By Keffyalew Gebremedhin – The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)
It should certainly be obvious to any student of global affairs that Ethiopia is badly in need of membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The TPLF-led regime, known for its brutality even amongst its bankrollers, realizes that its image is badly in need of heavy dose of mending via treatment only a seat at the Council avails.
At the same time, when the global level of threats from terrorism is mounting and the Security Council is in need of strong and wiser nations, dedicated to the principles of the Charter, certainly the first choice would not be Ethiopia under the present regime, especially following the wave of bloody crackdowns and killings of pregnant women, as well as children – one of its many commissions in a series – which lately has claimed the lives of over 200 high school and university students demanding their rights in Oromia regional state.
Moreover, note should be taken that instability is visibly creeping in the country. If longstanding UN practices on the selection of UNSC members, derived from the Charter itself, are to be applied those cruel actions and the impunity the world has noticed can be adjudged a violation of every principle in the Charter of the United Nations.
That, therefore, disqualifies the TPLF regime from seeking and finding a seat in the Security Council. It means that it is incapable of shouldering responsibilities having to do within the effective and judicious maintenance of international peace and security, a function the Charter has assigned to the members of the Council.
Ethiopia has twice served two terms on the Security Council, one in the 1960s and the other in late 1980s. The first time, Ethiopia stepped in the Security Council as a member, the national delegation was headed by none other than the bright Oxford-educated Endalkachew Mekonnen, whose performance reportedly had him touted as candidate to the post of secretary-general of the United Nations, before the post was given to Kurt Waldheim.
Ato Endalkachew proved a stalwart son of Africa, whose ideas of isolating apartheid South Africa found traction internationally over time as well as dislodging Pretoria from South West Africa, today’s Namibia, a mandate of League of Nations, passed on to South Africa, which finally was about to be returned into the UN trusteeship.
In the late 1980’s, Ethiopia joined the Security Council as the ferment of change in South Africa had reached its final stages. Ethiopia joined others in helping to finalize Namibia’s independence, as the crumbling of the racist system proceeded in our own very eyes and Nelson Mandela’s release was in the pipeline by early 1990s.
Service to whom?
Officials of the TPLF-led Ethiopian regime, from the Man in the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office down to those in the party structures started tap dancing Tuesday 1st of February 2008 – Ethiopian calendar, that is February 9, 2016. They were praising the recognition of Ethiopia’s role and contributions to regional and international peace and development, which ended up now awarding the country its selection as candidate to join the (UNSC) on behalf of Ethiopia as non-permanent member for two-year term beginning 2017.
Equally busy were the scribblers, putting on the media the usual tasteless propaganda, pungent to the ear, and a part of the celebration of the regime’s success in diplomatic horse trading at the African Group level.
In keeping with Africa’s practice in managing the candidatures of 54 nations in both within the African Union bodies and the United Nations system, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU), which met at its 26th session in Addis Abeba at the end of January 2016, has also approved Ethiopian candidacy.
What happens between now and the final stages is then in the hands of other regional groups that would decide at the resumed 70th session of the UN General Assembly in June 2016.
Ethiopia pulled this off primarily with Addis Abeba and Nairobi realizing that the wheels of fortune would not be in Kenya’s favor, given its presidency is tainted with ICC indictments, both at the level of the number one and number two persons. During the campaigning, a couple of friendly nations to Kenya had made it clear that they would encourage it to be done with the International Criminal Court (ICC) before casting its eye in the direction of UNSC membership.
Some noted individuals had also made Nairobi’s UNSC candidature the subject of feature articles that alleged, if Kenya were to join the UNSC, its mission would be plan and plot how to dismantle and bury the ICC. For that, it would have to use the Council’s forum, which they pointed out, would not be in the interest of other nations within that body who believe that body’s primary duty is the maintenance of international peace and security.
It should also be noted that, participating in the work of the 26th AU Summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded African governments and their citizens, the ICC is “the ultimate guarantor of accountability for the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” referring the court “an ally for African victims of these most heinous crimes.”
The discussion amongst African leaders, meaning the conversation on ICC often takes a different tone. Thirty years in power and still a candidate in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni leaked secret conversation with President Kenyatta the rationale of inviting Pope Francis to visit Kenya and Uganda a few months ago. He tweeted, “Kenyatta and I deliberately invited the Pope in order for him to help us escape from Rome Statute, I’m happy AU supports the move!”
No evidence is needed wbo the African dictators in power serve, as well as the African Union as a regional organization.
The Seychelles’ frustrated dream
In the case of the Seychelles, an island of 90,000 inhabitants, which has not served at all on the Security Council, its over three-year old interest and campaign that started in 2012 was easily scuttled by the two regional ‘superpowers’, that simply elbowed it out. However, we know that the Seychelles had maintained its candidacy at least until the summer of 2015.
In fact, it was also endorsed in July 2015 as Africa’s candidate by the 17th meeting of the Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Of this mistreatment, the country’s Foreign Affairs and Transport Minister Joël Morgan related to the AU summit on January 31, 2016 that it was informed “there was a previous standing agreement within our region, though undocumented, which firmly placed Ethiopia as the candidate for East Africa for this rotation.”
Discernible as the Seychelles’ frustration was from the statement, although emphasizing the importance of principle, rotation and gentlemanly conduct, the minister urged others this to be the governing practice and standard to be applied when it is the Seychelles’ turn:
“So while we remain firm in our support of the principles of rotation as being sacrosanct to our institution, and that those who have not served before should be given the opportunity to do so, we also recognised the need here for gentlemanly conduct. Therefore it is in recognition of Ethiopia’s previous agreement, and our principles of gentlemanly conduct that we have withdrawn our bid in favour of Ethiopia, and we have done so with the provision that Seychelles reserves the right to be the preferred candidate the next time the seat comes to the East Africa Region.”
The Seychelles responded to TEO’s call in may article of January 8, mentioned above. Therefore, on January 13, 2016, the Seychelles confirmed its withdrawal, pointing out, it did that “in favor of Ethiopia“, indicating it would explain its rationale at the AU Summit in Addis Abeba, which it did.
Yes, the Seychelles explained what happened, its tone betraying an unaspirated sense of being cheated out!
In spite of this scenario, TEO remains of the persuasion that there is role of the Ethiopian Airlines flights to the ‘pleasure island’, dependent as the island is on tourism, an offer by Ethiopia as part of the deal.
The Kenya conundrum
Although ICC on March 13, 2015 announced that the case against President Kenyatta is withdrawn, the Court has made it clear that this is no indication of exoneration or innocence. The Trial Chamber (V(B) decision (No.: ICC-01/09-02/11) in paragraph 9 states the case “would be open to the Prosecution to bring ‘new charges against the accused at a later date, based on the same or similar factual circumstances, should it obtain sufficient evidence to support such a course of action.'”
Ethiopia and Kenya’s actions have been dictated by their national interests and problems, which diplomacy is called upon to mediate the end result. The deal between the two nations is for Kenya to withdraw its Security Council bid. It gets Ethiopia to pledge to dig the ICC’s death and burial from the Council Chamber working with other members.
This approach is forced upon Nairobi, as mentioned in my previous article, due to the imperatives of the 2017 national election.
The electorate in some parts of the country, for instance, in the Rift Valley are blaming the Kenyan president of dragging his feet on his vice-president’s ICC-indictment, after he got off the hook.
It now appears that the Kenya government has abandoned its interest in a seat in the UNSC, although I have not come across any official statement.
It means that it may have decided the hatchet job against the ICC to be done by the TPLF regime from both within the African Union and the UNSC membership. In the meantime, there may be exploratory efforts to carry out the vice-president’s trial within Kenya, if that works for the ICC and its laws.
In my two articles on Ethiopia’s sole candidacy from the East Africa Bloc for a seat predicated on the ‘quiet’ withdrawal by Kenya and early on by Seychelles too of their bids remains troubling to me, because of impropriety of what has happened, I mean, the shady job and sort of diplomatic horse-trading.
Of course, the matter now is fait accompli, after the Ethiopian candidacy has received Africa’s imprimatur as one of its three representatives on the Council.
Consequently, what remains behind is the damaged credibility of Africa and its regional organization, which has made it clear on so many occasions in recent years it kowtows the line drawn by dictators.
Therefore, those nations that have the best interests at heart and mind for the future of the international system should pay serious attention to the problems discussed regarding candidature in this article.
I should be frank enough to state that Africa, working within the AU framework, might even someday give its endorsement to the candidatures of long gone enemies of civilization and humanity. In that sense, the AU is not sane. Nor is it a functional organization.
If the above is false or wrong, would AU’s candidature committee have forwarded Burundi and Ethiopia to become members of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which were voted in on October 18, 2015?
Isn’t this scary?