Open Letter to His Excellency Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the General Assembly
Open Letter to HE Volkan Bozkir, asking for the 75th session of the General Assembly to pass a resolution on the Humanitarian Crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia.
Re: UN General Assembly Resolution on the Humanitarian Crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia
Since the launch of the brutal genocidal war on Tigray on 4 November 2020, the United Nations has confirmed ethnically targeted mass killings, ethnic profiling, discrimination, sexual and gender-based violence as a weapon of war, as well as hunger as a weapon of war against millions of civilians in Tigray.
On 24 April, the Security Council issued a statement calling for “international relief efforts in a manner consistent with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance, including humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence”. However, as revealed by the Secretary-General in his briefing to the Security Council on 26 August, “the Tigray region remains largely under a de facto humanitarian blockade and cut off from key public services such as electricity and communications”.
Although the United Nations Security Council has discussed the crisis in Tigray several times already and been briefed on the terrible humanitarian tragedy that is unfolding, this body has unfortunately been unable to act to help the people of Tigray because of political deadlock.
As a result, today, more than 2 million people have been displaced from their homes, and millions more are in immediate need of life-saving humanitarian assistance. At least 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions; 100,000 children face life‑threatening severe acute malnutrition over the next 12 months. Refugee camps have been destroyed. Health-care systems have been decimated, with hospitals and clinics attacked and looted. This has all been exacerbated by electricity and communications blackouts
In the absence of robust Security Council action, it falls to the General Assembly to adopt a resolution condemning the human rights violations; calling for the withdrawal of foreign forces, an end to the de-facto humanitarian blockade, a peaceful resolution to the conflict; and calling on all UN Member States to halt arms transfers to Ethiopia.
While not legally binding on states, such a resolution would carry significant political weight and demonstrate the united will of the world to halt one of the worst humanitarian crises seen in decades. Such a message from the UN’s most representative body would also send a powerful signal to the Ethiopian Government to adhere to international humanitarian laws and encourage members of the Security Council to adopt a legally binding resolution.
With this in mind, we call on the president of the United Nations General Assembly to support and encourage council members that already showed a willingness to support a peaceful resolution to the crisis with the preparation of a draft resolution calling for:
- unrestricted humanitarian access to all areas in a manner consistent with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance, including humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence — and fully re-establishing public services;
- permanent and immediate withdrawal of Eritrean Defense Forces from Tigray, in keeping with United Nations Human Right Council resolution 47/13;
- a halt to arms sales, since materials sold to Ethiopia’s military, particularly armed drones, will likely be used to intensify the conflict and commit abuses against the population. Arms embargoes can help prevent such crimes and disincentivize further escalation of armed confrontation; and
- negotiated and permanent ceasefire.
We also ask Your Excellency, to schedule a vote on this draft resolution as soon as possible, considering the urgency of the crisis.
Many members of the Security Council have called for peaceful resolution of the conflict aligned with most of the above points. Other governments should support their efforts to ensure a resolution is developed and a vote is scheduled as soon as possible.
We urge that the General Assembly desists from deferring this issue to “regional authorities”, such as the African Union, which would be tantamount to shirking the duties of this august body particularly since it is known that the African Union is built on the principle of noninterference and singularly handicapped from delivering on Tigray because of the undue influence the Ethiopian government has over it. We ask instead that the secretariat support and apply diplomacy to engage members to ensure a robust resolution receives support.
Inaction will only embolden further ethnically targeted human rights abuses, killings, exacerbate the famine and human suffering: United Nations Member States must send a united and clear message on Tigray.
Tigrayans in the Diaspora
HE Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason
President of the Security Council for August
HE Antonio Guterres
Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN)