In a press conference delivered on 10 September 2021 (SG/5M/20892), Mr. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, expressed his deep concern that the world is edging towards a new abnormal – more chaotic, more insecure, more dangerous for everyone. He emphasized that global cooperation for peace, sustainable development and human rights can only be built on solidarity within countries. Presumably, no one disagrees with what Mr. Guterres stated.
The true statements of the Secretary General should have been more solid had they been clear in identifying the causes that triggered the worries. It is crystal clear that the causes for possible perpetual crisis are many and varied which, however, emanated, partially if not wholly, from within the UN leadership and the hegemonistic policies of the powerful nations. What has perplexed and perturbed the world most is the falling apart of words and deeds of the responsible bodies – the UN and its leadership.
It is disheartening to note that the UN forums, particularly the Security Council, have recently been used repeatedly to meddle in the internal affairs of Ethiopia, UN founding member and staunch supporter of the cardinal principles of the organization. The Secretary General has not advised the concerned bodies to refrain from such acts of violations of the UN Charter.
Answering questions in the press conference with regard to the Ethiopian situation, Mr. Guterres said that he had been engaged from the very beginning of the crisis; and, he had established a dialogue with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. He informed that he had sent Martin Griffiths to Tigray to speak with the leadership of the TPLF. Further, he disclosed that he had made an appeal for immediate cessation of hostilities for a lasting ceasefire; full humanitarian access to all areas impacted; and to conduct a dialogue to solve the conflict. He also expressed that he and the leader of the General Assembly had accepted a letter from the leader of the TPLF.
At face value, the statements seem to be positive of good concern. But, in view of the mandate of the Secretary General and considering his knowledge about the crisis, the Secretary General has intentionally undermined the principles and mandates of the UN. He has not uttered a word of encouragement to the Ethiopian Government to solve its domestic problems peacefully and amicably within its own sovereign rights.
Under the situation in which the Ethiopian government has declared the TPLF as a terrorist group, the Secretary General does not have the right to give recognition by sending an envoy and confirming acceptance of a letter from an illegal and terrorist group. He asserted his recognition to the terrorist organization by confirming receipt of a letter from same., As leader of this august international body, he should have understood how the TPLF had, before it was ousted some three years ago, cruelly ruled by imposing an ethnic based federalism with full control and domination of the country’s political, economic and military powers. He should have known the accusations made against the ruling party on crimes of genocide. Moreover, it is an open secret that during the last three years the terrorist group has committed heinous crimes of genocide against its own brethren and sisters of the Federal Army, innocent civilians in Mai Kadera, Kobo and in various places, horrible destructions and setting fires on homes and churches, looting the property of the poor, raping women and the assassination of children, the aged, monks and the killing of cattle and all sorts of animals, schools and health centers demolished and crops burnt in Afar and Amhara regions, the obstruction of humanitarian aid reach the needy ones and the refusal to return more than 300 trucks that transported aid items etc.. He is well aware of the forced conscription of children in armed conflict in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1261. The all-round crimes committed against their own people is, indeed, unparalleled in modern history.
It would be naïve to assume that protests were ranging in different parts of the world, including the UN Headquarters against the dictatorial regime of the TPLF for the last three decades. It would be unfair to assume that the Secretary General is not aware of the protests against the appointment of his deputy, leader of the WHO on the ground of his genocidal crimes. He knows the TPLF is designated as terrorist group by the Ethiopian Parliament. While he had expressed his concern during the same press conference that the Taliban’s success might embolden other groups in different parts of the world independently, he hesitated to think of the terrorist TPLF as one for reasons unknown. With due respect, the Secretary General seems to be the first UN official to stand for and support a terrorist organization.
Referring to the Mali crisis, he reminded journalists that when the Malian Army melted, the
French column avoided the rebels to take Bamako. But he called for the withdrawal of the Amhara and the Eritrean forces for the terrorist TPLF to have a free ride. He also wished the new government of Lebanon to bring together the different Lebanese communities and the different Lebanese political forces in order to make sure that Lebanon is able to overcome the dramatic situation it faces now. Why is he denying such wishes to the Ethiopian government?
To the dismay of any sensible person, the Secretary General has appealed to negotiate with the terrorist group. He should have made a clarion call for the international community to extend every possible support and assistance to the Ethiopian people and government to deal with the terrorist group. He eloquently expressed his worries with terrorism that many countries are not prepared to fight it. He appealed a much stronger, a much stronger unity and solidarity of countries in the fight against terrorism. These are welcome and encouraging words; but, what happens when it is for Ethiopia – words and deeds fall apart.
While he uttered verbally his support for the initiative of other entities like the African Union, he had refrained from advising Security Council members when the Renaissance Dam agenda was tabled about eight times in the Security Council even after the agenda was taken to the AU, which all were foiled by the principled stand of China, Russia, India and Kenya. It is more frustrating and ear-drum burning to hear the Secretary General saying that he thought both sides have not yet understood that there is no military solution to the conflict. Such statement is an affront to the Ethiopian people and government. It is belittling and degrading the proud people and their government by considering them as school children who do not understand his position.
History amply attests that Ethiopia is, having experienced the scourges of war in its long history, in much better position in knowing war consequences. It understands well whether or not there is a military solution to its external or internal war situations. On the other hand, if there is no military solution, the Secretary General has to instruct the UN to do away with the instruments of the UN peace and security strategies, mechanisms and peace keeping forces.
Deplorably, the UN has shown its back to Ethiopia, which has relentlessly served in various countries in support of collective security. The UN has, unabashedly, expressed its concern in support of a terrorist group. Its voice and concern not for the voiceless but for the gunners must be recorded as “historic”. It is perturbing to note its endeavours to obstruct the tripartite discussion on the Renaissance Dam issue through the AU. The whole exercise was a disrespect to the international community and an affront to the continental organization.
It is high time that the UN and its agencies be reviewed and restructured. If it were not for the few principled Security Council members of the UN, its existence would have been in jeopardy long time ago. The attempts made in the UN regarding Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam and the current situation in Tigray region and elsewhere spray poisonous elements to the very foundations of the UN. This is perilous that would bend the UN down to the fate of the League of Nations.
Today, the UN does not seem independent in its functions. Merit system seems to be alien to the UN. Some posts of the UN are filled with unprincipled loyalists. Persons opposed for criminal records and those who have had poor reputations in their respective countries are placed in important positions. Recruitment is made by order. Employment security is obtained through obedience and loyalty of host governments.
The current UN’s interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs is a reflection of its nature. Unless corrected in time, the UN will face the ill-fate of the League of Nations. The recent news of the initiative taken by 13 UN member countries, including China and Russia, opposing the interference of the US and some European countries in the internal affairs of Ethiopia is a hope for the reinvigoration of the UN to abide by the principles enshrined in its historical Charter.
It is appropriate to conclude this piece with the wise words of Emperor Haile Selassie I appealing to the League of Nations against Fascist Italy’s invasion. He said, “History will give its verdict.” Indeed, History had delivered its verdict to the League of Nations. This applies to the UN. History will give its verdict. Ethiopia does not deserve to be abandoned and betrayed at any cost. Sooner or later, truth shall prevail.
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