The TFG Cabinet’s views on extension for the TFIs
A delegation from the TFG Council of Ministers, led by Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Abdillahi Omar, is currently visiting IGAD member states to discuss the issue of an extension of the TFG’s mandate. The suggestion is that the election of the leadership of the TFIs, including the offices of President, the Speaker and his deputies should be deferred for a year. This extension should also cover the present Council of Ministers. The TFG transitional period ends officially and legally on August 20th this year. Earlier the Somali Parliament decided to extend the term of office of the Parliament for three years from August 2011 to August 2014, and to elect the President, the Speaker and his deputies before August 20th. This decision was based on the constitutional requirement that any extension of the term of the TFG Parliament had to be made before February 20th if the Parliament was to retain its mandate and authority in accordance with Transitional Federal Charter.
According to the ministerial delegation the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia aims to achieve the political and security stability necessary to complete the transitional tasks and establish the rule of law as well as the reform of the TFI’s to move Somalia to post transitional permanent government. The delegation said it was the government’s intent to see Somalia unified again under an agreed national Federal Constitution approved through a public referendum.
The delegation therefore proposed the adoption of the three year extension period passed by Parliament as the basis for extending the term of all the Transitional Federal Institutions until August 2012. It suggested the election for the posts of the Speaker, his deputies and the President of the Republic should take place in July and August 2012. According to the delegation, this would give legitimacy to the TFG and its institutions. It urged all stakeholders to support its proposal as the platform to launch the urgent action needed to liberate and rebuild Somalia on a unified and consultative basis.
IGAD of course discussed the situation in Somalia at Summit level earlier, and came to the conclusion that the Parliament needed to extend its term of office, given the realities on the ground and the need to avoid a vacuum in Somalia. It accepted that the remaining political dispensations should be determined by the Somalis themselves. IGAD’s views were subsequently endorsed by the AU Summit in January this year.
AMISOM, IGAD and UNPOS adopt a Joint Strategy
At their latest monthly coordination meeting, AMISOM, IGAD and UNPOS adopted a Joint Regional Strategy (JRS) to support the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia in the management of the transition period. This follows from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signed by the three bodies, to encourage and enhance consultations, coordination and harmonization of all activities between themselves. Elements of the MOU require that the three organizations exchange information on all the activities relevant to the maintenance and promotion of peace, security and stability in Somalia; promote closer partnerships among themselves in these efforts as well as increasing coordination of their activities; develop and implement, where applicable, joint programs in the areas of peace, security and stability and for the establishment of effective government institutions in Somalia. Equally, they should work together to avoid any duplication of their efforts; facilitate coordination and partnership among the parties and with the International Community; and assist each other in effective implementation of areas of cooperation.
The Joint Regional Strategy outlines a common political, security and humanitarian approach as well as detailing the institutional and financial issues and challenges affecting the Somali peace process and the management of the TFG’s transition. The Principals of the three bodies agree to increase the visibility of their partnership through monthly joint press releases, to improve and regularize the flow of communication and information between them as well as with the international community and other partners, improve consultations with IGAD ambassadors and with the African Group of Ambassadors and deliver joint progress reports on the implementation of the Joint Regional Strategy. In effect, the Joint Regional Strategy will be a tool for coordination, cooperation and information sharing between the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), IGAD and the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), and between them and the international community and other partners. Implementation arrangements will be through a unified work plan which will detail the key activities to be undertaken by the three organizations.
The meeting took place as fighting increased considerably in several parts of the country, in Belet Weyne, Gedo region and other areas as well as in Mogadishu where TFG forces and AMISOM have recently had a number of successes, taking over three Al-Shabaab bases in the city and inflicting substantial casualties on Al-Shabaab. AMISOM has also been able to break into and take over the main tunnel supply route used by Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, and earlier this week, Burundi troops of AMISOM took over former Defence Ministry complex.
These advances underline the need for more immediate support from the international community to assist the TFG in the provision of public services in the areas now coming under its control.
The IGAD Partners Forum visits Hargeisa
Members of the IGAD Partners Forum (IPF), led by the co-chairs Ethiopia and Italy, paid a visit to Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland this week. The visit was made in connection with the efforts of IGAD and its partners to encourage the relative peace and stability of Somaliland and to acknowledge the recent election in Somaliland and it’s peaceful transfer of power. This was the first visit by the IPF to Somaliland and members of the delegation, which was warmly received on arrival at the Egal International Airport, held extensive discussions with President Ahmed Mahmoud ‘Silanyo’ and members of the cabinet, as well as the leadership of the Guurti and Parliament.
President ‘Silanyo’ welcomed the visit of the IPF delegation to Hargeisa. It was, he said, a major departure for the international community. He emphasized that Somaliland had been waiting for the international community to recognize its efforts for a long time, and the visit was one step forward in this regard. He added that the delegation was welcome to a peaceful country where the people had built up a nation from the ashes of war. The Chairperson of the Guurti, the Somaliland Council of Elders, Mr. Suleiman Gaal, on behalf of both houses of parliament, expressed his appreciation of the visit of the IPF members. He stressed that the people of Somaliland would continue to seek the support of the international community. In response the IPF delegation, through its co-chair, underlined its appreciation of the achievements of Somaliland and the development efforts of the Somaliland people. Members of the delegation emphasized their readiness to engage with Somaliland on how best to contribute to these efforts. The Executive Secretary of IGAD, who expressed his pleasure in being in Hargeisa, detailed the background to the visit and the need to keep up the momentum to ensure continuity and sustainability of IGAD contacts with Somaliland.
The IPF members were given an extensive briefing by the Minister of Planning regarding Somaliland’s vision and the development plans for rebuilding the economy over the next two decades. The plan, prepared in collaboration with the IGAD secretariat, is expected to move Somaliland another step forward in strengthening its peace and stability and its efforts to achieve statehood. The IPF delegation also visited the port of Berbera where the port manager and other officials gave a briefing on the activities of the port, its plans and the support needed from the international community to improve services.
The visit provided a valuable opportunity for the members of the IGAD Partner’s Forum to get direct information about developments in Somaliland and consider alternative options for assisting the efforts of the IGAD Secretariat in Somaliland. The IGAD Secretariat recently took over the Sheikh Veterinary Institute which is working to develop the capacity of IGAD member states on livestock sector development.
Puntland President Dr. Abdurahman ‘Farole’ visits Addis Ababa
Puntland President, Dr. Abdurahman ‘Farole’ visited Addis Ababa this week. He met and held extensive discussions with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, on current developments in Puntland as well as the recent conflict between Puntland and Somaliland and the overall security situation in Somalia. President Abdirahman briefed Ethiopian leaders on developments in Puntland, its relations with the TFG, its view on the decision of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Parliament to extend its term of office by three years, and the way forward for Somalia. He thanked the Ethiopian government for its continued support in the area of security and other fields to help ensure peace and stability.
In turn, Ethiopian government officials briefed President Abdurahman on the view of IGAD that the transition in Somalia in August must be achieved without creating a vacuum. They emphasized the need to resolve Puntland’s ongoing dispute with Somaliland through peaceful means and peaceful means alone. They noted the absolute necessity for the two sides to cooperate and work together as they both faced considerable challenges from extremist elements. Ethiopia was a friend to both administrations, and it wished to see their differences resolved peacefully and both continue with their reconstruction efforts to address the challenges of under-development and poverty. It is this that would ensure peace and stability along their common borders. It therefore suggested that both administrations should sit down together, to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue. Ethiopia offered its good offices for this purpose. Both Somaliland and Puntland have now expressed their readiness to open discussions. The leadership of both are fully aware that peace, stability and a readiness to participate in dialogue are values that have kept them on different and more peaceful trajectories than the rest of Somalia.
LDCs and South-South Cooperation: ministerial conference in New Delhi
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, was in New Delhi last week (February 18th and 19th) to attend the India-Least Developed Countries (LDC) ministerial conference. The theme of the conference was “Harnessing the Positive Contribution of South-South Cooperation for Development of the Least Developed Countries”, and it was organized to “foster and further strengthen mutually reinforcing development partnership, solidarity and commitment” in advance of the 4th UN-LDC Conference due to be held in Istanbul in May. With ministers from 49 countries, thirty three in Africa, delegates issued a Delhi Declaration calling for the Istanbul conference to produce a plan of action for at least 50% of LDCs to reach the threshold of graduation by 2020. The ministers noted with concern that the number of LDCs had increased from 25 in 1971 to 48 in 2011. Indeed, India’s Minister of External Affairs reminded the ministers that only three countries had graduated from LDC status. The pace of progress, he said, was unacceptable; it was time to put the cause of LDC’s “on a war footing”.
In their declaration the ministers itemized the key development challenges for LDCs: addressing extreme poverty, building productive capacity, spurring economic growth, enhancing participation in international trade and building resilience against vulnerabilities. They underscored the fact that the interconnected and globalized world made it essential for the international community to give the highest priority to LDCs, to ensure international peace, security and prosperity. Equally, the ministers noted that the High Level UN Conference in Nairobi, the Marrakech Framework and the Yamoussoukro Consensus created a comprehensive basis for continuing efforts to promote South-South cooperation. They called for an early conclusion to the Doha trade round to allow for meaningful integration of LDCs into the world trading network, expressed deep concern over global food security and food price volatility, appealed for the creation of a framework for debt sustainability, recognized the major threat of climate change and called for the immediate disbursement of the fast start funds agreed at Cancun to the LDCs.
In his own statement to the conference, Ato Hailemariam pointed out that the meeting was taking place at an historically critical period in the evolution of South-South cooperation. Noting that India was one of the countries in which LDCs place confidence and trust, he emphasized that LDCs had shown over the last decade that they had the capacity to register growth (an average GDP growth of 7% between 2002 and 2008) though this welcome trend had, as India’s Prime Minister noted, been halting, uneven and fragile. It had been interrupted by the recent global food, financial and economic crises, developments over which the LDCs had no control. Ato Hailemariam stressed that at the end of the day LDCs, like all other countries, had to assume full responsibility for their own development. Some indeed were doing so. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister said that as Ethiopia could witness in recent years China and India had had an enormous, significant and positive impact in Africa. This had meant real progress in addressing some of the major impediments to economic development of LDCs, including low levels of productive capacity, infrastructure, market access and food security. Africa’s partnership with newly emerging countries in fact had opened up new possibilities for development.
Ato Hailemariam suggested that this was an opportune moment for the 4th UN Conference on LDCs to put in place a new system of international support for LDCs to assist these countries to bring about structural transformation. There had been progress but much remained to be done to allow LDCs to benefit from trade, FDI, development finance and the transfer of technology available in the context of South-South cooperation and North-South relations. It was very clear that none of the major problems facing the world could be handled by individual countries or even groups of countries without taking the input of others into consideration. Climate change, for example, required genuine international cooperation. LDCs needed the reduction of tension and minimization of rivalry. The conference in May would allow LDCs, in cooperation with development partners, to chart a course for development for the next decade. It would draw up commitments which might allow many LDCs the opportunity to graduate from this group by the end of the decade. But it would require the major commitment of the international community as well as the efforts of all LDCs. It was in this spirit, he said, that Ethiopia had embarked on a five year Growth and Transformation Plan which depended for success upon the commitment of its entire people and the effective cooperation of its development partners. The Deputy Prime Minister stressed that the country was hopeful that “we would not be disappointed”.
Meanwhile, this week, President Pratibha Patil of India announced that the second India-Africa Forum Summit would be held in Addis Ababa in May. As the first such initiative in Africa by India, it was, she said, a measure of the special place Africa enjoys in the hearts of the people of India. The first India-Africa Summit was held in New Delhi in April 2008, and building on this in March last year, India and Africa launched an action plan to focus on capacity building and human resource development in Africa. Twenty one training institutes are being set up including the India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade in Uganda, the India-Africa Institute of Information Technology in Ghana, the India-Africa Diamond Institute in Botswana and the India-Africa Institute of Education, Planning and Administration in Burundi. India’s current level of bilateral trade with Africa is estimated at around US$40 billion but is expected to increase significantly after Indian companies increase their investment as they are expected to do after the Summit in May.
A Parliamentary delegation from Germany
A high-level German delegation from the Budget Committee of the Federal Parliament of Germany paid an official visit to Ethiopia from February 12th to 16th. During their visit the delegation met with Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, the Chief of Staff, General Samora Yonus, and with representatives of both Houses of Parliament.
The delegation also had a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, on Monday, February 14th. During extensive discussions, held in the Foreign Ministry and focusing on wide-ranging bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest, the Deputy Prime Minister recalled the longstanding, cordial and smooth relations between Ethiopia and Germany. He thanked German leaders for the interest shown in Ethiopia through repeated visits, and noted that the bilateral cooperation has always been based on understanding and mutual respect.
Ato Hailemariam emphasized that current projects being undertaken with German financial assistance in such areas as Engineering Capacity Building (ECBP), Technical and Vocational and Educational Programs (TVET), Sustainable Land Management (SLM) and other environmental protection activities, were highly commendable and were major priorities for the Ethiopian Government. He hoped they could be scaled up further. The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister briefed the delegation on the Government’s commitment to realize the new five year Growth and Transformation Plan, and he expressed his belief that future cooperation with Germany will provide an immense contribution to the success of the Plan. Referring to potential investment opportunities in Ethiopia, Ato Hailemariam emphasized that labour-intensive industrial investments in textile, leather, cement, chemical and pharmaceutical, and agro-processing industries were now the country’s main focus. He called on German investors to focus more on these sectors. He also briefed the delegation on the current political and security situation in the Horn of Africa with particular emphasis on current developments in the Sudan. Underlining the importance of active German participation in the region, Ato Hailemariam urged the German Government to provide more political, diplomatic and financial assistance as these were all vital components to help maintain peace and security in the region.
In turn, the visiting delegation noted that the Federal Republic of Germany and Ethiopia had a long history of good relations and solidarity. The delegation expressed its satisfaction with the regular political consultations conducted by high level officials from the respective Foreign Ministries. The delegation reiterated its readiness to continue to support Ethiopia in the areas of education, investment promotion and peace and security in the context of supporting Ethiopia’s effort to realize the new five year Growth and Transformation Plan.
During its visit the German delegation also visited the Mulugeta Buli Technical College at Holeta which was founded 50 years ago with financial and technical assistance from the German Government. Germany has recently allocated close to 5 million Euros to the college’s ongoing expansion program covering the years 2010-2012. This followed a financing agreement signed between the college and the German government in August last year.
The delegation met with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission H.E. Jean Ping on Monday, participating in the laying of the foundation stone for the new, German financed, Peace and Security Building at the African Union. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, attended the ceremony as a guest of honour.
CEWARN holds a “best practices” workshop in Hawassa
IGAD, in collaboration with GIZ-Germany, has held a three-day dialogue workshop on “best practices” for local response strategies to conflict at the beginning of the week in Hawassa in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region. The three day meeting (20th -22nd February) was organized by IGAD’s Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN). It brought together community-level peace actors as well as government and non-government stakeholders from the cross-border areas of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda to share their views of “best practices“ of local response strategies that have proved successful in mitigating and preventing cross-border pastoral and other related conflicts.
The meeting was opened by the President of the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region, Ato Shiferaw Shegute, who stressed the importance of peace and security for sustainable development. The President pointed out the number of efforts being undertaken by federal and regional institutions to develop a mechanism for early warning systems modelled on CEWARN to prevent and address conflicts in pastoral and other areas in a timely and effective manner. He also noted that the government’s five-year Growth and Transformation Plan involved significant elements devoted to improvement of the livelihood of pastoralists. It emphasizes the expansion of infrastructure and of social services coverage as well as undertaking large scale irrigation and development projects.
The workshop provided a forum for provincial administration officials from the different areas of CEWARN’s operation as well as for representatives of CEWARN local peace committees and civil society organizations to present and discuss selected case-based experiences. The aim was to strengthen the capacity of local-level peace actors and enhance the effectiveness of their interventions. Numerous “best practices” in local response strategies were also presented.
Ethiopia’s CEWERU presented an account of the developments and “best practices” that have brought about significant improvements in peace and security along the Ethio-Kenya border areas. This included details of the community-owned and government-backed peace processes in the border areas of Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya, involving the removal of anti-peace elements along the common border. These elements had been identified by local communities as one of the most serious obstacles to peace and stability in the area.
Given CEWARN continuing efforts to play an instrumental role in supporting national and cross-border peace-building efforts, the Ethiopian Government is, of course, continuing to support the CEWARN mechanism, to ensure full implementation of the CEWARN Protocol.
Gilgel Gibe III’s detractors continue their campaign
Ethiopia sometimes appears to be a magnet for criticism. It’s not just the all-too-often occasions when self-styled human rights activists feel like a bit of Ethiopia-bashing, but it even happens when it is involved in highly productive development projects that will impact positively on the lives of millions of people. The government’s decision to lease out millions of hectares of inaccessible uncultivated land to foreign investors is characterized as a conspiracy against its own people; hydroelectric dams become attacks on the traditional way of life.
The Gilgel Gibe III hydroelectric dam, under construction on the Omo River, in south west Ethiopia is apparently one such, and has been the target of such an attack. Previously a series of documentaries aired on the BBC and other international media outlets painted lurid tales of potentially serious catastrophes in the making with claims that the project threatened the environment as well as the livelihood and the lives of local populations. The stories and the conclusions drawn were alarmist at best and at worst were apparently aimed to scuttle Ethiopia’s development efforts. There were repeated references to unnamed ‘experts in the field’ to try to lend scientific credibility to the claim that the Gilgel Gibe III project lacked an appropriate environmental assessment study or that the Economic Impact Assessment Report by the Ethiopian Government was unacceptable. One of the leaders of the campaign in Kenya, Mr. Richard Leakey, even brought together a group of experts calling itself the African Resources Working Group (ARWG) to produce a hastily prepared report. The group wasn’t even prepared to disclose names: “because of the political sensitivities involved in conducting professional work within the region, members of ARWG have chosen to withhold their identities”. The campaign went some way towards dissuading potential financiers from commitment to the project, but despite the concerted campaign the project went ahead as scheduled.
Now, another attempt is being made by the so-called ‘Friends of Lake Turkana’ and International Rivers. Conspicuously missing this time is the AWRG and Mr. Leaky, though there is every reason to believe that the ‘Friends of Lake Turkana’ is to all intents and purposes, the handiwork of Mr. Leakey. This latest chapter in the anti-Gilgel Gibe III saga began with a demonstration in Nairobi organized by the ‘Friends of Lake Turkana’. The usual allegations, that that the dam was a conspiracy against Lake Turkana and its fishing community, was highlighted to show how destructive the dam was. According to representatives of the demonstrators, “if built, the dam would destroy the fragile ecosystems of the Lower Omo Valley” and the Lake Turkana region. The demonstrators added that “all government agencies, banks and companies must respect and uphold basic human rights and environmental standards in the projects they pursue.” They referred to the project changing “the traditional ways of life” of local communities” within Ethiopia. Wolfgang Thome of International Rivers even went so far as to warn the Ethiopian government that going ahead with the Gibe III project would risk creating “further hotspots of discontent to those they already have”, a not too-subtle threat about what the campaigners might be prepared to do if their campaign falls through.
Ethiopia, in fact, has a government that takes its obligations to its peoples very seriously. It is a government that is prepared to do anything to see that the socio-economic problems that have beset its peoples for centuries should be addressed, and in rapid and sustainable manner. For projects such as Gilgel Gibe III, the only consideration is not the generation of income or of power. Even more important is the potential impact on the environment and on the people of the area. The Ethiopian Government considers these aspects, not because it has to adhere to some ecological or scientific fad, but because it takes the protection of the environment very seriously. In this particular case, what is under construction is not just a diversion of the river, or an irrigation project. As Prime Minister Meles defined it, apart from the potential of the project in terms of generating power and foreign currency, “it [also] enables us to store water and regulate the flooding downstream in the Omo River.”
The government of Ethiopia and the government of Kenya have consistently been open and forthright about the environmental implications of the project. There has been no significant difference over the anticipated usefulness of the project. In fact, what appears to have irked the lobbyists behind this campaign is that the government of Kenya is fully on board not because it is involved in a conspiracy with the Ethiopian government as the campaigners suggest, but because the project has far-reaching significance for the two countries’ efforts to produce economic development for their peoples. As one Kenyan minister aptly put it, “Gilgel Gibe will brighten, not threaten” the future of the two countries.
The latest article by the International Rivers group actually suggests what the real motives behind the campaign might be. It claims that environmentalists and conservationists alike have criticised the plan: “the Turkana area is also home to archaeological digs undertaken by the Leakey family with finds of early mankind”. Similarly, it points out that not only will some local communities within Ethiopia be displaced, but their “the traditional way of life” will also be taken away. This is apparently the real problem – the traditional way of life will be destroyed. In fact, whatever benefits the project might have, it should not be allowed to change the life styles of the people in the region. Or to put it another way perhaps, those people living so precariously on the edge should continue to do so, in order that ‘scholars’ with an interest in exotic cultures can continue to write their esoteric studies. Nothing, in fact, could be more insulting to the people in whose name this campaign is being waged. It would be overly cynical to suggest that this is all there is to the campaign, and the fact that coverage of the recent demonstration in Nairobi was decidedly ideological might even suggest more sinister motives at work. The one thing that is certain, however, is that the campaign has nothing to do with the interests of the peoples living in the Omo valley or around Lake Turkana, or indeed of the peoples of Ethiopia and Kenya more generally.
Core Principles of Ethiopian Foreign Policy: Ethio-UN relations
Ethiopia is a founding member of numerous international organizations which formulate laws that affect inter-state relations and serve as forums to oversee respect for the rules which govern international engagement. As clearly stated in its Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy document, it is the conviction of the Ethiopian government that international organizations play an irreplaceable role in ensuring peace and the primacy of international law as well as in strengthening cooperation between countries. It is these same organizations that have also provided the forums in which Ethiopia has been playing by the rules in the present globalized world. This is where Ethiopia, along with other countries in similar conditions, takes into account the rules of the international game as well as the interests of others.
Ethiopia’s role in, and cooperation with, the United Nations is one pre-eminent element of the country’s engagement with international organizations. Ethiopia is one of the only two African founding members of the United Nations Organization set up following the end of the Second World War; the other being Liberia. And ever since the creation of the UN, Ethiopia has been committed to the organization. The principle of collective security at the heart of the UN charter has particular significance for Ethiopia as this was seen as an improvement on the failed attempts of the League of Nations to bring world peace. The League of Nations of which Ethiopia was also a member was of course the organization that preceded the UN, and history remembers the failure of the League of Nations to live up to its obligations when Ethiopia was attacked by fascist Italy in the run up to the Second World War. Emperor Haile Selassie’s famous speech admonishing the League for its failure to assist Ethiopia was later to haunt many in the international community. This indeed was one of the major reasons behind the adoption of collective security and the cooperation that formed the basis of the UN charter.
Ethiopia is not only a founding member of the UN, it is also a signatory of and a party to numerous declarations, conventions and protocols produced under the auspices of the United Nations. It has consistently discharged its obligations to these and to the UN Charter. One area which has seen notable Ethiopian involvement and cooperation with the UN has been participation in UN-led operations to ensure collective security as well as peacekeeping operations under varying mandates. Ethiopia’s first significant participation came in early 1950 with the Korean War during which an Ethiopian army contingent, the Kagnew Shaleqa, played a heroic role under UN command, winning great praise and honour. The professionalism and gallantry with which the Ethiopian forces discharged their mission during the war left a lasting legacy for the country’s relations with the peoples of Korea and it has been the source of pride for its own people.
Ethiopia’s participation in the Korean War was borne out of its commitment to the principle of collective security enshrined in the UN Charter. In similar vein, Ethiopia also participated in the UN mission to Congo in the 1960s where Ethiopian forces displayed a similar level of professionalism and commitment to the UN cause. The role the Ethiopian forces played in Congo was even more important than in Korea, as it gave the people of Congo a measure of confidence in the UN with the forces of a fellow African country playing a peacekeeping role for their protection and care. Indeed, with so many African countries still trying to escape from the yoke of colonialism at that time, the existence of an African contingent in a UN operation in an African country was a source of pride in its own right.
Continuing in the same tradition of African solidarity, professionalism and decency, Ethiopia was one of the first countries to respond positively to the UN’s call for peacekeeping forces in Rwanda following the 1994 genocide. Its forces played an exemplary role there in helping the people and government of Rwanda in their efforts to ensure peace and stability and to rebuild their country after the devastating civil war which saw the death of millions of Rwandans in a span of only a few weeks. Ethiopian forces in addition to their traditional commitment to the principles of the UN Charter displayed a genuine camaraderie and friendship with the peoples of Rwanda earning them deep respect from the peoples and government of Rwanda. This commitment to UN principles and African solidarity was repeated during similar operations in Burundi and the ongoing peacekeeping operation in Liberia and Darfur.
These aren’t in fact the only areas in which Ethiopia cooperates with the UN on security issues. Ethiopia is actively working with the UN and the AU and IGAD on a range of conflict situations in Africa. Somalia is a case in point. Similarly, Ethiopia has also been working closely with the UN to help ensure that referendum and post-referendum issues in the Sudan work out in a manner to provide for lasting peace in the region. Ethiopia also continues to cooperate with UN concerns over the regional destabilizing activities of the government of Eritrea. Cooperation in all these areas will continue as long as there is any need to act together on these issues.
Ethiopia cooperates with the UN on other matters as well. The UN and its specialized agencies, and institutions such as the UNDP, provide important assistance to Ethiopia’s development. The presence in Ethiopia of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as well as other UN institutions facilitates interaction and cooperation between the government and the UN. The UN is Ethiopia’s partner in its campaigns against AIDS and malaria as well as in its efforts to achieve food security. Another area in which the two work closely together is climate change. The government of Ethiopia is keenly aware of the devastating effects of climate change and of the pivotal role the UN could play in creating a common platform through which an internationally accepted and legally binding agreement can be reached by the countries of the world. The role Prime Minister Meles has been playing, and continues to play in this regard, in cooperation with UN authorities is exemplary.
Ethiopia has a lot to gain by its cooperation with the UN and indeed it has already gained a significant amount. But Ethiopia also believes there are a number of areas in which reform is required to further invigorate the UN’s role in addressing challenges in world security, climate change and the economic problems that face all humanity. Indeed, Ethiopia believes that the voice of Africa in the UN and its institutions such as the Security Council deserves to be heard more prominently. It has accordingly been strongly supportive of a permanent seat for Africa in the UN Security Council. As the only supra-national organization enjoying the membership of virtually the entire world, the United Nations is far better placed than any other body to effectively address the challenges that face humanity today. Ethiopia firmly supports the belief that the UN will be able to organize itself for the serious and complicated tasks that lie ahead of us all. That is why Ethiopia will continue to strengthen its cooperation with the UN and with its specialized agencies, to help to speed up development, to protect its national security, and to work for peace and respect for international law in the Horn of Africa and globally.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs