Somalia and Ethiopian troops…..
At the IGAD Summit last week, Ethiopia agreed to back the efforts of Kenya, the AU and Somalia’s government to end the Islamic insurgency in Somalia. IGAD’s Executive Secretary Mahboub Maalim said IGAD had asked Ethiopia’s government to “come in and assist peace and stabilization”, and he added “there was a promise from the Ethiopian government that they would do so.” Ethiopia will respond to requests from AMISOM and the TFG and any operations will be carried out under the auspices and with the agreement of IGAD Chiefs of Defence Staffs. Reports of large-scale Ethiopian convoys across the border have been greatly exaggerated though there have been, as in the past, some reconnaissance missions in border areas. It has been made clear that any troops that do participate in operations at the request of IGAD, AMISOM or the TFG will only be involved for short periods to support TFG forces or assist other Somali forces fighting Al-Shabaab.
On Monday, this week President Sheikh Sharif told members of the public in Mogadishu that at the IGAD Summit last week which he had attended Ethiopia had made it clear it was not interested in deploying troops in Somalia. He added that some countries had been pressuring Ethiopia to contribute soldiers to AMISOM but it had refused. “Ethiopian officials have been telling us in every meeting we have had that they do not want to send their troops to Somalia, but that they want to strengthen neighbourly relations and cooperate in the fight against Al-Shabaab”. He emphasized the role that Ethiopia is playing would be to strengthen its border security and to support Somali government forces.
On Monday, Al-Shabaab banned 16 aid groups from the regions it controlled, alleging they had been carrying out “illicit activities” and “misconduct”. Among those involved were several UN agencies, UNHCR, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the UN Population Fund and the UN Office for Project Services, as well as the Norwegian Refugee Council, the German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Solidarity, the Danish Refugee Council, Concern, Norwegian Church Aid, Cooperazione Internazionale and Action Contre la Faim. Aid agency officials said it was truly bad news for the tens of thousands who depend upon these agencies for aid and assistance. In a statement, Al-Shabaab accused the agencies of “financing, aiding and abetting subversive groups seeking to destroy the basic tenets of the Islamic penal system”, and of “persistently galvanizing the local population against the full establishment of Islamic Sharia system”. It claimed the banned groups lacked “political detachment and neutrality with regard to the conflicting parties, thereby intensifying the instability and insecurity gripping the nation”. The agencies were also accused of misappropriating funds and using corruption and bribery as well as passing information about Al-Shabaab activities.
Following the lifting of the famine status for three districts, aid agencies have begun the resettlement of some of the tens of thousands of drought displaced Somalis now in camps around Mogadishu. The United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Society has started a project to resettle some 4,000 families, about 24,000 people, back in their homes so they can take advantage of the rainfall before the end of the rainy season. The returnees are being given food for three months, material for shelters and some cash for each family. The returns are voluntary with most of the families going back to Bay and Bakool and Lower Shebelle, the three regions which have been reclassified from famine/humanitarian catastrophe to humanitarian emergency areas. Somalia’s National Disaster Management Agency says it is the government’s policy to resettle all the internally displaced people and more returns are planned among those willing to go back. Many of those involved are farmers keen to get back to take advantage of the best rains for three years and plant crops.
There have been few reports of Kenyan/TFG military activity on the ground during the week though the Kenyan air force has continued to carry out operations to decimate and degrade Al-Shabaab’s capacity to plan and launch operations. There have, however, been reports from areas of central Somalia and Juba regions that local militias have been taking up arms against Al-Shabaab authorities, apparently in anticipation of forthcoming AU/IGAD military assistance. Clashes between militia and Al-Shabaab forces have been reported in Middle Juba this week. In the Middle Shabelle village of Adadey, fighting led to deaths on both sides after people responded to the beating of a women by beheading the Al-Shabaab militant responsible. A subsequent Al-Shabaab attack was driven off and Al-Shabaab apparently abandoned the area.
…..and Progress in the Somalia Roadmap
Last weekend the UN organized another Consultative Conference, attended by members of the international community as well as government officials and representatives of Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a, civil society groups and the regional administrations of Puntland and Galmudug. Participants heard reports from the four joint committees which have been looking into issues of security, the constitution, political outreach and reconciliation, and good governance. The next phase of the consultation process will be held in Garowe, in Puntland, and will focus on discussion of the draft constitution.
Considerable progress is being made in organizing the Roadmap as the progress report at the end of last week demonstrates. In the security area the Joint Security Committee (JSC) has been meeting regularly for the past few months with the August meeting the first to be held in Mogadishu. The October meeting was held under the new 2-day format called for by the Roadmap and, for the first time, included representatives from regional stakeholders, Puntland, Galmudug and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a. The National Security and Stabilization Plan 2011-2014 (NSSP) has been drafted and finalized with input from the regional stakeholders and was debated and approved by the Council of Ministers at an emergency meeting on 26th October and then submitted to Parliament.
The TFG-controlled security zone has been expanded and now 98% of Mogadishu is under the control of the TFG, and ongoing stabilization of the city continues with Somali Police and TFG forces consolidating gains after the August expulsion of Al-Shabaab. New district administrations have been re-established in the newly-liberated areas of Mogadishu, and the Police and the National Somali Security Agency are conducting regular patrols all over the city, with regular checkpoints established around the city to examine vehicles and collect weapons. The Prime Minister has also established a special taskforce made up of police and security forces to secure humanitarian aid distribution in Mogadishu. He is now holding regular meetings to coordinate activities with the Ministry of Interior and National Security, with the Mayor, the Police Commissioner and the 16 District Commissioners, and to discuss Mogadishu security. District Peace and Security Committees implement the outcome and decisions of these meetings.
Outside Mogadishu, the TFG continues the offensive against Al-Shabaab in the south of the country in its joint military operations with Kenyan troops in Lower Juba and Middle Juba regions. In Gedo region, the TFG is in the process of stabilizing the region after succeeding in ousting Al-Shabaab and in creating a buffer-zone to deliver humanitarian aid. On piracy, the Anti-Piracy Taskforce is undertaking capacity building activities and building a robust national coastguard. It is coordinating information and activity between the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Interior and National Security, and the Ministry of Fisheries as well as collaborating with regional administrations under the Kampala Process on Piracy.
The Committee of Experts for the Constitution was appointed on 23rd September. It is composed of 9 members selected by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Constitution in consultation with stakeholders. The committee is currently in the process of preparing for the National Consultative Constitutional Conference scheduled to take place in the second week of December in Garowe, Puntland. The topics to be discussed will include Federalism, a Decentralized System of Administration and other outstanding contentious issues. The Joint Committee to prepare for the adoption of the Draft Constitution and for recommendations on the reform of the Federal Parliament was appointed on 20th November. The Council of Ministers has already appointed a Cabinet Select Committee on Election Preparation and by mid January this will have produced draft legislation related to the establishment of an independent electoral commission and nominations for members of the electoral commission, rules governing the conduct of elections at district, regional and national level, and laws related to the formation and registration of political parties.
There has also been progress on political outreach and consultation starting with the successful Consultative Conference on the Roadmap in September where the TFG, Puntland, Galmudug and ASWJ were all present. That conference was preceded by several high-level visits, including visits to Puntland by TFG Prime Minister Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali on 26th August and by TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on 28th August; and by Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali to Galmudug on 30th August where he signed a historic 8-point plan on strengthening relations between the two administrations. On 19th September, a high-level reconciliation dialogue took place in Nairobi between the TFG Minister of Interior and National Security, the TFG Minister of Constitution and Reconciliation, the Deputy SRSG, and emerging regional administrations. In mid October, a government mission led by the Deputy Minister for Interior and National Security went to Puntland and Galmudug and to ASWJ areas. Another mission that month led by the Chief of Armed Forces and AMISOM recruited soldiers from all regions for joint training in Uganda.
During the past 3 months, the TFG has supported local level reconciliation and peace building initiatives across the country. This has involved inter alia sending reconciliation delegations to Galmudug, Himan and Heeb, Puntland and Gedo to reconcile conflicting groups. Inclusivity and participation is one of the key principles underlying the implementation of the Roadmap. Civil society is a key partner of the TFG and a Civil Society Organization Consultative Meeting was held in Mogadishu last weekend with the business community, traditional elders, diaspora, intellectuals and artists, NGOs and professional associations, religious leaders, women groups and youth representatives all represented.
The final area of consideration is that of good governance. The Prime Minister has established several mechanisms for greater coordination and information sharing including a Humanitarian Drought Response Ministerial Committee of 8 Cabinet Ministers, set up on 30th June to oversee the delivery of humanitarian assistance to IDPs. This committee meets weekly with international partners, local NGOs and the Somali Disaster Management Agency which was created as an independent agency by the Prime Minister in July to manage all disaster issues within the country. Since its establishment it has produced monthly reports on all the incidents that have occurred in recent months and on ongoing needs. In September, a Humanitarian Coordination Office was created within the Office of the Prime Minister tasked with ensuring that the information flow between the TFG and its humanitarian partners runs smoothly. It has brought together the Ministry of Interior and National Security, the Somali Disaster Management Agency, UN OCHA and the Mogadishu Mayor’s Office in a working group to meet regularly on the humanitarian crisis.
On 17th November, the Select Cabinet Committee on Anti-Corruption reported back to the Council of Ministers on a proposed legislative framework, recommending the reactivation of Law No.10 of 1968 to re-establish the Bureau for Investigation of Corruption. This will now update the relevant laws within 60 days, and in the meantime Interim Commissioners have been nominated and are in the process of being vetted. The government demonstrated its concern over corruption in October when two Mogadishu district commissioners were arrested, prosecuted, and sentenced after they were found guilty of diverting food aid.
The AU Peace and Security Council discusses Sudanese issues
The latest round of negotiations on post-independence relations between the Sudan and South Sudan was held in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), 25th – 30th November. The session ended on Wednesday when the AUHIP failed to resolve differences on charges over oil and other pending issues. Further talks are scheduled to be held in December and in January in the respective capitals.
In the meantime, the AU’s Peace and Security Council held two meetings this week (November 28th and 30th) on Sudan to consider the situation in Darfur and the activities of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan. The Council took note of the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the activities of the AU High Level Implementation Panel and was briefed by Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Joint Special Representative (JSR) of the African Union, former President Thabo Mbeki, Chair of the AUHIP, and of Haile Menkerios, the United Nations Special Envoy for Sudan, as well hearing statements from representatives of the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan.
In a subsequent communiqué, the Council expressed its concerns over continued hostilities in parts of Darfur, called on all armed movements that have not yet done so to join the peace process, and reiterated its support to the efforts of the AUHIP, with the support of UNAMID, to facilitate the early launching of the Darfur Political Process (DPP). The Council said it was seriously concerned by the continuing conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and urged the Government of Sudan to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, called upon all parties to immediately cease hostilities, permit unhindered humanitarian access, and allow the return of displaced persons to their homes.
It welcomed the progress made so far in post-secession negotiations between the Governments of the Sudan and of South Sudan, including the establishment of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM), the Agreement on Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area, and the Framework Agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-North) on Political Partnership between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the SPLM-North and Security Arrangements in Blue Nile and South Kordofan States, signed in Addis Ababa on 20th and 28th June, respectively.
It also took note of the ongoing AUHIP-facilitated negotiations on the outstanding issues, including: (i) access by the South to the oil pipelines that run through the North, (ii) transitional financial arrangements to cushion the economic shock to the Sudanese economy from the loss of revenue that accompanied the independence of the South, (iii) the division of assets and liabilities, (iv) arrears relating to oil and other outstanding matters, (v) banking and cross-border payments (vi) trade relations, (vii) border demarcation, dispute resolution and the management of pastoralist migration across the common border, (viii) security matters, including the management of a demilitarized zone between the two States, (ix) the management of water resources, including the Nile waters, (x) the nationality status of South Sudanese in Sudan and of Sudanese in South Sudan, (xi) dispute resolution mechanisms, and (xii) the efforts to find a solution to the Abyei issue.
The communiqué stressed the primary responsibility of the leaderships of Sudan and South Sudan in ensuring that the outstanding issues are swiftly resolved. It strongly urged the leaderships of Sudan and South Sudan should desist from any unilateral action that might negatively impact on the interests, stability and development of either country. It reiterated the AU’s full support for the Agreement on Abyei, urging both Sudan and South Sudan to faithfully and unconditionally implement their obligations under the Agreement. It expressed its deep appreciation to the Government of Ethiopia for the speedy deployment of troops within the framework of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
The Council encouraged the AUHIP to pursue and intensify its engagement with the GoS and other stakeholders, to work closely with the Government of South Sudan in support of its efforts to meet the challenge of governance in a context of diversity, and to continue to prioritize democratization in both states. It also underlined the critical role that the international community could play in the attainment of the objective of two viable States. This included the immediate lifting of the sanctions imposed on Sudan, the granting of debt relief and the provision of timely and adequate financial support to lessen the impact on the Sudanese economy of the loss of substantial revenue following the independence of South Sudan. It, therefore, encouraged the African Union Commission to take the necessary steps to reactivate the Sudan Consultative Forum as soon as possible to facilitate closer coordination of all efforts to provide more effective support for the aim of two viable States at peace with one another.
Prime Minister Meles visits the Republic of Korea
Prime Minister Meles has been on a four day official visit to South Korea this week at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Korea, Lee Myung-bak. His visit follows the visit of President Lee to Ethiopia and two other African countries in July. At a summit meeting on Monday, President Lee and Prime Minister Meles signed a memorandum of understanding on industrial cooperation, and South Korea agreed to help Ethiopia develop its textile and leather industry though a sharing of development experience and knowledge. President Lee expressed his satisfaction that relations between the two countries had moved forward rapidly since his visit to Ethiopia in July, with Ethiopia moving to reopen its embassy in Seoul. He hoped that the Prime Minister’s visit would help to expand further all-round cooperation.
The Prime Minister said Ethiopia considered South Korea an important model for its economic development and he hoped for greater co-operation in nurturing textile and leather industries and establishing factories. He also welcomed a plan put forward by President Lee which would involve the invitation of 300 descendents of Ethiopian veterans of the 1950-53 Korean War for vocational training in South Korea. This, the President noted, was part of a program to repay Ethiopia for the help it provided during the war. Prime Minister Meles said this would help train workers needed for Ethiopia’s economic development. One of the core sectors of Korea/Ethiopia development cooperation is education and resource training which focuses on rural development, health, education and environment and is expected to have a positive contribution on the implementation of Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plan.
Ethiopia has been a focus of South Korea’s efforts to transfer development knowledge to Africa, and South Korea has more than doubled its official development assistance to Ethiopia to US $ 10.32 million last year, helping to draw up a “green growth” economic development plan. It has also helped to establish the Agricultural Transformation Agency, modelled on Korea’s former Economic Planning Board which was credited with designing and implementing South Korea’s development in the 1960s and 1970s.
In an interview Prime Minister Meles noted that he had been to South Korea twice before, in 1998 when the country was suffering from the currency crisis of the previous year, and again last year to attend the G20 Summit at Seoul. He had been impressed to see how well South Korea had overcome the currency crisis and weathered the 2008 global financial crisis. He said one characteristic of Korea’s success was its capacity to use adversity and challenge as a source of opportunity. This was one of the elements of its success – the capacity to reinvent itself as necessary. Korea, of course, has achieved an ‘economic miracle’ and Prime Minister Meles said he was eager to learn from the developmental model of the late former President, Park Chung-hee. He said that what interested him was how Korea rose from poverty to become a rich country and in its experiences; President Park had successfully led Korea’s economic development.
Prime Minister Meles also attended the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held this week in the city of Busan to consider the lack of progress in the International Aid Transparency Initiative. There is widespread agreement of the need for a broader and deeper partnership at all levels of development, a set of effective principles and a revitalized global effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals as well as recognition that the poorest and most fragile states need security, capacity and special consideration, and that achieving results must be based on policies that encourage direct participation by everybody in the development process. Speaking in advance of his presence at the meeting, Prime Minister Meles called on donor nations to provide quality aid, noting that development assistance alone cannot lead to industrialization. Most development aid, especially from western nations, was used for social services, for primary healthcare, primary education and similar areas. This was very valuable and important but developing countries also needed to overcome their lack of infrastructure and skills through more focused investment in these areas. “Development aid can be effective or its impact on development can be very little”, he said. The quality of aid to Africa had not been of good quality and had been largely focused “on managing poverty better than eliminating it.”
A Consultative workshop for Ethiopia’s Human Rights Action Plan
The first consultative meeting of the National Coordinating Committee for Ethiopia’s National Human Rights Action Plan was convened this week (November 28th – 29th) at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa. The workshop brought together more than 160 members of the National Coordinating Committee, which includes representatives of the Federal and Regional Governments and civil society organizations, and representatives of international organizations and the media. Ministers, State Ministers and Vice-Presidents of Regional States were among those present. Ambassador Teruneh Zenna, Chief Commissioner of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, made an opening speech and Ato Berhan Hailu, the Minister of Justice, officially opened the workshop. Both stressed that the preparation of the National Human Rights Action Plan was a milestone in Ethiopia’s endeavour in ensuring full protection of the rights enshrined in the Constitution and other international human rights instruments to which Ethiopia is a party.
The agenda of the Consultative Meeting and workshop focused on a discussion of the nature and international experiences for the preparation of the Action Plan. Ato Abraham Ayalew, Secretary of the National Coordination Committee, from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, presented a paper on the preparation of such plans. The session was moderated by Ambassador Fisseha Yimer, Special Advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. The workshop also discussed the flow of data, the collection of information and the structures created for the preparation of the Action Plan as well as the role of various institutions involved in the process. The conference was closed by the Deputy State Minister of Justice, the Chairperson of the National Coordination Committee, after a 7 point resolution was agreed by the members of the National Coordinating Committee. The resolution emphasizes the importance of the National Human Rights Action Plan, the role of the National Coordinating Committee and the importance of coming up with a quality action plan through a participatory process as soon as possible.
The Action Plan, which will be approved by the Parliament, will serve the Nation as the major element in the country’s all-round efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights. It is expected that all the branches of the Government (legislature, executive and judiciary) as well as Non-governmental Organizations and the general public will also contribute their efforts to the preparation and implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan.
The government has put in place very ambitious plans to achieve various targets in the fields of democracy, good governance and human rights in the five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). One of the more important pillars of the Plan gives due attention to the protection and promotion of human rights and it has made preparation and implementation of a separate and effective National Human Rights Action Plan one of the parameters for the success of the GTP.
The concept of national human rights action plans was first developed as part of the second World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, in 1993. The conference culminated in the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action and this document was later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly. It recommends that each state “shall consider the desirability of drawing up a national action plan identifying steps whereby that State would improve the promotion and protection of rights”. Just over 30 countries all over the world have so far prepared a national action plan and Ethiopia’s plan is intended to boost its national human rights protection system to maximum levels.
The decision to prepare the National Human Rights Action Plan was taken by the Prime Minister’s office and the preparation of the National Human Rights Action Plan was officially launched on the 1st of September by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the launch it was announced that the preparation of the Action Plan would be spearheaded by senior government officials and the necessary structures to accomplish the task would be established. This was rapidly followed by the setting up of a Steering Committee composed of Government Ministers, a National Coordinating Committee of Federal and Regional Representatives and a taskforce.
The aim is to enhance the country’s activities in human rights protection and promotion activities through a coordinated approach and in an effective manner. The preparation of the plan also underlines the Government’s determination to clearly translate existing normative frameworks in this area into practical action. The process will in fact also add significantly to Ethiopia’s efforts to fully implement the human rights protections enshrined in the constitution and its international commitments. These are, of course, part of the laws of the land by virtue of the Constitution.
Terms of Reference agreed for the International Panel of Experts on the Nile Dam
On Tuesday and Wednesday this week a tripartite meeting of ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, was held here in Addis Ababa. Attended by Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water and Energy and the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources of the Republic of Sudan, the aim of the meeting was to discuss and to agree on draft terms of reference for the establishment of the International Panel of Experts being set up to assess the impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. After discussions and exchanges of ideas on the draft it was adopted with certain amendments.
In accordance with the TOR the three countries have agreed to form an International Panel of Experts with ten members in all, two experts from each of the three countries and another four international experts. The meeting agreed on a time frame for the nomination of national members, two weeks from the end of the meeting. The names of the independent international experts are to be agreed within four weeks of exchanging of the names of the respective national teams. The work of assessing the impact of the Renaissance Dam on the downstream countries is expected to be finalized within nine months but this can be adjusted according to the request of the panel itself.
Ethiopia’s Minster of Water and Energy, Ato Alemayehu Tegenu, said the meeting had immense significance and opened a new chapter of cooperation by enhancing transparency, the exchange of information, trust and confidence among three sisterly countries. He indicated that several of the studies undertaken on the Nile had clearly shown that there was ample potential and a real window of opportunity for further development and it was these findings that that had lead to the initiation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The Minister stressed that Ethiopia was in need of huge energy resources to satisfy an ever growing demand, but the dam would also serve as the initiative to boost regional economic integration. Dr Hesham Kandil, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resource and Irrigation, and Engineer Kamal Ali, Sudan’s Minister of Irrigation and Water, expressed their appreciation for the holding of the Tripartite Ministerial Meeting to establish the International Panel of Experts. They both emphasized that the meeting was a manifestation of cooperation among the three countries and indicated it would form a good foundation for future and lasting cooperation, both for the Renaissance Dam and in other areas.
Before the ministerial meeting opened, experts from Ethiopia and Egypt discussed the decisions passed at the third and fourth meetings of the Ethiopia–Egypt Joint Ministerial Commission to establish the Technical Advisory Committee aimed to provide smooth implementation of cooperation between Ethiopia and Egypt in the areas of water resources and irrigation. During this meeting, the Technical Advisory Committee developed its rules of procedure and agreed an action plan for the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two governments on 17th September regarding cooperation on Water Resources and Irrigation. The Arab Republic of Egypt has allocated two million Egyptian pounds for the capacity building and training for this year. According to the action plan Egypt is offering PhD programs to three candidates, MSc programs for seven candidates and other short term annual training over the next years for Ethiopian students. The two countries are also working to strengthen and renew their bilateral relations. During its visit, the Egyptian delegation took the opportunity to visit the Addis Ababa University’s Faculty of Technology.
News and Views
The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister visits Japan
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hailemariam Desalegn left for Japan on Thursday this week. He is visiting the country as a guest of the Foreign Ministry of Japan from December 1st to December 5th. During his stay, Ato Hailemariam will be holding talks with Japan’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, and will be visiting a number of organizations as well as holding discussions with representatives of private companies. Last year marked the 80th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Ethiopia, and the Deputy Prime Minister’s visit is expected to further strengthen the close relations between the two countries. These have been regularly underlined by various visits including the visit of the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr. Koizumi, to Ethiopia in 2006, and of Prime Minister Meles to Japan on several occasions.
Japan has played a significant role in helping Ethiopia’s efforts in the fight against poverty, collaborating in agriculture, water resources, health, education and infrastructural development, and provided a wide range of grants and technical cooperation. The trade balance between Ethiopia and Japan has consistently remained in favour of Japan, and Ethiopia would like to see a significant increase in investment from the private sector in Japan. Ethiopia would also like a growth in tourism; the number of Japanese tourists visiting Ethiopia remains small. Japan has provided significant support through JICA, the Japanese Government Aid implementing body, for capacity building programs and technical cooperation projects, many aimed at transferring technology and knowledge to serve the socio-economic development of Ethiopia, a concept very much in line with Ethiopia’s current Five-Year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).
The 16th International Conference on AIDS/HIV
Final preparations have been made for the opening of the 16th International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Africa (ICASA) on Sunday. The conference, under the theme “Own, Scale-up and Sustain”, will bring together more than 7,000 delegates, including health professionals and scientists involved in anti-HIV/AIDS work. Among those expected to attend are former US President George W. Bush and several heads of state as well as ministers and political leaders. Some 22 million of the 33 million sufferers from AIDS are in Africa and a major aim of the conference is to raise public awareness throughout the continent. ICASA-2011 will be an opportunity to renew global commitment towards a more aggressive work in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and mobilize resource and technical assistance to reduce deaths from HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Ethiopia’s Minister of Health, Dr. Tewodros Adhanom, says the week long event, jointly organized by the ICASA-2011 Office in Addis Ababa and the Ministry of Health, is an opportunity to share information about approaches to the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and the main objective will be to learn from others. Ethiopia, he says is keen to learn from others and also show to the world what it is doing. The number of AIDs’ deaths has been decreasing steadily since 2004 as antiretroviral drugs have become more available. In 33 countries, the incidence has fallen by more than 25% between 2001 and 2009 and 22 of these are sub-Saharan African countries including Ethiopia, but Africa still bears an inordinate share of the global impact of HIV/AIDS. The Conference, which comes a few days after World AIDS Day, December 1st, will be the largest ever held in Addis Ababa. The first ICASA was held in Brussels, Belgium, in 1986 with the theme, “AIDS in Africa,” and Senegal hosted the 15th ICASA under the theme, “Africa’s Response: Face the Facts,” in 2008.
The Climate Change Convention at Durban – COP17
The 17th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) formally opened in Durban on Monday. The conference runs until December 9th and brings together national governments, international officials, and civil society organizations including the Climate Action Network, (CAN), a global network of more than 700 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 95 countries.
One of the main aims of COP17 is to obtain a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, the sole legally binding international agreement to cut green house gas emissions. COP 17 is taking place simultaneously with the 7th Session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 7) to the protocol. The first commitment period for Kyoto ends in 2012 and negotiators at Durban are seeking agreement for a second commitment period, though there are still divisions between countries on what the terms of the new commitment should be. Another aim is to agree to a pathway for another legally binding agreement by 2015. Neither COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009 nor COP 16 in Cancun last year managed to produce a new binding agreement on emissions reduction.
Another important issue in Durban is the Green Climate Fund under which industrialized countries are to provide 100 billion U.S. dollars per year by 2020 to help support developing countries in their efforts to adapt to climate change and mitigate its negative impacts. This was agreed in Cancun and a transitional committee has been working to develop some of the modalities. There are expectations that it will be made operational in Durban but current commitment levels will be insufficient to reach the 100-billion-dollar threshold. There are still disagreements over the structure and design of the Fund with developing countries making clear they would prefer direct access to national climate change trust funds while the developed countries have said they would prefer to use a third-party channel, such as the World Bank. Another priority is for progress on the formation of a Technology Mechanism, accompanied by a Climate Technology Center and Network (CTCN), agreed at Cancun, to help facilitate the movement of important technologies for climate change adaptation and mitigation to developing countries.
An IGAD parliamentary meeting on disaster risk reduction
Representatives of the National Assemblies of IGAD member states held a meeting in Nairobi this week to discuss disaster risk management, 28th –29th November. Chaired by Ethiopia, the current chair of IGAD, it was the first in its kind to engage legislators and policy makers in national and regional activities for disaster risk management. The meeting was opened by Engineer Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of IGAD, and Esther Murugi Mathenge, Kenya’s Minister of State for Special Programmes. Speakers underlined the importance of incorporating disaster risk reduction and management measures and strategies in development programs. IGAD’s Executive Secretary emphasized the importance of a regional approach. IGAD endorsed a disaster risk management programme in 2003 and this has been adding value to the initiatives of member states through awareness raising, experience sharing and advocacy.
Delegations outlined their progress in disaster risk management, and the delegate from Ethiopia noted that Ethiopia was shifting from ad hoc assessment based responses to an early warning system and disaster assessment based response. It was fully committed to implement a full scale disaster risk management cycle. Building on past experiences and moving away from a late emergency response it is now preparing a draft disaster risk management policy.
Participants adopted recommendations and a meeting statement, taking note that IGAD member countries are at risk from a wide range of natural and human made disasters, recognizing that poverty, population growth and depletion of natural resources make the region particularly vulnerable to these hazards .The statement acknowledged the paradigm shift from disaster management to disaster risk management and called upon the governments of member states to strengthen the development and implementation of appropriate national disaster risk management policies and strategies.
A judge causes a diplomatic row between Kenya and Sudan
On Monday this week, a Kenyan judge issued an order for the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan should he set foot in Kenya. His decision was apparently taken in response to a petition submitted a year ago by the local chapter of the International Commission of Jurists to compel the government to activate the warrant issued against President al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court. Kenya is a signatory to the Rome Statute of 2002 but has refused to implement the ICC arrest warrant against President al-Bashir. The Sudan government promptly expelled the Kenyan ambassador in Khartoum and recalled its own envoy from Nairobi. Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Moses Wetangula, quickly issued a statement reacting to the decision and emphasizing that the government would appeal the ruling. “It is important that the country’s national interests as well as the wider interests of the region in which we live are taken into account in matters of this nature.” He said the government would be asking the Attorney General to expeditiously appeal the matter. He also noted that the AU Summit in February 2009 had requested the Security Council to defer the ICC process, and President al-Bashir visited Kenya in August last year. Yesterday, Mr. Wetangula visited Khartoum as the personal envoy of President Kibaki to deliver a message from President Kibaki to President al-Bashir. Sudan’s Foreign Minister was quoted as saying that the Kenyan government had affirmed it would work to cancel the judge’s decision and it was making arrangements to do this.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs