United Nations General Assembly budget committee on Thursday voted on an Ethiopian push to block funding for an independent investigation into abuses in the country’s conflict.
The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva established the inquiry in December to collect evidence and identify those responsible for abuses with a view to future prosecutions.
Ethiopia vowed not to cooperate, describing the move pushed by the Western states as “politically motivated.”
The 193-member U.N. General Assembly in New York had to approve funding for the investigation by a three-member panel of experts.
The vote was on an Ethiopian-drafted resolution to deny funding.
Louis Charbonneau, Human Rights Watch U.N. director, and Lucy McKernan, Human Rights Watch deputy U.N. director in Geneva urged U.N. member states to reject the Ethiopian move.
“Governments concerned about the many victims of atrocities and other crimes in Ethiopia should get the commission up and running, fully funded, as soon as possible.’’
War broke out 16 months ago between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the Tigray region.
Fighting spread in 2021 from Tigray into the neighboring Amhara and Afar regions before the rebellious Tigray forces were pushed back.
In November a joint investigation by the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and the U.N rights office found that all sides in Tigray’s conflict had committed violations that may amount to war crimes.
Ethiopia’s U.N. ambassador, Taye Atske Selassie Amde, told Reuters on Wednesday that the move by the Human Rights Council to establish the new inquiry “completely undermined” the joint investigation efforts.
“The Human Rights Council is misused to advance a biased political agenda of others who believe that African national Human Rights organizations are not capable to investigate human rights violations and make accountability violators.’’