The erroneous, smear intentions behind ICHREE

The formation of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) was flawed from the gate-go and its report was dead on arrival. This is the byword to describe the mandate and work of ICHREE. For many, the beleaguered commission indeed was controversial and another political tool meant to serve the narrow interests of its creators.

For many, the so-called human rights violation investigating body was part and parcel of the unwarranted political pressure unleashed against Ethiopia under the pretext of human rights issues. The timings of its formation and termination in fact send a clear signal to the proponents and opponents of the commission and, lift the lead on the clandestine and far-fetched goals lying behind the misdeed.

In fact, the circumstances surrounding the formation of the commission said it all. Opposed by dozens of African nations with significant numbers of abstainers, the commission came into being only to serve the concealed ends of a few nations.

Above all, the terms of the commission came to a sudden halt and its work faded away following the Pretoria peace deal indicating that there were no concrete legal grounds and moral virtues to establish it. It is no exaggeration to call the whole process a sham and was of time and resources.

As a victim of external intervention, the Ethiopian government opposed the creation of the commission as it believed the measure undermined the reconciliation and peace-building efforts in the country.

It is to be recalled that Ethiopia has allowed its human rights commission and the UN rights body to conduct a joint investigation into alleged human rights violations in the northern Ethiopia conflict. And, the country also vowed to ensure accountability and bring perpetrators of war crimes before court.

 Contrary to the assertions of the EU, the formation of this commission for the Ethiopian government was overstepping its sovereignty and political intervention. It was for these very and other valid rationales that the incumbent was calling for the termination of the mandate of the commission.

From the very beginning, Ethiopia sees the ICHREE’s mandate as contradictory to the peace agreement inked in Pretoria. It argued that the commission’s work could potentially disrupt the peace and reconciliation effort unfolding in the nation.

While calling for the termination of the ICHREE’s mandate, Ethiopia was doing its level best to redress human rights concerns through internal mechanisms.

 As time went by and the situation in the country took a turn for the better, the call for the suspension of the commission only got louder. After doing much diplomatic work, the mandate of the commission was terminated.

On the heels of the termination, Ambassador Zenebe Kebede, Director General of Europe and America at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Ethiopian Press Agency (EPA) that the decision was a great diplomatic victory for Ethiopia, adding that the country made peace on its own and has been engaged in various diplomatic activities to improve its ties with the European Union, America, and all international community and partners.

The formation of the Commission, which attracted disapproval from a number of countries, has led some to view it as a product of interventionist policies and modern-day imperialists. These critics argue that there were evil intentions and actions surrounding this political instrument. Furthermore, some actors have tried to impose a decree under the UN framework, known as Item 10, following the end of the first one. “The attempt to force a new decree has received backlash, and it laid bare the smear agenda attached to the Commission.”

“Apart from requesting that the commission be terminated, diplomatic work was done in a very streamlined and intensive manner; we agreed it would terminate in September. However, some elements wanted to offer an option called ‘Item 10’ to continue with the process or replace it, but we did not accept it, explaining to them and our partners that it would not be useful for either Ethiopia or them. Since Ethiopia was committed to fully implementing accountability and is not doing this under anyone’s pressure, but rather on its own will, it was inappropriate to allow the continuation of the commission’s mandate. We were able to avoid the ‘Item 10’ option which was meant to replace the commission’s role,” Ambassador Zenebe added.

The ambassador went on saying, “The fact that the commission will not continue does not mean that the Ethiopian government does not respect human rights or is not accountable. The government is throwing its full weight behind the implementation of Transitional Justice, and is pushing for an inclusive National dialogue to make sure lasting peace is achieved.

Ambassador Zenebe further said: “The work done by foreign and internal anti-peace forces who do not like the peace, development, and progress of Ethiopia has made us pay a heavy price. Some have even tried everything they could to keep ICHREE functioning. However, the Ethiopian government was able to thwart the conspiracies through diplomatic engagements.”

The recent EU Commissioner for International Partnership, Jutta Urpilainen’s visit to Ethiopia was testimony to the improving relationship between both sides. The commissioner held discussions with various government officials during her stay. “Our relationship is in a good state as we are returning to normalization and reconciliation,” Ambassador Zenebe added.

The termination of ICHREE is a significant diplomatic victory for Ethiopia, demonstrating its capability to address internal issues independently. This sets a powerful example for East Africa and Africa as a whole, reinforcing the principle that Africans can resolve their challenges on their own. Ethiopia’s establishment of the National Dialogue Commission and Transitional Justice reflects its commitment to upholding international laws in practice, showcasing respect for sovereignty while enforcing these laws.

It is to be recalled the UN Human Rights Council formed the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) in December 2021 and extended its mandate by an additional year last October.



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