Queen Maxima of the Netherlands on an official visit to Ethiopia
UN Security Council holds an open debate on peacekeeping
An EU-Ethiopia Business Forum in Brussels…
Ethiopia’s improvements in Human Rights commended at the UN Periodic Review
State Minister Mrs. Hirut attended the Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development
China-Ethiopia relationship offers great possibilities for the future
News in Brief
Africa and the African Union
The 2019 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development, held under the theme: “From crisis response to peace building: Achieving synergies”, was held this week, May 14-16. Hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 400 high-level policymakers, researchers and practitioners gathered in Stockholm for the sixth annual Forum. Ethiopia’s State minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hirut Zemene attended. (See article)
The UN Security Council, unanimously adopting resolution 2469 (2019) on Tuesday (May 14), extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for another six months to November 15.
The UN Security Council held an open debate on training and capacity building for UN peacekeeping missions on Tuesday last week (May 7). Delegates discussed the need for
properly resourced missions and defined mandates. African delegates, including Ethiopia,. said the African Union should be endowed with necessary resources and called for troops undertaking AU missions to be provided with adequate training and equipment, with a view to fully silencing the guns in Africa by 2020. (See article)
The AU Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC) commended the "significant progress" made to secure peace and stability in Somalia under AMISOM on Wednesday (May 15). The Council said it had decided "to renew the mandate of AMISOM for another 12 months until May 27, 2020 to support the implementation of the Somali Transitional Plan." In a statement, it reiterated the importance of the continued presence of AMISOM in Somalia, “as well as the need for predictable and sustainable funding for the AU Mission." AMISOM adopted a new concept of operations last year to cover its activities during 2018-2021, the final phase of the transition and AMISOM’s exit from Somalia. The UN Security Council will consider extending the mandate of AMISOM next week.
The 4thUN Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals in New York was held this week (May 14-15). The theme of the Forum is “Science, Technology and Innovation for ensuring inclusiveness and equality, with a special focus on SDGs 4, 8, 10, 13, and 16". The Forum is part of the Technology Facilitation Mechanism mandated by the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. State Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Jemal Beker led the Ethiopian delegation. He told the Forum that the future of developing countries lies in technology accumulation capabilities and capacity; Ethiopia was giving great emphasis to technological transfer, human skill development, ICT and national quality infrastructure development and expanding an incubation center to host talented innovators to convert their technology ideas to products and services.
President Sahle-Work Zewde made a one day working visit to Kenya on Tuesday (May 14), and held talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi. (See article)
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrived in Addis Ababa for an official visit to Ethiopia on Tuesday (May 14) in her role as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. (See article)
The President of the World Economic Forum, Børge Brende, met with Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed on Wednesday (May 15). They signed an agreement on the Forum’s Regional Meeting on Africa in September 2020 which is to be held in Addis Ababa. Later, Mr. Brende met with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gedu Andargachew. The Minister pledged to extend all the support required for the Forum’s Africa session which is expected to be attended by over a thousand people.
Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen met President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in Kampala on Monday (May 13). Their discussions covered ways of further strengthening the ties between Ethiopia and Uganda and regional issues of mutual benefit. They agreed to further strengthen cooperation in bilateral and regional issues of common interest, making a joint commitment to spur their diplomatic relations. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke presented a "message of cooperation and partnership" from Prime Minister Dr. Abiy.
The EU-Ethiopia Business Forum was held in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday this week (May 14-15) to stimulate European private sector investment in Ethiopia by providing practical information about doing business in the country. (See article)
The Third Cycle of Ethiopia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held at the 33rd Session of the UPR Working Group in the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday (May 14) in Geneva. Ethiopia’s delegation was headed by Dr. Gedion Timothewos, Deputy Attorney General. (See article)
The meeting of the Ethio-Kenya Joint Technical Boundary Committee opened this week on Monday (May 13) in Mombasa, Kenya. The meeting was held on the basis of the directions set at the 32nd Ethio-Kenya Joint Border Administrators and Commissioners’ meeting, which was recently convened in Adama city, Ethiopia. The meeting principally focused on the implementation of the boundary treaty signed by Ethiopia and Kenya in 1970.
Organized by U.S. Department of State, the Ethiopian Partnership Forumopened in Washington, D.C. this week on Wednesday (May 15). It aimed at taking stock of Ethiopia’s bold initiatives to transform its economy by attracting private investment and create more jobs.
Dr. Gedion Timothewos, accompanied by Ambassador Zenebe Kebede, Ambassador to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other International organizations in Switzerland, met Ms. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday (May 13). Dr. Gedion emphasized improving human rights was a priority for the Government and the current reforms aimed to address the challenges of the promotion and protection of human rights and ensure their compatibility with international human rights instruments. Ms. Bachelet said she was encouraged by the positive reforms which had brought significant results and expressed the readiness of her Office to continue to support Ethiopia’s efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.
Ambassador Teshome Toga, Ethiopian Ambassador to China, told students at the University of Peking that Ethiopia and Africa’s partnership with China was unavoidable since they shared principles of equality, mutual trust and respect, mutual interest and benefit. It offered great possibilities for the future. (See article)
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday (May 13) that it had only received 14% of the US$346.5 million it requires to meet the basic nutritional, educational, health, clean water, sanitation and shelter needs of refugees in Ethiopia. It has registered 915,073 refugees as of the end of August last year in Ethiopia. Most are housed in refugee camps in six regional states. Ethiopia hosts the second largest refugee population in Africa, next to Uganda.
The President of the Supreme Court Meaza Ashenafi met with European Union Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore on Wednesday (May 15). They discussed the rule of law, human rights and the role of courts in transitional justice in Ethiopia.
The UNESCO Secretariat this week released initial emergency assistance funds for the Simien Mountains National Park at the request of the government. The Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, was recently damaged by a series of fires. The UNESCO assistance is intended to provide for the recruitment of international and local experts to assess the situation and make recommendations on future actions to protect the park.
KPR Group of India, an integrated textile manufacturing company, inaugurated a US$2.5 million plant at the Mekelle Industrial Park on Monday this week (May 13). The company made its first exports from Mekelle to Europe in January this year.
Health Minister Amina Nurhussein held talks with Dr. Hala Mustafa al-Seid, Egypt’s Minister of Health, in Asmara on Saturday last week (May 11). They agreed to bolster bilateral cooperation focussed on the exchange of best practices in the health sector. Minister Nurhussein said that the visit of Dr. Hala would make a significant contribution in strengthening existing cooperation and sharing experiences. Dr. Mustafa said that her visit was a continuation of the ongoing exchange of visits by officials of both countries.
President Mohamed Abdullahi has reiterated that the government will not accept elections delays in Somalia despite requests from some regional state for term extensions. Speaking at the 76th anniversary of Somali Youth League Anniversary ceremony on May 16, the president insisted said all federal and state elections would be held as scheduled.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Ahmed Isse Awad, took part in the annual three-day Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development, this week (May 14-16). The Forum is organized by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and this year’s theme is “From Crisis Response to Peacebuilding: Achieving Synergies”.
AMISOM and the Federal Government have agreed to intensify joint operations in the final push against Al-Shabaab. At a meeting on Monday (May 13), Ambassador Madeira, head of AMISOM and Minister of Defence Hassan Ali Mohamed, and senior officials discussed ongoing joint operations between AMISOM soldiers and the Somali National Army (SNA). Ambassador Madeira noted the progress being made by the Somalia Security Forces and said AMISOM was considering handing over some Forward Operating Bases. He reaffirmed the commitment by AMISOM to implement the Somali Transition Plan and pave the way for the African Union forces to exit. The officials also agreed to form a technical working group, led by the Chief of Defence Forces and the AMISOM Force Commander.
The IMF has said Somalia’s economic growth should rise to 3% this year, up from 2.8% last year, though it remained vulnerable to destabilizing factors including fragile security, climate change and poverty. In a review published on Tuesday (May 14) it said: “Somalia’s economy continues to recover, supported by vigorous activity in the construction, telecommunications, and financial services sector in 2018.” The government has broadened the tax base and strengthened tax administration, boosting domestic revenue almost 30% to $184 million in 2018, and to $54 million for the first quarter of 2019. The IMF forecast inflation would ease to 3% from 3.2%. Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh said this was a sign that the government’s public finance reforms were on track.
President Salva Kiir, speaking during the inaugural ceremony of the Transitional National Legislature on Tuesday this week (May 14) and noting the government will be funding the six-month pre-transitional period process, said he was confident that a newly revitalized peace deal would be quickly put in place. He said he would supervise “all the National Pre-Transitional Committee remaining critical tasks as a way to expedite the deal.” He called on the opposition groups to trust the government, continue to make compromises and push towards successful implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement.
The Transitional Military Council and the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change (DFCF), a coalition of opposition groups led by the Sudanese Professionals Association said on Monday this week (May 13) that they had reached a breakthrough agreement to set up a transitional power structure, of an 11-person sovereign council, a cabinet and a 300-person legislative body in which the DFCF would have two thirds of the seats. There would be a three-year transition period to a civilian administration.
Prosecutors this week charged former President Omar al-Bashir with involvement in killing protesters and incitement to kill protesters. He is also facing an investigation over allegations of money laundering and terror financing. The Transitional Military Council has said Mr. Bashir would face justice inside the Sudan and he would not be extradited to The Hague, where the International Criminal Court has charged him with war crimes and genocide.
President Sahle-Work’s working visit to Kenya
President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia arrived in Nairobi for a one-day official working visit on Tuesday (May 14). She was welcomed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Monica Juma, Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Meles Alem and high-ranking Kenyan government officials. At State House, President Sahle-Work was warmly received by President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and high-ranking Kenyan government officials.
Talks between President Sahle-Work and President Kenyatta Uhuru centered on bilateral and regional issues of common interest including ongoing engagements aimed at deepening diplomatic and bilateral ties. Alluding to the longstanding and historic relations between the peoples and governments of the two countries, which she characterized as demonstrating stability and consistency, President Sahle-Work reiterated the need to further expand possibilities in various areas ranging from people-to-people relations to the flow of trade and investment. She noted that their good neighbourly relations were both effective and exemplary and stressed the importance of working closely together on multilateral issues of common interest and in the maintenance of regional peace and stability.
President Kenyatta noted that Kenya accorded a special focus for the relations it has with Ethiopia. He said the two countries should work closely to take the current state of relations to a higher level on many fronts. The President hosted a luncheon for President Sahle-Work; also present were Kenya’s Cabinet Secretaries for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Monica Juma; Labor and Social Protection, Ukur Yattani; Sports Culture and Heritage, Amina Mohamed, and Defence, Rachel Omamo, the Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua as well as Kenya’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Ambassador Catherine Mwangi, and Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Kenya, Ambassador Meles Alem.
During her visit, President Sahle-Work also met members of the Ethiopian Community in Kenya. She called upon them to contribute generously towards further cementing the multifarious ties between the two countries. Referring to the current wave of reforms, she also stressed that it was important for all Ethiopians, all over the world, to engage in supporting the reforms brought about by Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed.
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands on an official visit to Ethiopia
Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrived in Addis Ababa for an official visit to Ethiopia on Tuesday (May 14) in her role as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), a position she has held since 2009. In this role, she advises the Secretary-General and works worldwide to promote safe and affordable access to financial services for all. In 2017 Ethiopia launched a national strategy aimed at improving access to financial services for its citizens.
During her two-day visit, she held talks with President Sahle-Work Zewde, and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed as well as with Ahmed Shide, Minister of Finance, Dr. Getahun Mekuria, Minister of Innovation and Technology, and Dr. Yinager Dessie, Governor of the National Bank of Ethiopia. Queen Maxima had discussions with UN development officials and partners as well as the private sector and also met with farmers to discuss a new business model that has made some of them shareholders in the Habesha beer brewery. The brewery offers them partial pre-financing for barley production in the form of seed, fertiliser and agricultural advice. The farmers pay this back with a portion of their harvest and the brewery guarantees that it will purchase the rest. The model helps boost yields and farmers’ incomes. A second field visit focused on the various digital financial ‘Hello’ services provided by the company Belcash.
This was a second visit to Ethiopia for Queen Maxima. She came to the country in December 2013 on behalf of the UN; and also met Prime Minister Dr. Abiy at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.
UN Security Council holds an open debate on peacekeeping
The UN Security Council held an open debate on training and capacity building for UN peacekeeping missions last week. UN Secretary-general, António Guterres, said “notable progress” had been made in training ‘blue helmets’ and others who serve in some of the most dangerous places on earth, but “much still needs to be done”. Better training for peacekeepers deployed in increasingly hostile environments was, he added a “necessary and strategic” investment. It was a shared responsibility between Member States and the Secretariat, adding that the UN was working with Troop and Police-Contributing Countries to ensure units met operational standards before deployment, and had undergone pre-deployment training in accordance with UN standards. It was essential, he said, that Member States provide support through funding, training programs, mobile training teams and the translation of training materials, and strengthen conduct and discipline. He said there were training gaps in weapons handling, first aid, human rights and protection issues. Mr. Guterres noted the UN was implementing his Action Plan to Improve the Security of United Nations Peacekeepers. This included prevention of sexual exploitation, strengthening medical and engineering training, increasing the number of women in peacekeeping operations and a comprehensive training plan. To encourage more women leaders, a “talent pipeline specifically for senior women military officers” was under development”.
In a presidential statement, the Security Council recognized the vital role played by peacekeepers, and reaffirmed the basic principles of peacekeeping, including consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defense or defense of the mandate. It described peacekeeping “as one of the most effective tools available…in the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security.” The Council welcomed the efforts being undertaken to mobilize all partners and stakeholders in support of more effective United Nations peacekeeping through the Secretary-general’s initiative of Action for Peacekeeping and recognized the added value of the Declaration of Shared Commitments on Peacekeeping Operations. It welcomed the Secretary-general’s efforts to mobilize all partners and stakeholders in support of more effective United Nations peacekeeping.
During the day-long open debate, more than 60 delegates spoke, criticizing the trend towards cutting peacekeeping budgets, noting new threats like improvised explosive devices and targeted attacks, and questioning how to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse. They called to prioritize the safety and security of the 100,000 peacekeepers in the field, and highlighted the problem of armed children and the need for peacekeepers to communicate in local languages. Missions’ effectiveness and security did not depend on training alone, but on the way the Council formulated mandates; tasks must be commensurate with capacity. Peacekeeping needed to be properly resourced and support must be consistent and predictable. Peacekeeping operations must be accompanied by political processes based on national ownership. Providing humanitarian assistance in safe spaces depended largely on effective partnerships with aid actors and peacekeeping operations. Many delegates stressed the need to foster strong partnerships.
African delegates said the African Union should be endowed with necessary resources to fulfil its responsibility under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter and called for troops undertaking AU missions to be provided with adequate training and equipment, with a view to fully silencing the guns in Africa by 2020. The importance of regional and sub-regional collaboration in training and capacity efforts and the need for the international community enhancing the role of the AU in peacekeeping in Africa were stressed.
The Permanent Observer for the African Union, Fatima Kyari, noted that seven of the 14 UN peacekeeping missions were in Africa and that African countries represented 18 of the 30 top contributors of uniformed personnel to peacekeeping operations. Almost half of all uniformed peacekeepers come from AU states and Africa and contributed 63.4% of women in United Nations peacekeeping. She said peacekeepers deserved to be better enabled and qualified and underlined the need for realistic mandates, resources and the means to protect civilians and help countries move towards sustainable peace. She reiterated the African Union’s call for access to United Nations assessed contributions to fund African peace support operations.
Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Taye Atske-selassie underlined that training and equipment determined performance, and realistic, effectively defined mandates and sufficient resources were critical if missions were to be successful. Another requirement was strong and competent leadership at all levels and proper coordination between the Council, Troop- and Police-contributing Countries and the Secretariat to create the conditions needed for well-trained and properly equipped personnel for missions. Peacekeeping operations must be provided with adequate and sustained financial and human resources to deal with the new dimensions to UN peace operations including the growing focus on political solutions to conflicts, and the socio-cultural processes of conflict resolution and the emphasis on protection of civilians. Gaps in capacity and capability were major impediments to creating “fit for purpose” peacekeeping operations. Further consideration was needed on innovative approaches, such as triangular partnerships and co-deployments was needed.
Speakers emphasized the problems caused by today’s new political and security realities, the changing nature of conflict, the lack of commitment to political solutions, inadequate preparation of troops and the involvement of transnational actors. So, they called for clearly drafted, realistic mandate, adding that training and capacity-building activities were essential and peacekeeping personnel must receive effective training, on gender issues, on prevention of sexual and gender-based violence in conflict and on child protection. Speakers highlighted training gaps in human rights, safety and protection of troops and civilians and gender violence. Successful mandates require continual evolution of training and significant improvements to joint planning and analysis. This needs strong partnerships at the bilateral, multilateral and regional level. The Declaration of Shared Commitments was a clear road map for relevant stakeholders to enhance United Nations peacekeeping missions.
An EU-Ethiopia Business Forum in Brussels…
The EU-Ethiopia Business Forum held in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday this week (May 14-15) was the first such event to be organized by the European Commission, though an association of EU Businesses was established in Ethiopia in 2012. The objective was to stimulate European private sector investment in Ethiopia by providing practical information about doing business in the country and it was exceptionally successful. A large and diverse audience of over 200 representatives of companies from all over Europe and from Ethiopia, from both the public and private sectors, journalists and EU officials, attended. Investors and those interested in doing business in Ethiopia were provided with practical information, interacting with top officials from the Ethiopian Investment Commission and other high-ranking officials from Ethiopia as well as representatives of some of the largest European companies already active in Ethiopia.
The first day provided two separate panel discussions on Investing and Doing Business in Ethiopia followed by four “Breakout Sessions”. In an opening address, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Markos Tekle, presented an overview of the reforms being undertaken to open up the economic and political spheres in Ethiopia over the past year, including partial privatization of state-owned sectors, including telecommunications, logistics and energy. He appreciated the strong and sustainable partnership between Ethiopia and the EU. He called upon current investors to expand their investments and encouraged those interested in Ethiopia’s economic opportunities to explore and exploit the opportunities available. He was followed by Ethiopian Investment Commissioner, Abebe Abebayehu, who introduced the “New Horizon of Hope” policy and the government’s vision for attracting Foreign Direct Investment to the country, a vision that includes its industrialization agenda.
Form the European side, there were presentations by Patrick Simonnet, European External Action Service’s Head of Division for the Horn of Africa and East Africa; Hans Stausboll, Director EU-AU Relations, West and East Africa at EU’s Directorate-general for International Cooperation and Development; and Ms. Eleni Kyrou, Head of the European Investment Bank representation to Ethiopia and the AU.
The panel on Investing in Ethiopia addressed fiscal policy, the ease of doing business in Ethiopia, access to land and industrial parks and the legal protection of investors. State Minister Dr. Markos noted that the government was working on new measures to improve doing business. The Prime Minister has set up a steering committee to work on this alone. Planned reforms will take measures on trade registration, improvement of the credit system, business solvency and liquidation as well as changing the investment laws and directives. Currently, Ethiopia’s overall ranking stands 159th out of 199 countries. The reforms are expected to move Ethiopia into the top 100 for ease of business in the next three years.
Ethiopian Investment Commissioner Ato Abebe underlined that his Commission and associated agencies would be there every step of the way to support all investors and solve any problems. So much has changed and improved in the last year, he said, that it could be described as a real revolution. Erik Habers, Head of Cooperation for the EU Delegation to Ethiopia, stressed how positive he was about developments in Ethiopia, and focused on the opportunities offered by mobile banking and the telecom sector.: “Opportunities in ICT are sometimes overlooked by EU investors, especially in mobile banking. Easing financial structures has a huge power of transformation.”
A second panel session on Doing Business in Ethiopia, the market potential and competitive advantages of Ethiopia, and the ease and challenges of doing business, heard from the President of the Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Associations, Melaku Ezezew. He stressed the government intended to turn Addis Ababa, the political capital of Africa, into the economic capital of the continent. He noted the establishment of the steering committee to solve problems and attract investors from all over the world.
Mr. Dougie Brew, Corporate Affairs and Sustainable Business Director Africa of Unilever, highlighted the incredible market potential of Ethiopia, with its growing middle class. He noted his industry had the potential to generate 100 indirect jobs for every direct job created. He summed up Ethiopia’s advantages as a young population, a growing market, an evolving consumer base and the collective vision of the government to promote inclusive development. Mr. Thomas Schaefer, Chairman and Managing Director of Volkswagen Group South Africa, said it was the political will and the vision of the government that attracted Volkswagen to Ethiopia. He encouraged investors to think out of the box and use Ethiopia’s national gas reserves rather than pay heavily for imported oil. That would cut CO2 emissions by 50%.
The “Breakout Sessions” covered four key sectors: agro-processing; textiles, apparel and leather; pharmaceuticals and medical; and ICT. Mr. Lutz Harman, Fruitbox Africa, and Mr. Ben Depraetere, BASF Vegetable Seeds Ethiopia, shared information about their successful agro-processing operations in Ethiopia. The ICT session noted that part of the AI of the famous robot Sophia was programmed by ICog Labs, an Ethiopian company founded by Getnet Aseffa.
Mr. Jyrki Katainen, Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, gave a keynote address outlining the Commission's commitment to invest in Small and Medium Enterprises, de-risk investment and contribute towards the improvement of the investment climate. He urged Ethiopia to expedite its accession to the World Trade Organization saying this would provide further certainty and guarantee market access to investors. He called on investors to explore investment opportunities in Ethiopia, highlighting that EU had allocated significant funding for external investment. The Commissioner also stressed that Ethiopia's "big market, abundant and competitive labour, and huge potential for local sourcing of raw materials" were pull factors for investing in the country.
Ethiopia’s improvements in Human Rights commended at the UN Periodic Review
The Third Cycle of Ethiopia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) was held at the 33rd Session of the UPR Working Group in the UN Human Rights Council on Tuesday (May 14) in Geneva. Ethiopia’s delegation was headed by Dr. Gedion Timothewos, Deputy Attorney General; and the three country representatives serving as rapporteurs for the review of Ethiopia were Angola, Hungary and Nepal.
Dr. Gedion briefed the UPR Working Group on the actions that Ethiopia has taken to improve the human rights situation to fulfill its human rights obligations and on the steps taken over the past year to advance human rights in Ethiopia. He said: “Concrete measures have been taken over the past year in Ethiopia to advance human rights despite tensions and communal clashes which have resulted in deaths and displacement of many citizens.” He noted that many who had been charged and convicted under the anti-terrorism law, including journalists, bloggers and dissidents from political opposition groups, had been granted pardon by the government. This and other laws were being withdrawn and replaced. The government had repealed the former Charities and Societies (CSOs) law to better respect freedom of association and the work of civil society organizations as well as promote the rule of law and democracy.
Dr. Gedion pointed out that a National Reconciliation Commission had been set up to promote inter-communal understanding, reconciliation and harmony and detailed the government’s efforts to provide socio-economic services, including health care, education and housing to the neediest. The proportion of public spending in poor areas in Ethiopia had increased by 2/3 over the past decade, he noted, and this included expenditure in the education sector and for the building of roads and infrastructure.
Member States commended Ethiopia for the improvement of the human rights situation in the country through political reform measures and steps to widen civil society and political and democratic space, and for the release of political prisoners previously charged as terrorists. They welcomed the progressive policy reforms introduced to improve the political, economic and social situation. They praised the country for achieving gender parity in government positions, for the implementation of the growth and transformation plan 2016-2020 leading to poverty reduction, and for the national action plan 2016-2020.
Member States also commended Ethiopia for implementing many of the recommendations from the previous cycle and encouraged the Government to continue the positive trajectory of the reform process and strengthen its legislative framework and the justice system to ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country. They
recommended Ethiopia to strengthen the capacity of the judiciary, the Ombudsperson and the National Human Rights Commission as well as to step up efforts to combat human trafficking and to improve food security. They also recommended Ethiopia to ensure the holding of equitable, free and transparent elections, scheduled for May 2020, and continue to take steps to promote religious dialogue and prevent discrimination based on religion and promote inter-communal reconciliation. They further recommended Ethiopia to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to abolish the death penalty, to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and to improve prison conditions.
Dr. Gedion, in his concluding remarks, thanked participants for their constructive engagement and recommendations. He emphasized Ethiopia’s commitment to continue to participate actively in the UPR process in the future.
This was the third review of Ethiopia’s human rights record by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group. The first and second reviews took place in December 2009 and April 2014 respectively. The reviews look at documents provided by the State; information from reports of independent human rights experts and groups, known as the Special Procedures, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities; and information provided by other stakeholders including national human rights institutions, regional organizations and civil society groups. During the review, States spell out the steps they have taken to implement recommendations made during previous reviews and on which they committed themselves to follow-up as well as highlighting recent human rights developments in the country.
State Minister Mrs. Hirut attended the Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development
The 2019 Stockholm Forum on Peace and Development, was held this week (May 14-16) under the theme: “From crisis response to peace building: Achieving synergies.” Hosted by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 400 high-level policymakers, researchers and practitioners gathered in Stockholm for the sixth annual Forum. These included forward-looking leaders working on stabilization, humanitarian aid, development cooperation and peacebuilding. It provided an opportunity to foster dialogue and to prepare for the upcoming United Nations High-Level Political Forum that will review Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 16. The Forum was opened by Ambassador Jan Eliasson, former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General and Chair of the SIPRI Governing Board.
A keynote address was given by Peter Maurer, President, International Committee of the Red Cross who emphasized that humanitarian action helped make peace possible even if humanitarian actors were not peace builders. He stressed neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action was distinct from political agendas and must remain so, but also argued the need for stronger connections between humanitarian aid; development cooperation; and peace building, Dr. Sima Samar, Chair, Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Council and member of the UN Secretary-General High-Level Panel on Mediation, shared her knowledge of Afghanistan and underlined the need for the meaningful inclusion of women and minorities at all stages of peace processes and during post-conflict reconstruction.
The theme for the opening panel was the theme of the Forum. Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program highlighted the World Bank’s ‘Pathways to Peace’ report and how the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have laid out a vital roadmap for the future. Raya Haffar El Hassan, Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Lebanon, noted a better synthesis between donors could lead to a sustainable peace. Hafez Ghanem, Vice President for Africa, World Bank outlined the new role of the World Bank in investing in peace and emphasized the need to focus on the drivers of fragility such as climate change and exclusion. General Gyllensporre, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), called for better conflict analysis and the need to share in a combined body of knowledge. Karin Wallensteen, State Secretary for International Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, Sweden, stressed the need for a nexus of humanitarian efforts, development efforts, and peace efforts.
Mrs. Hirut, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, highlighted the peace and development aspects of the reforms ongoing in Ethiopia, and emphasized that a smooth transfer of power, and a managed and inclusive transition, were the best lessons that could be drawn from the recent developments in Ethiopia. Ethiopia, she said, had managed a crisis and achieved better stability. She emphasized the role of youth development, a theme echoed by other panelists, and stressed the demographic challenge in Ethiopia and elsewhere.
The threat of impending violence or the cessation of violence often demands immediate responses. Initial responses do not always reflect requirements for peacebuilding over the long term. The Stockholm Forum aimed to explore the compromises and dilemmas resulting from the imperatives of rapid response and the long-term vision necessary for achieving a sustainable peace. In addressing these dual approaches, the Forum hoped to inform the way humanitarian assistance, security responses, development cooperation and peacebuilding can be synergized, and demonstrate ways to create more effective national action and international support in fragile contexts.
During the remaining two “Focus Days”, a series of over forty workshops and roundtable discussions covered specific challenges and explored possible solutions. They covered included: numerous topics including corruption and peace building, human rights and the SDGs, managing security and stability in the Horn of Africa, and many more. Among the subjects were: Corruption and Peacebuilding; Is Peace making too important to be left in the Hands of Peacemakers; Gendered Dimensions of Conflict and Gendered Responses; Timing and Sequencing of Post-war elections; Promoting and Sustaining Peace; What Role of Security Sector reform in Peace processes; Climate change, Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace; the Role of Security Actors in Protecting Civilians; and Policing in Stabilization Environments.
A session on Managing Security and Promoting Stability in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea identified the key security threats of the Horn and the Red Sea area; explored the emerging role of local, regional and international actors; and considered how existing regional institutions could be adapted to better manage the security challenges. The session on the Security Implications of Megatrends in Africa examined how these would interact with evolving security conditions in coming decades, and how to identify appropriate policy and institutional responses. Panellists reviewed the exogenous and endogenous forces shaping the future of African security and considered a range of alternative potential scenarios. The meeting on the Political Economy of Humanitarian Aid and Implications for Peace Mediation in South Sudan explored the interaction between humanitarian operations and mediation efforts in South Sudan and the impact of aid on the political economy of conflict.
China-Ethiopia relationship offers great possibilities for the future
In a lecture to the Institute of South-South Cooperation and Development (ISSCAD) of Peking University, Ambassador Teshome shared his thoughts on China-Africa relations and Ethiopia-China cooperation within the framework of South-South Cooperation. He detailed recent political and economic developments in Ethiopia and answered questions.
Ambassador Teshome offered a comprehensive analysis of the relationship, defining China’s partnership with Africa as unavoidable since they shared principles of equality, mutual trust and respect, mutual interest and benefit. China, he stressed, had been a long-time friend for Africa and especially close in difficult times. He emphasized that China had been, and remained a preferred partner for Africa, because it respected the sovereignty of African states: China did not intervene in political situations in any African country. It was on this basis that the Forum for China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was born to cement the relationship between Africa and China. FOCAC was a strong partnership, which has been in gestation over a long period of time. It had, said Ambassador Teshome, the potential of providing various advantages to both sides, China and Africa. Already, in many areas, the partnership had delivered concrete outcomes that were beneficial to Africa, though Africa still needed to utilize the partnership more effectively in terms of the potential of market and the business opportunities.
Looking at the relationship between China and Ethiopia, Ambassador Teshome noted that Ethiopia was benefitting substantially from China in many ways. He cited the railway from Djibouti to Addis Ababa, a development which was already changing the economic status of Ethiopia. He mentioned the scholarships offered to Ethiopian students in a number of different fields, providing for capacity building which remains a fundamental necessity for a country like Ethiopia. Ambassador Teshome noted that Ethiopia was the first country in Africa to sign an agreement to enter into the Belt and Road Initiative partnership.
Responding to questions on what he expects from the China-Ethiopia relationship, the Ambassador underlined science and technology as a critical area in which Ethiopia needed assistance from China. Professor Fu Jun, Academic Dean of ISCCAD, thanked Ambassador Teshome for talking to ISSCAD students on issues related to Africa-Ethiopia diplomacy. ISCCAD students include more than 20 government officials from Ethiopia working on masters' and doctoral programs.