Taye Berhanu /PhD
Since the onslaughts of the TPLF, which is declared terrorist organization by the Ethiopian Parliament, on the Ethiopian Armed Forces stationed in the northern region of the country, Tigray, the UN and its humanitarian organizations, the Western powers and international media outlets have forged their coordinated conspiracies on Ethiopia by meddling in its internal affairs. They have been unprecedentedly preoccupied with the Ethiopian situation. The Renaissance Dam, the civil war and humanitarian aid issues have shadowed other significant and grave global issues.
The uninterrupted interference in Ethiopia’s internal affairs, despite strong oppositions from the Ethiopian government and people, UN Security Council members, particularly China, Russia, and others, is menacing the trend of the much-acclaimed globalization process. The global process, which has augured new hope for enhanced interdependence, harmony, cooperation, fair and free trade and commerce, is being frustrated by inauspicious positions of some quarters. The forces which are entrusted with greater responsibilities for promoting democracy, defending human rights, fostering international cooperation and leading the fight against international terrorism and poverty, for climate change, prosperity, peace and security are prone to stir obnoxious activities. They have charted dangerous zig-zag roads that could revive the abhorrent Cold War situation by, among others, exacerbating the appalling Ethiopian situation.
The principles of the UN underscore, inter alia, the equality of members – small or big, weak or strong, developed or developing. But, unfortunately, the drivers of the organization and few members are posed in flagrant violation of the international norms and UN’s cardinal principles. They have opted for free drive to degrade and destabilize a founding member state, Ethiopia, by siding with terrorist organizations.
Recently, the US, one or two other UN Security Council members, UN Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guterres and the UNICEF chief have expressed strong condemnations on Ethiopia’s decision to expel seven UN staff members for meddling in its internal affairs. Following the announcement of the decision of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the expulsion order of the UN staff within 72 hours, the UN Secretary General immediately expressed his shock.
The Ethiopian government had earlier accused aid agencies like Norwegian Refugees Council and Medicine Sans Frontiers’ for disseminating misinformation and for provisions of armaments to TPLF. A photo revealing TPLF’s spokesperson using a satellite phone belonging to a WFP staffer standing by his side was on social media. The Ethiopian government and concerned individuals had voiced their deep concerns against their acts of manipulating data and misrepresenting facts about human crisis with the purpose to internationalize the crisis for any eventual UN Security Council’s decision against the Ethiopian government.
Against this background, the shock of Mr. Guterres and UNICEF’s Chief’s has vibrated more shocks not only from Ethiopians but, presumably, from all peace-loving and democratic forces the world over. There are ample reasons for this. First, the UN chiefs were not shocked at the genocidal crimes committed in Mai Kadri, brutal attacks made against the national army, the assassinations and displacements of thousands of innocent civilians in different parts of the country, the destruction of property, homes and churches, the missile attacks at Bahir Dar, Gondar and Asmara – all glaring and insidious crimes committed by TPLF. Which one is shocking – declaration of persona non grata or genocidal crimes and all sorts of inhuman deeds?
The decision of the Ethiopian government was expected, albeit delayed, in view of the UN staff’s non-neutrality, interference and odd activities incompatible to their missions. It would have been proper if the UN chief had taken the event seriously to commence serious investigation on the matter as his predecessors endeavored to restructure and get rid of corruption practices in the UN.
Secondly, it is the sovereign right of receiving states to welcome or unwelcome, to accept or reject any foreign visitor, dignitary, envoy or employee to its territory that consider unlawful or a threat for their national interests. This right is supported by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations Article 9 which stipulates the provisions for declaration of persona non grata.
Article 9/1 reads as follows: “the receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is persona non grata or that any other member of the staff of the mission is not acceptable. In any such case, the sending State shall, as appropriate, either recall the person concerned or terminate his functions with the mission. A person may be declared non grata or not acceptable before arriving in the territory of the receiving State.
Apparently, Ethiopia’s decision to expel the UN staff is in line with the stated convention. It is not as alleged by some violation of international laws. Alarmingly, countries that have exercised their sovereign rights or reciprocated persona non grata measures have joined the shock and condemnation of the Secretary General.
Thirdly, the declaration of persona non grata is not a queer event. It has been practiced for so many years without much hues and cries. From 1990s to mid-2021, 477 persons have been declared personae non grate. Those declared persona non grata includes 8 from UN including former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, 22 ambassadors, 246 diplomats, heads of state and government, ministers, activists, journalists, singers and others.
Regrettably, the UN Secretary General, so as did the UNICEF chief, expressed his full confidence in the teams working abiding by the principles of impartiality, humanity, neutrality and independence. This is a blatant refusal of the decision of the government. This is, in other words, tantamount to degrading a member State, that has given votes for his post. Mr. Guterres told journalists at the end of the Security Council meeting that it was his duty to defend the honor of the UN. His sense of ownership of the UN is appreciable. But he cannot be more defender than the member, right owner and founder of the UN, Ethiopia. Although Ethiopia is not a king maker at the UN today, he has benefited its vote for the post. It is unfair to think or act beyond the mandate or limit. A sovereign state has to be respected.
Further, it is disheartening to hear from the highly respected UN Secretary General and others alleging Ethiopia violating the UN principles by its decision of persona non grata. While the expulsion order targeted the UN personnel, whatever their posts could be, the attempt was surprisingly as if it was done against the UN. Casting such fallacy accusations cannot, however, tear apart the strong bonds of the UN and Ethiopia. Ethiopia, as a founding member and staunch supporter of the ideals, lofty objectives and principles of the UN, continues to stand in the forefront in the service of collective interest. Failing to distinguish individuals from organizations is politically erroneous. It must be abundantly clear that no one is above the law. This is universally accepted well flagged as an important component of international norms.
All the sordid conspiracies haunting Ethiopia could imperil harmonious international relations and retard the globalizations process. Obviously, the repeated attacks on Ethiopia are ostensibly entry points geared against Africa in a futile attempt to destabilize and bring it back to colonial dark ages. It is high time that democratic forces, peace-loving and non-pseudo human rights defenders forge their unity to urge the UN, big powers and international media outlets to refrain from meddling in internal affairs of member states by siding terrorists and disturbing developing countries, like Ethiopia. The works of the UN shall be closely and squarely scrutinized from various angles. The quest for peace, freedom, independence, equality and prosperity in the interest of mankind shall not be obstructed.
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