Experts from the U.N. International Commission on Human Rights in Ethiopia returned to Geneva on Aug. 2 at the end of their first mission to launch field investigations.
The mission, composed of three independent experts appointed by the United Nations, stayed in Ethiopia from July 25-30, where it conducted several meetings to discuss the mission’s mandate, and will submit an initial written report in September (https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/08/1123822).
The United Nations established the experts’ mission for the purpose of impartially investigating allegations of violence and abuses perpetuated by each side during the Tigray conflict, and it is composed of Kaari Betty Murungi (Kenyan national, professor of international humanitarian law at SOAS London, serving as chair), Steven Ratner (U.S.) and Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka).
The meetings of the first mission were preparatory to the organization of subsequent visits to Tigray, where the experts hope to receive “immediate and full access” to visit the sites under investigation and to gather testimony. Meetings have also been arranged with members of the National Dialogue Commission and the Inter-Ministerial Task-Force, the Ethiopian National Human Rights Commission, civil society organizations, diplomats, and representatives of UN agencies in Ethiopia.
According to the Commission members’ announcement last June 30, the first investigations will focus on an incident of violence committed in Oromia last June 18 that allegedly led to the massacre of more than 200 people, and in parallel the investigation of violence committed in the first phase of the conflict, in early November 2000, in the northern region of Tigray.
The Commission’s mission was at first rejected by the Ethiopian federal government, which had also tried unsuccessfully to vote to block its funding at the UN (https://addisstandard.com/news-un-rights-experts-hope-for-unhindered-access-without-delay-to-relevant-areas-for-investigation/).
The holding of a preliminary visit to discuss with Ethiopian authorities the UN’s interpretation of the mission’s mandate is a positive sign, although not yet the full success of the mission itself.