecting human rights.
A Path Towards Light:
Instead of financial assistance, the AU must prioritize genuine progress:
1. Unimpeded Aid, Unconditional Relief:
The AU must press Ethiopia for immediate removal of all obstacles to humanitarian assistance. This includes ensuring free movement of food, medicine, and aid workers across all routes into Tigray. Further, the AU should demand uncensored access to assess the true extent of the humanitarian crisis and direct aid to those most in need. Finally, to prevent future disruptions, the AU should secure long-term guarantees from Ethiopia for unhindered aid access. This could involve independent monitors on the ground and clear accountability mechanisms for any violations. The AU should work with regional and international partners to amplify pressure on Ethiopia and coordinate humanitarian efforts.
2. Accountability, the Cornerstone:
The AU should also hold Ethiopia accountable for itshuman rights violations in Tigray, past and present. The AU should ensure investigations are conducted according to international human rights standards and with the involvement of independent, impartial experts. Justice must not only be served for victims but also act as a deterrent for future atrocities. The AU should press for appropriate legal proceedings and accountability measures against those responsible.
3. Seeking Truth, Shining a Light:
The AU should also support independent investigations into atrocities committed in Tigray. This ensures impartiality and avoids potential conflicts of interest within national investigations. A thorough investigation is crucial to uncover the full extent of the human rights abuses and establish an accurate record of what happened. This truth-seeking process is essential for healing and reconciliation. The findings of the investigations should be publicly released and documented, ensuring transparency and accountability. This can also help prevent historical revisionism and promote truth-telling within Tigray.
In conclusion, although DDR funding is generally advantageous, AU’s decision to support Ethiopia presents a complex moral and practical dilemma. By carefully considering the ethical and practical challenges outlined above, the AU can navigate this precarious path, prioritizing human rights and accountability while striving for a peaceful resolution to the war. However, until the Ethiopian government demonstrates a concrete commitment to human rights and to upholding the Pretoria Agreement, the AU should withhold further financial support. Unconditional assistance risks empowering a regime that continues to inflict immense suffering. Choosing true progress over fleeting comfort paves the way for a better future.