A Week in the Horn

22 Sep 2017

 

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Africa and the African Union

The 72nd annual debate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 72) convened at UN Headquarters this week on Tuesday (September 19). This year’s theme is, “Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”. The General Debate this week and next week covers discussion of the world’s most urgent issues including climate change, famine, international security, and prevention and mediation to sustain peace, migration, sustainable development and human rights. The Assembly also provides for numerous side meetings and bilateral discussions. (See article)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), in a special meeting held on Wednesday (September 20), unanimously approved the draft resolution on the reform of United Nations peacekeeping tabled by Ethiopia. The debate attracted dozens of Heads of State and Government and Ministers and more than 70 countries registered to speak. Peacekeeping reform has been one of the most important priorities of Ethiopia’s presidency of the Security Council this month. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. (See article)

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was opened for signing in New York on Wednesday (September 20). UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres praised the commitment to the cause of nuclear disarmament and to the safety and security of the world. He said it was “an important step towards the universally held goal of a world free of nuclear weapons” and a “milestone” along the hard road towards the elimination of nuclear arsenals.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) brought together international investors and business leaders on Monday (September 18) in New York for the launch of its 5% Agenda campaign. The campaign stresses that a collaborative public-private approach is necessary to provide the funds needed to bridge Africa’s infrastructural gap and calls for allocations of institutional investors to African infrastructure to be increased to the declared 5% mark. (See article)

 

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn met Mr Mark Lowcock, the Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and Emergency Relief Coordinator on Monday (September 18). The Prime Minister briefed Mr Lowcock on the Humanitarian situation in the country and the region.

Prime Minister Hailemariam participated at the Japan-Africa Security Council members’ meeting on Monday (September 18), when current and incoming African members of the Security Council convened to discuss peace and security issues in the Korean Peninsula and Japan’s support for the African Peace and Security architecture.

Prime Minister Hailemariam met with President of Finland, Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, on Tuesday (September 19). Discussions covered economic cooperation, migration and the management of refugees and aspects of regional peace and stability.

On Wednesday (September 20), Prime Minister Hailemariam was one of the nine African Heads of State or Government at a working lunch with US President Trump. (See article)

Prime Minister Hailemariam met with Danish Prime Minister, Mr Lars Løkke Rasmussen, on Wednesday (September 20) and discussed ways of forging a partnership in the joint launch of the new global initiative ‘Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G)’.

Prime Minister Hailemariam participated at a side-line event organized by the United Nations Industrial Development organization (UNIDO) on Thursday (September 21) in relation to the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa that highlighted the industrial transformation in Ethiopia.

Prime Minister Hailemariam held bilateral talks with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre on Thursday (September 21) The Somali Prime Minister commended Ethiopia’s tireless support to the Government and people of Somalia. He said his government would not allow anyone to destabilize Ethiopia as the two countries’ destiny is intertwined. The two prime ministers underscored the need for working together on Horn of Africa integration. They exchanged views on their joint commission, expected to be held next month.

Prime Minister Hailemariam met the Chairman of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill Gates on Thursday (September 21), to discuss facilitating a joint review and planning of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), with a focus on the implementation of the 2014 AU Malabo Declaration for agricultural transformation in Africa.

Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn held discussions with elders and religious leaders and officials from both Oromia and the Ethiopian Somali Regional States at the weekend. Expressing his deep sorrow over the loss of lives, the Prime Minister said the government would do its best to rehabilitate those displaced, and called on all stakeholders to assist the government’s efforts to resolve the dispute between the regional states. The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission will investigate human rights violations and those responsible will be brought to justice.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, conferred with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Dr Ibrahim Ghandour on Wednesday (September 20), when he stressed the need to facilitate the release of Ethiopian nationals who have been detained in Khartoum, in a number of cases, and work on their repatriation to Ethiopia.

Dr Workneh chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council on Thursday (September 21) on Threats to International Peace and Security. The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2379 (2017) on ensuring accountability of members of ISIL/Da’esh for the crimes committed in Iraq. (See article)

Dr Workneh met with the U.K. Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Mr Rory Stewart on Thursday (September 21) on the side-lines of the United Nations General Assembly for talks on regional issues of peace and security, including Somalia and South Sudan.

Dr Workneh held bilateral talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on Thursday (September 21) and discussed bilateral and regional issues of mutual interest. Dr Workneh called on Egyptian companies to invest in Ethiopia.

Dr Negeri Lencho, the Government Communications Office Minister, along with international and national media representatives, attended the opening of Al-Jazeera’s office in Addis Ababa last week (September 15). Manager Mohammed Taha Tewekel said Al-Jazeera would expand its coverage of Africa in general and East Africa in particular; reporting from Addis Ababa, the diplomatic hub of Africa and home to the AU, it would cover African cultural news as well as its usual political and development news.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene speaking at a High-Level Ministerial Meeting on the Central African Republic on the margins of the 72nd ordinary session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, in New York on Wednesday (September 20) called on the international community to work to bring lasting peace and stability to the country.

State Minister, Mrs Hirut spoke at a High-Level Meeting on Somalia, hosted by Somalia, Ethiopia, Italy and the United Kingdom on Thursday (September 21) on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly. The meeting was attended by the UN Secretary General, African Union Commissioner, IGAD Executive Secretary and EU High Representative and Vice President plus 27 other international partners. (See article)

State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Aklilu Hailemichael, met with Ambassador Anurag Srivastava, India’s Ambassador to Ethiopia on Tuesday (September 19) for talks on strengthening bilateral relations related to trade and investment. Dr Aklilu emphasized Ethiopia’s strong dedication to strengthen and deepen its strategic partnership and cooperation with India. President Ram Nath Kovind is due to make a state visit to Ethiopia next month.

State Minister Dr Aklilu held discussions with Ambassador of the Republic of Seychelles, David Pierre, on Tuesday (September 19) and called on Seychellois investors to exploit the huge resources, affordable labour and investment schemes Ethiopia offers.

Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ethiopia, Ms Maureen Achieng met with State Minister Dr Aklilu on Thursday (September 21). She said the IOM was undertaking nationality verifications for Ethiopian nationals in Yemen with the view to facilitating their safe repatriation to Ethiopia.

Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, advisor to Prime Minister Hailemariam, addressed a High-level ministerial meeting on Mali on Wednesday (September 20). It was also attended by the UN Secretary-General; the African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat; the High Representative and Vice President of the European Union, Ms Federica Mogherini; and the President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. (See article)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said last week that donor commitments to meeting the needs of the 852,721 refugees registered in Ethiopia at the end of August were being seriously affected by other international crises. Only US$252 million out of the US$ 335 million requested for refugee needs between January and August had been raised. Ethiopia received an additional 72,890 refugees in the first 8 months of this year. Of these, 44,000 came from South Sudan, 17,000 from Eritrea and 6,400 from Somalia.

The Director of Ethiopian Investment Commission said this week that private investment from China to Ethiopia in 2017 had reached over US $680 million, more than the US$560 million registered investment capital last year. This was the single largest FDI source for Ethiopia in 2016. The majority of this, over 67%, was invested in the manufacturing sector, with the rest in different sectors, including real estate, construction, mining and health.

The Ethiopian Investment Commission has reported that the Hawassa, Bole Lemi and Eastern Zone industrial parks generated US$248 million from the export of various products last fiscal year. Commissioner Fitsum Arega said the Hawassa Industrial Park generated US$200 million and the Bole Lemi and Eastern Industrial Zone US$24 million each. The three parks currently employ over 31,000 individuals and Hawassa alone will accommodate 60,000 employees when fully operational.

US Charge d’Affaires, Troy Fitrell, administered the oath of service to 39 new Peace Corps Volunteers at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa last week. The volunteers will be working as English teachers in the Amhara, Tigray, Oromiya and SNNPR Regional States. This brings the number of Peace Corps Volunteers in Ethiopia working in the three sectors of Health, Agriculture and Education to 130.

The BBC World Service has launched three websites for Ethiopia and neighboring Eritrea as part of its biggest expansion since the 1940s. BBC editor Will Ross said the websites would be a “source of truth” in a region with few independent media outlets. The launch of websites in Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya, will be followed in a few months by the launch of radio programs in the three languages.

 

Eritrea

This week marks the 16th anniversary of the ban on the independent media in Eritrea, a ban reinforced a few days later by the arrest and disappearance of the eleven leading editors and journalists, following the arrest of fifteen senior government and party officials. Abraham Zere, the executive director of PEN Eritrea in Exile, described this as the start of “Eritrea’s transformation into the police state that it is today.”  (See article)

Eritrean Christians marked Monday (September 18) as a day of prayer and fasting. This followed the failure of the government to allow Patriarch Antonios of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, under house arrest since January 2007 after his removal from office in violation of canon law, to deliver the traditional New Year blessing last week. His appearance in public at a church service two months ago had led to speculation about his release. The day of fasting was also a response to reports of growing persecution of Christians in Eritrea.

 

Kenya

The Supreme Court on Wednesday this week (September 20) made public its full verdict and reasons for the annulment of the presidential election on August 8 including criticisms of the role of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). On Thursday, the IEBC announced that the new election would be held on October 26.

The National Intelligence Service has singled out terrorism as the biggest threat to Kenya’s national security and development. In a report presented to MPs on Wednesday (September 20), the NIS said that the threat, from organizations like al-Shabaab and the Islamic State group, remained high in the border counties of Mandera, Wajir, Garissa and Lamu. Other threats included online radicalization, ethnic local politics, espionage, regional instability and the competition for benefits arising from different interests.

 

Somalia

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre flew to New York on Monday (September 18) to attend the UN General Assembly.

Prime Minister Khayre met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly this week. They discussed bilateral cooperation and the current projects China is implementing in Somalia. They also discussed security and reiterated the importance of strengthening their relationship.

Prime Minister Khayre met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday this week (September 19) to discuss strengthening the long term bilateral relationship between the two countries. Russia pledged its readiness to help Somalia in its efforts to fight against extremism and terrorism.

Prime Minister Khayre met with the Foreign Minister of Qatar Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani this week. They discussed ways to boost bilateral relations as well as other issues of common concern. The Foreign Minister briefed the Prime Minister on the latest developments in Gulf crisis.

Parliament this week has appointed a 15-member committee to investigate the circumstances under which ONLF terrorist leader Abdikarim Muse “Qalbi-dhagah” was handed over to Ethiopia. Speaker Mohamed Jawaari said the committee is expected to present a report to the House by October 10.

Mohammed Ahmed Othman Al Hammadi, UAE’s Ambassador to Somalia, yesterday met with Finance Minister, Abdirahman Duale Beyle, to discuss bilateral relations and ways of supporting and developing them in economic cooperation and development. Mr Beyle praised the strong relations between the two countries, pointing out that the UAE has been one of the largest trading partners of Somalia over the past decades. He emphasized his keenness to strengthen economic and trade cooperation.

The first UNHCR-assisted return of Somali refugees from Yemen took place at the weekend when 133 refugees left Yemen. The UNHCR is supporting the voluntary returns of Somali refugees who make up over 90% of Yemen’s 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers.  Up to 10,000 Somali refugees have made the choice to return.

The Police component of AMISOM handed over office equipment to the Somali Police Force at the weekend. AMISOM Deputy Police Commissioner Ms Christine Alalo said AMISOM had a mandate to build the capacity of the Somali police forces by training, mentoring, operational support, strategic advice and logistics and equipment. The equipment, which included solar lighting and computers, will be distributed to various police stations in Mogadishu.

Somalia has become the 157th country to join the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the 50th member from Africa. The Federal government said it has been in the process of introducing a master-plan to revive the tourism industry.

Hirshabelle’s regional Parliament elected Mohamed Abdi Ware as its new President on Sunday (September 17), nearly a month after they delivered a vote of no confidence to former president Ali Abdullahi Osoble. International partners welcomed the result and urged “all parties to respect the outcome of the voting in the regional assembly and refrain from any actions that could undermine the consolidation of the state-building process.”

The President of Hirshabelle State, Mohamed Abdi Waare, announced his support this week for the Federal government’s decision to stay neutral in the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This followed a statement by the Galmudug State administration on Wednesday) calling on the Federal government to review its position of neutrality over the Gulf crisis. South West State president, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden had taken a similar position and last month, Puntland State also publicly supported Saudi Arabia and called on the Federal Government to cut ties with Qatar.

 

South Sudan

South Sudan has been one of the leading agenda items at the first week of the UN General Assembly with a number of meetings including an African Union Peace and Security Council ministerial meeting, a High-level Humanitarian Event and a High-level Consultative Meeting of IGAD, the AU and the UN. (See article)

The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement last week (September 17) that some 182,000 South Sudanese refugees had arrived in Sudan during 2017, bringing the total from South Sudan since December 2013 to nearly 460,000. OCHA said it expected more to arrive with the continued security issues and humanitarian crisis.

The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), has reiterated its call for full implementation of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict of South Sudan. JMEC Chief of Staff, Ambassador Berhanu Kebede, told a visiting delegation of Pan-African MPs in Juba that this was the key to peace and stability; and briefed the delegation on the IGAD-led High-Level Revitalization Forum and the regional efforts.

 

Sudan

President Omer al-Bashir said on Tuesday (September 19) that Sudan’s border with Chad will no longer serve as a crossing point for illegal arms and rebel groups. He praised the joint Sudanese-Chadian border force, as a “model for establishing security and stability along the border between the two countries”. Chad and Sudan signed a normalization agreement ending a long history of mutual hostility in 2010, setting up the joint border force. This year its activities expanded to include counter-terrorism and disarmament.

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan last week to discuss bilateral relations after sanctions were lifted. In July, the White House postponed for three months a decision on whether to permanently lift its sanctions on Sudan and Mr Sullivan underlined that the decision on the permanent repeal of sanctions would come from there. A decision is expected in October. (See article)

Lieutenant General Emad al-Din Mustafa Adawi the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)’s Chief of the General Staff said talks with visiting Chief of Staff of the Ethiopian Armed Forces, General Samora Yenus, on Monday (September 20) offered ‘tangible results to face the security challenges in the region, which require great coordination, understanding and cooperation.” The Sudanese-Ethiopian Joint Military Commission began meetings at the technical level on Sunday and then continued discussions at the level of the Chiefs of Staff.

UNAMID, the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur said last week that phase one of its reconfiguration, the closure of eleven team sites and reduction of military personnel from 15,845 to 11,395 and police personnel strength from 3,403 to 2,888, would be completed this month. UNAMID Joint Special Representative, Jeremiah Mamabolo, briefing the UN Security Council on Thursday (September 17) said the region had remained largely calm in the past few months.

Khartoum hosted the 11th session of the Executive Council and the 9th Conference of Speakers of the IGAD Inter-Parliamentary Union in Khartoum last week (September 16-18). The meetings discussed the security situation in the region, climatic change and its impact on the area and illegal migration. The Speaker of Sudan’s National Legislature, Ibrahim Ahmed Omer, opened the conference attended by parliamentary speakers, concerned ministers and ambassadors of member states.

 

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Opening of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York ….

The 72nd annual debate of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 72) convened at UN Headquarters this week on Tuesday, (September 19). This year’s theme is, “Focusing on people: striving for peace and a decent life for all on a sustainable planet”. The General Debate this week and next week, to which Heads of State and Government contribute, will cover discussion of the most urgent issues facing the planet and its people, including major humanitarian challenges, among them climate change, famine, international security, and prevention and mediation to sustain peace, migration, achieving decent lives, sustainable development and human rights. The session opened with world leaders calling for concerted efforts to respond to these challenges.

In his opening remarks, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that “our world is in trouble”. It was, he said, “a world in pieces.” He said there were seven key threats facing the world: the risk of nuclear conflict, terrorism, unresolved conflicts and violations of international humanitarian law, climate change, rising inequality, cyber security, and people on the move.

He appealed for international cooperation against the threat of nuclear arms used by North Korea, a threat, he said, which had never been stronger since the end of the Cold War. He called for co-operation against terrorism. Nothing, he said, justified attacks against innocent people. Mr Guterres added that no one would be victorious in the wars in Syria and other regions of the world and he stressed that the world needed political and diplomatic solutions.

On issues of migration, the UN Secretary General noted that this had always been a problem and no one and nothing can stop it. However, it was also a phenomenon that could be better managed with more effective international cooperation in the interest of safeguarding human rights. He also called on all countries to commit themselves to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and he also emphasized that United Nations reform was aimed at improving the lives of people and safeguarding the dignity of citizens.

General Assembly President, Miroslav Lajčák, said “conflict persists as an ugly reality of our world”, adding, “Civilians, not soldiers, are paying the highest price. Schools and hospitals, not military barracks, are the targets of attacks”. He noted that today over 65 million people are leaving their homes because they had been forced to do so, not because they wanted to. He said one of the biggest challenges facing the Assembly would be to adopt the first-ever global compact on migration. It would be difficult, he said, but necessary. President Lajčák also noted in his speech that there were other major challenges, including persistent poverty, growing inequalities, indiscriminate terrorism and terrorist attacks, and the worsening effects of climate change. These challenges underlined the need to focus on people, he said. Vital global frameworks should be implemented by and for people. President Lajčák said peace and prevention should be at the center of the United Nations. That was the only way to ensure the United Nations did the job for which it was created.

President Alpha Condé of the Republic of Guinea, the Chairman of the African Union Assembly, told the General Assembly that the 21st century would see Africa take its rightful place on the world stage. He said the 21st century would, without doubt, be “a century in which Africans were going to count for more and in a decisive way because there is an ever-greater determination among Africa’s leaders and youth that the hour of renewal has arrived.”

“Africa, formerly subjugated, ruthlessly exploited and molded by the will of others,” said President Condé, “has awakened. She has arisen to lead the battle for sustainable development, justice and good governance.” President Condé said Africa’s lack of development was not its destiny. It had been the most dynamic continent over the past decade, Mr Condé highlighted the need for economic diversification, industrialization and the need to instruct and deploy two million community health workers throughout the continent. He also repeated the call for the enlargement of the 15-member Security Council to reflect the new realities of the world, including permanent seats with veto powers for African States.

A day earlier, the UN Secretary-General convened a High-level meeting on the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse and called on the world to stand in solidarity to condemn sexual exploitation and abuse as he detailed the key initiatives at the heart of his victim-centered approach to address the scourge across the UN system. Along with other world leaders, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn attended the High-level meeting on Monday (September 18). Appreciating the leadership and commitment of the United Nations on this issue, Prime Minister Hailemariam stressed the importance of prevention and combating of sexual exploitation and abuse. He welcomed the measures Mr Guterres had taken in this regard since he assumed office in January 2017. The Prime Minister said Ethiopia was particularly pleased to participate in high-level meetings of this kind, aiming to mobilize the international community to fight this scourge. He seized the opportunity to reiterate Ethiopia’s strong condemnation of all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse throughout the United Nations system and to reaffirm its commitment and support to the implementation of the United Nations Zero-Tolerance Policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. He pledged to study carefully the voluntary compact on commitment to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse. The Prime Minister noted that for Ethiopia “as a major troop contributing country, the protection of civilians, particularly children and women who usually find themselves in a vulnerable situation, is of utmost importance.” He said, “We fully recognize our obligation to ensure that our peacekeepers respect applicable international humanitarian and human rights law.” He pointed out that Ethiopia also provided “the necessary and adequate pre-deployment training on civilian protection, including on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse”.

A number of events and meetings have been taking place in parallel to the General Debate of the 72nd session of the General Assembly. Prime Minister Hailemariam will be addressing the General Assembly on Friday afternoon (September 22). He also chaired the High-Level Debate on Reform of UN Peacekeeping on Wednesday, a highlight of Ethiopia’s Presidency of the UN Security Council this month (see below). The Prime Minister and other members of the delegation also participated in a number of other meetings this week and numerous bilateral discussions. These meetings have included a Leaders Dialogue on Climate Change; Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate Child Marriage in Africa; a UN Private Sector Forum – financing the 2030 agenda; the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC); Towards Implementation of the International Decade for Action Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2018; the Presidential Dialogue for the Future of U-Africa Business Relations; A Call to Action to end Forced Labor, Modern Slavery, and Human Trafficking; Informal High-Level Leaders Dialogue on Climate Change; President Trump’s lunch for African Leaders; the AU Peace and Security Council ministerial meeting on South Sudan; Annual meeting of Foreign Ministers – on accelerating implementation of the Vienna Program of Action and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; the Bloomberg Global Business Forum; the High-level Event on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa 2016-2-25; High-level meeting on South Sudan; High-level meeting on Somalia; Global Launch of the UNDP Africa Report.

 

Security Council High-level Open Debate on Reform of UN Peacekeeping …

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), at its special meeting held on Wednesday (September 20), unanimously approved the draft resolution on the reform of United Nations peacekeeping tabled by Ethiopia. All Security Council members co-sponsored the draft resolution and several other non-members also expressed interest to co-sponsor. The debate attracted a lot of attention with dozens of Heads of State and Government and Ministers attending and more than 70 countries registering to speak. The occasion, one of the most important priorities of Ethiopia’s activities during its Council presidency, was highly successful.

As Ethiopia holds the place of presidency at the Council for the month of September, the meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. Secretary-General António Guterres, Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki and the former President of Timor Leste and Chair of the High-Level Panel on the Review of Peace Operations (HIPPO) José Ramos-Horta briefed the Council on the theme of the Debate. Also speaking were Heads of State and Government, as well as other high-level officials from more than two dozen countries.

The draft resolution, passed as 2378 (2017) called for accelerating reform and welcomed the efforts being made by the Secretary-General to pursue the structural reform of the Secretariat to reinforce the United Nations peace and security architecture. It laid emphasis on enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of UN Peacekeeping. It underscored the need for peacekeepers to be equipped with the necessary capabilities and called for the existing gaps to be addressed. It also recognized the importance of enhancing partnerships particularly between the UN and the AU. It noted the prevention of conflict remained a primary responsibility of States, and actions undertaken within the framework of conflict prevention by the UN should support and complement conflict-prevention roles of national governments. It reaffirmed the duty of all States to settle international disputes by peaceful means, and recognized that the good offices of the Secretary-General to help resolve conflict.

The resolution underlined the importance of adequate implementation and follow up of peacekeeping reform in accordance with existing mandates and procedures. It requested that the Secretary-General provide a comprehensive annual briefing to the Security Council on reform of United Nations peacekeeping every 12 months. This should be followed by a debate. The Council reiterated that regional organizations had the responsibility to secure human, financial, logistical and other resources for their organizations, and recognized that ad hoc and unpredictable financing arrangements for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council and consistent with Chapter VIII of the Charter might impact the effectiveness of those peace support operations. It requested that the Secretary-General, in coordination with the African Union, should present, in his next Report on Strengthening the Partnership between the United Nations and the African Union on Issues of Peace and Security in Africa, including the Work of the United Nations Office to the African Union, a reporting framework that would establish clear, consistent and predictable reporting channels, including fiduciary and mandate delivery, between the Secretariat, the Commission and the two Councils, as well as standardized reporting requirements.

Under the title of “Peacekeeping Operations Regarding the Reform of United Nations Peacekeeping: Implementation and Follow-Up”, Prime Minister Hailemariam, speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the unanimous adoption of resolution 2378 (2017) and commended all members of the Council for their input and contributions during the negotiations on the draft. The Prime Minister noted the adoption of the resolution had particular significance for Ethiopia, with more than 8,000 peacekeepers in Darfur, Abyei and South Sudan, as one of the leading Troop Contributing Countries to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. He emphasized that Ethiopia took pride in its role in UN peacekeeping and added “we are pleased to have made a modest contribution to advancing the reform of UN peacekeeping by proposing the draft resolution we just adopted.”

Prime Minister Hailemariam underlined five major points in undertaking reform of UN peacekeeping and charting the way forward. He stressed the “absolute importance” of adequate implementation and follow up of United Nations peacekeeping reform by the Council, in accordance with existing mandates and procedures. The Security Council, he said, had a key role in strengthening United Nations peacekeeping and he welcomed the decision by the Council for its Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations to review reform initiatives in close cooperation with other Member States, including Troop- and Police-Contributing Countries and host countries. Recalling that Council did not have a dedicated debate to discuss reform issues comprehensively and assess the progress made, he noted Ethiopia welcomed the decision to have an annual debate on the basis of a comprehensive annual briefing by the Secretary-General. He also called attention to the environment under which many peacekeepers operate. This had dramatically changed and peacekeepers were not equipped with the necessary capabilities to carry out their mandates and protect civilians while also ensuring their own safety and security. He welcomed the Secretary-General providing updates to the Security Council, as part of his comprehensive briefing, on the continuous efforts made in filling the existing gaps in terms of force generation and capabilities as well as other relevant aspects necessary for peacekeeping to effectively and appropriately respond to peace and security challenges.

The Prime Minister appreciated the Secretary-General’s initiatives to reform the UN peace and security architecture both in the Secretariat as well as in the field. He said it was important that the Council sent a political message to the Secretary-General welcoming his reform efforts. He concluded by stressing the need to enhance global-regional partnerships. This was indeed one of the most important pillars of reforming UN peacekeeping. Given the current global security dynamics, he said, the UN could not handle new and emerging peace and security challenges alone. Forging effective partnerships with regional and sub-regional organizations was the most sensible and logical thing to do. This meant taking practical steps in the spirit of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, including the sharing of burdens. Prime Minister Hailemariam said it was high time that the contributions and the sacrifices of UN peacekeepers and of those deployed after authorization by the Security Council were acknowledged in a meaningful way.

Other heads of States and Governments also emphasized the benefit of reforms, pointing out that research had proved that peacekeeping operations not only reduced the numbers of civilians killed, but were ultimately cost effective. The United Nations peacekeeping budget was less than 0.5 per cent of global military spending, and that figure was shared among all 193 Member States. Several delegations stressed the importance of the inclusion of women in peacekeeping. Others called for fundamental reforms to peacekeeping, saying that, when a mission succeeded, its work should not be prolonged, and that those missions not fulfilling Council mandates should be closed.

Speaking before the resolution’s adoption, Secretary-General António Guterres said, “I thank this month’s Presidency of the Security Council, Ethiopia, for being such a steadfast contributor to peacekeeping. Your personnel are on the front lines in some of our most challenging missions, and we are extremely grateful for that commitment. Today, we gather to fortify this flagship United Nations activity that peacekeeping was a highly cost-effective instrument.” He noted that though the United Nations was often the sole party to act in peace operations and address urgent situations, reform was needed and that would require the organization making several critical shifts. One of these, according to the Secretary-General was “the recognition of the primacy of politics.” The Secretary General also underlined that peace operations should be deployed in support of active diplomatic efforts, rather than as a substitute.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said that the Council debate provided the chance to examine financing approaches and bolster the African Union’s partnership with the United Nations. The African Union’s peace operations should be supported through United Nations assessed contributions, he said, noting that sustainable financing was essential for sustainable solutions.

José Ramos-Horta, Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, noted that the United Nations should invest in its own capacities for prevention and mediation and those core functions should be funded through the Organization’s regular budget. His report identified a number of areas for reform including: the “primacy of politics” in peace operations; a “spectrum of peace operations” tailored to the specific context; “stronger partnerships”; and “field-focused and people-centered” approaches. The concept note circulated before Wednesday’s debate underlined specific areas for discussion: How UN peacekeeping reform had been implemented in the past two years and what impact this had on the performance of missions; How the Council could strengthen its role in implementation and follow up; How the Council could help the Secretary-General’s effort to reform the UN’s peace and security architecture; What was the status of member state commitments to force generation and the deployment of key capacities and what gaps remained; How the Council could support the new UN-AU strategic partnership; and which options proposed by the Secretary-General were acceptable and feasible to provide the necessary support to AU-led peace support operations.

 

Meetings on South Sudan in New York….

South Sudan has been one of the leading agenda items at the first week of the UN General Assembly with a number of meetings including an African Union Peace and Security Council ministerial meeting, a High-level Humanitarian Event and a High-level Consultative Meeting of IGAD, the AU and the UN.

The AU Peace and Security Council was briefed on the situation in South Sudan on Tuesday (September 19) by the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui and the AU High Representative for South Sudan, former President Alpha Oumar Konaré of Mali, as well as by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, speaking as Chair of IGAD’s Council of Ministers, the Deputy Chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) Ambassador Lt. General Augustos Njoroge, and the UN Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in South Sudan and Head of UNMISS, Mr David Shearer. It also heard a statement of South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Deng Alor Kuol.

Dr Workneh underlined what had been achieved in the two years since the signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) in August 2015. Then the world had acclaimed the leaders of South Sudan for their courageous resolve to end the conflict. However, hopes of peace were dashed even before the ink was dry. Peace was assumed to come from the barrel of the gun rather than through negotiated political settlement. The country, he said, was still embroiled “in execrable security, political, economic, social and humanitarian problems.

This, Dr Workneh said, was why IGAD Heads of State and Government in June had decided to convene a High-level Revitalization Forum of the Parties to the Peace Agreement, a forum to include estranged groups, to discuss concrete measures to restore the permanent ceasefire, return to full and inclusive implementation of the Peace Agreement, and develop a realistic timeline towards democratic elections in the country. IGAD, he said, was convinced a genuine revitalization of the Peace Agreement demanded a process inclusive of all important actors to the conflict. With this in mind, IGAD firmly believed the Revitalization Process provided the platform to fully implement the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict to bring lasting peace and stability in the country.

To achieve this, the IGAD Council of Ministers, had appointed an IGAD Special Envoy who had held discussions with Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) and other stakeholders. It had managed to identify and map out a wide array of groups including SPLM-IG, SPLM-IO, SPLM-FDs, and other parties outside the Transitional Government of National Unity, as well as eminent personalities and civil society groups to participate in the Forum. The Council had convened two consecutive meetings and adopted a detailed Roadmap or Indicative Matrix leading towards the Forum. He said the members of the Council and Special Envoy would start shuttling to various capitals to hold discussions with identified groups next week.

Dr Workneh stressed, however, that the success of the Revitalization process would very much depend on the political will of all relevant stakeholders. He therefore called upon all the forces in South Sudan, IGAD partners, the AU, and the international community to embrace the objectives of the High-Level Revitalization Forum and collaborate with the IGAD Special Envoy. The Revitalization Process, he said, was an essential milestone to create a genuine inclusive process. Equally, he underlined, the future of South Sudan fully depended on South Sudanese. Political leaders must exert maximum political commitment, willingness and dedication to take the process forward. IGAD Member States must stand together to speak with one voice to bring a lasting solution to the problem as well as  keep up the momentum, working hand in hand with the AU and UN as well as international partners and friends of South Sudan. South Sudanese political leaders and other relevant stakeholders must seize this opportunity to demonstrate their readiness to make the Revitalization process a success. Dr Workneh added: “They must also take note of that failure to this will be met with subsequent consequences.”

At the conclusion of its meeting, the AUPSC reiterated that the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) remained the only viable option towards addressing the current political, social, economic and security challenges facing South Sudan and achieving sustainable peace. It expressed its profound disappointment over the slow implementation of the ARCSS, and said it was time for Africa to take decisive decisions. It urged all stakeholders, including armed groups, to commit to a permanent ceasefire, emphasizing there could be no military solution, and called for demonstration of the required political commitment and will. It expressed its deep appreciation to IGAD for initiating the High-level Revitalization Forum and strongly urged all parties to extend full cooperation to IGAD. It said the Council held the view that this process represented a unique window of opportunity, and a last chance for the Parties to really achieve sustainable peace and stability in South Sudan.

The AUPSC also welcomed the progress made in preparations for the National Dialogue but reiterated it must be all-inclusive, independent, and transparent. It must also compliment not replace full implementation of the ARCSS and the Revitalization process. It welcomed the progress in deployment of the Regional Protection Force and called upon both UNMISS and the Transitional Government to expedite this process. It stressed it should be deployed as soon as possible. It commended the efforts of the AU High Representative for South Sudan to assist South Sudanese parties to bridge their differences, and the JMEC for monitoring implementation of the ARCSS. It also welcomed the efforts of President Museveni of Uganda to facilitate the reunification of different factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The AUPSC called on all the parties to allow free and unhindered access by humanitarian actors and commended neighboring states for providing support and assistance to those displaced. It said IGAD should provide an update on progress over the High-Level Revitalization Forum initiative as soon as possible. The AU Commission and the Transitional Government should conclude the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Hybrid Court urgently and the Commission should urgently develop possible measures to be applied against all those obstructing efforts for peace and security in South Sudan. It also called for the AU Commission to take the necessary steps to mobilize financial resources and humanitarian assistance in support of the peace process. It said that should South Sudanese parties continue to delay the full implementation process of the ACRSS, the AUPSC would consider the necessary steps, including sanctions, to ensure its effective and efficient implementation.

The High-level Consultative meeting of IGAD, the AU and the UN, on Thursday (September 21) was attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Prime Minister Hailemariam and General Taban Deng Gai, First Vice-President of South Sudan. Prime Minister Hailemariam, in his capacity as Chair of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government, also stressed the importance of supporting the High-level Revitalization process. He noted that despite the declaration by President Kiir of a unilateral ceasefire, fighting had continued unabated across several parts of the country with devastating consequences for the civilian population. The security situation was further compounded by the country’s dire economic and humanitarian situation. He said all could agree that no military solution to the multifaceted problems in South Sudan was possible, and sustainable peace could only be guaranteed through a genuine and inclusive political process.

As IGAD had repeatedly reiterated, full implementation of the 2015 Peace Agreement remained the only viable way forward. The lack of meaningful progress had necessitated the reinvigoration of the peace process through a High-level Revitalization Forum of the parties to the Agreement. Prime Minister Hailemariam emphasized the High-Level Revitalization Forum was not a new negotiation platform. It was rather “a window of opportunity for the parties to the Peace Agreement and other estranged groups to expedite its full implementation in letter and spirit”. He noted the progress made and said the last phase of the preparatory stage was the consultation phase that will be taken by the Council of Ministers with the identified groups.

The Prime Minister stressed the full support of the African Union, the United Nations and the IGAD Partners Forum and the wider international community was absolutely critical for the success of the Forum. One major achievement of high-level meeting, he said, should be sending a strong and unified message to all parties in South Sudan to engage in the High-Level Forum seriously and constructively. He said the region was very grateful for the strong support of the Secretary General and the AU Chairperson. He said he could not over-emphasize the importance of maintaining unity of purpose in the search for lasting peace, security and stability in South Sudan. There was no viable alternative to the efforts being made by IGAD in close coordination and cooperation with the AU and the UN. In conclusion, Prime Minister Hailemariam quoted the Chairman of the JMEC, Festus Mogae, “for the revitalization process to succeed and for effective implementation of the Peace Agreement to be achieved, there is need for demonstrable political will by the Parties and estranged groups to be inclusive, and to accommodate one another politically rather than attempt to defeat each other militarily”. The Prime Minister added that no matter what everybody else did, the success of the reinvigoration process and addressing the enormous challenges facing South Sudan highly depended on the willingness of all the parties. He hoped all South Sudanese parties would rise to the challenge and work towards the restoration of peace through genuine dialogue and reconciliation.

Another meeting on Wednesday was a High-level Humanitarian Event, co-chaired by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr Mark Lowcock; the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs Ms Minata Samate Cessouma, and Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Børge Brende. This aimed to draw international attention to the escalating humanitarian crisis in South Sudan. It called upon all parties to consistently allow safe, rapid and unhindered access for humanitarian staff recognized that humanitarian needs would only continue to grow until the fighting stops. It urged all parties to agree to a ceasefire and to reaffirm their commitment to find an inclusive political solution. It expressed alarm that a record 6 million people were now facing acute hunger in South Sudan, including 1.7 million people on the brink of famine. It noted more than two million South Sudanese had fled the violence to neighboring countries since 2013; another two million people were estimated to be internally displaced; there were more than 2,600 cases of sexual and gender-based violence reported to humanitarian partners in 2016, and civilians continue to be killed and children forcibly recruited. It called on all actors with influence over the fighting parties to exert pressure on them to respect the rules of war. It condemned the killing of 85 aid workers since 2013, including 18 this year alone. It also agreed on the urgent need for donors to provide additional flexible and needs-based funding as humanitarian needs will remain high into 2018 and beyond.

 

These points were underlined at the beginning of the week by the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, at an enhanced interactive dialogue on the human rights situation in South Sudan, held by the United Nations Human Rights Council. She said the scale of human suffering generated by the crisis in South Sudan was almost beyond description. Civilians, she said, had borne “the brunt of that violence and destruction, the fruit of a deep failure of leadership.” According to the UN, all parties to the conflict have committed gross violations, including widespread sexual violence, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings, attacks on humanitarian workers and programs, and targeting of civilians. Ms Gilmore said it was clear that “some of those violations could constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. It was well past time for principled leadership to act in the interest of all South Sudanese.”

 

High-level Meeting on Somalia…

A High-Level Meeting on Somalia was hosted by Somalia, Ethiopia, Italy and the United Kingdom this week, on Thursday (September 21), on the side-lines of the UN general assembly meeting in New York. The Meeting was attended by the UN Secretary General, African Union Commissioner, the IGAD Executive Secretary and the EU High Representative and Vice President plus 27 other international partners.

Ethiopia was represented by State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mrs Hirut Zemene in this meeting which provided an opportunity to consider progress and challenges in two key areas of political reform and economic recovery in Somalia. Participants affirmed strong interlinkages between these issues and Somalia’s security and stability. It was highlighted that progress on security will be essential to enable political and economic progress and participants stressed that this remains a top priority, requiring Somali commitment on security sector reform and international support. Participants expressed particular appreciation for AMISOM’s vital work in enabling security and stability, key to laying the foundations for a staged transfer of security responsibility to Somali institutions and forces. They acknowledged the urgent need for sustainable and predictable funding for AMISOM.

Participants also expressed concern about the continuing drought and stressed that implementing reforms is a vital part of building resilience. Prime Minister Khayre of Somalia affirmed his government’s commitment to work with the Somalia Federal Member States to resolve key constitutional issues. He highlighted the work so far on revenue and resource sharing, and towards a model for 2021 universal elections, including consultations across the country. Participants welcomed this and encouraged a high-level political dialogue in order to agree a clear, sequenced plan for next steps, which has the support of the Federal Member States and of Parliament.

Participants welcomed the steps already taken by the Federal Government of Somalia to engage with the Federal Member States, including holding cabinet meetings in the regions and convening meetings of the Federal Government and Federal Member State leaders. Participants highlighted the need for continued and increased efforts in this regard.

Ethiopia’s state Minister for Foreign Affairs Mrs Hirut Zemene acknowledged the importance of support to the Somali government for the implementation of economic recovery. She also highlighted the importance for Somalia of increasing its domestic revenues in order to independently finance core government functions and accelerate provision of basic services.

The State Minister and other participants noted that Somalia is taking important steps in the areas of economic and public financial management reform and welcomed the passage of the anti-corruption bill by the Council of Ministers. They highlighted the need for continued progress in these areas in order to tackle corruption, attract investment, and help advance Somalia along the path towards International Financial Institutions normalisation. Substantial investments in Somalia were also underlined as the most important element to support economic recovery and to rebuild the country’s physical infrastructure.

 

A High-level ministerial meeting on Mali….

Mali was the subject of a high-level ministerial meeting on Wednesday (September 20) attended by the UN Secretary-General; the African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat; the High Representative and Vice President of the European Union, Ms Federica Mogherini; and the President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlined the importance of the implementation of the agreement for peace and reconciliation in Mali, welcoming the adoption of Security Council resolution 2374 (2017) on sanctions against individuals and entities actively derailing progress in the peace agreement. He said delays and slow implementation of critical provisions of the peace agreement were a cause of concern as were delays in the security sector reform related to the redeployment of the reconstituted Malian Defence and Security Forces in the centre and north of the country.

The Secretary-General underlined some recent achievements in security, development, reductions in community violence, and efforts to prevent the recruitment of youth. At the same time, recent confrontations between armed groups and recurring attacks underlined continuing fragility. He said new institutions, processes and laws had yet to translate into significant improvements in the daily lives of Malians. Inclusivity, especially of women, youth and other underrepresented social groups, remained insufficient. Problems of humanitarian access persisted. The human rights situation remained of concern with continuing clashes, infiltration of extremist armed elements, and counter-terrorism operations. In fact, he said, security conditions had worsened in many parts of the country, and insecurity had spilled into neighbouring countries, especially Burkina Faso and Niger, where there had been attacks and casualties.

The Secretary-General welcomed the establishment of the G-5 Sahel joint force to combat terrorism and transnational organized crime. This, he said, required committed support. It would contribute to an enabling environment for MINUSMA to fully implement its mandate and, if successful, to progress in the Malian peace process. He appealed to the international community to support it financially and logistically. At the same time, he concluded, the most sustainable solution remained strengthening of Mali’s own security architecture. He called for the fight against impunity to continue and hoped that the establishment of the International Commission of Inquiry would further advance justice.

Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, advisor to Prime Minister Hailemariam, also addressed the meeting, noting the progress made recently in implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement in Mali, but underlining the challenges that remained. He emphasized the need to prioritize the key institutional reforms stipulated in the Peace Agreement, as well as the necessity for the signatory parties to honor their commitments and redouble their efforts. Ethiopia, he said, fully supported the establishment of the Sanction Regime at the request of the Malian government in order to exert more pressure on those who were creating obstacles to progress. This should serve as a means to facilitate the full and speedy implementation of the agreement and the restoration of state authority in the northern part of Mali. He noted that terrorists and other transnational criminal networks continued to pose serious threats and the emergence of new armed groups had also contributed to a deteriorating security situation.

Ambassador Berhane underlined the critical role of MINUSMA, which, he said, was operating under an extremely difficult environment without the necessary resources and capabilities needed. It was imperative to address the constraints facing the mission to enable it carry out its mandate effectively. Neighboring countries were feeling the impact of insecurity in Mali and regional cooperation should, he said, be encouraged and supported. He welcomed the official launching of the G-5 Sahel Joint Force at the beginning of July. Ethiopia believed this would contribute to fighting the menace of terrorism and transnational organized crime, but at the same time there was a funding gap that could hamper full operationalization of the joint force. There was an urgent need to exert more effort to mobilize international support. The holding of the Donors Conference, in line with Security Council resolution 2359, would be instrumental in mobilizing the international community. In this context, he looked forward to the Security Council Mission to the G-5 Sahel next month under the upcoming French Presidency.

 

President Trump’s lunch for African leaders

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hailemariam was one of the nine African Heads of State or Government at a working lunch with US President Trump.

President Trump said he could see partners for promoting prosperity and peace on a range of economic, humanitarian and security issues, and emphasized that the US hoped to extend its economic partnerships with countries that are committed to self-reliance and fostering opportunities for job creation in both Africa and the United States. He underlined the tremendous business potential available among those fastest-growing world economies to be found in Africa. He stressed that increasing American trade and investment across diverse industries, including agriculture, energy, transportation, healthcare, travel and tourism, would further transform lives throughout the continent. He said Secretary Tillerson and the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation were already considering an investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars in Côte d’Ivoire. He also hoped that African firms would consider making investments in the United States, mentioning Sasol, as an example, which is building a $9 billion petrochemical plant in Louisiana.

The President also emphasized that health was necessary for prosperity. He said, “We will continue our partnership on critical health initiatives”, noting the strides Uganda had made in the battle against HIV/AIDS, the successes in Guinea and Nigeria against Ebola and Namibia’s increasingly self-sufficient health system.

Above all, President Trump said, prosperity depends on peace. He said the United States would partner with the countries and organizations, like the African Union, that lead successful efforts to end violence, to prevent the spread of terrorism, and to respond to humanitarian crises. He commended African troops currently serving in the field as “very brave.” Too many people, he said, were suffering from conflict in Africa, in the Central African Republic, the Congo, Libya, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan. Terrorist groups, such as ISIS, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and al Qaeda threatened African peace. The United States, he said, was proud to work with African leaders to eradicate terrorist safe havens, cut off finances, and discredit their ideology. He added that several of the leaders present had told him the previous evening that the US had been doing a very good job over the previous six or seven months. The President underlined his particular concern over the ongoing violence in South Sudan and in the Congo and added: “real results in halting this catastrophe will require an African-led peace process and a really sincere commitment of all parties involved.” He said he was sending Ambassador Nikki Haley to Africa to discuss avenues of conflict and resolution and, most importantly, prevention.

He spoke of the enormous security threat from North Korea and said, “We must all stand together and be accountable in implementing United Nations’ sanctions and resolutions in response to North Korea’s hostile and menacing actions.” The President said, “We believe that a free, independent, and democratic nation, in all cases, is the best vehicle for human happiness and success.” Africa, he said, was a continent of tremendous potential. He again congratulated his listeners for the fast economic growth of their countries; they had done a terrific job, despite some tremendous obstacles.

 

And a Security Council meeting on Threats to International Peace and Security

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu chaired the 8052nd meeting of the UN Security Council on Threats to International Peace and Security on Thursday (September 21). The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2379 (2017) on ensuring accountability of members of ISIL/Da’esh for the crimes committed in Iraq.

Dr Workneh welcomed the unanimous adoption of resolution 2379 (2017) on ensuring accountability of members of ISIL (Da’esh) for crimes in Iraq, including those that might amount to crimes against humanity. He said: “The adoption of this resolution today is indeed an appropriate response to the request made by the Iraqi government calling for the assistance of the international community in ensuring accountability of members of Daesh for the crimes they committed.” In this connection, the Minister commended the Government of Iraq for all its efforts, noting that the presence of the Iraqi Foreign Minister demonstrated “the importance that his government attaches to this matter.”

Dr Workneh stressed that there was no doubt that ISIL/Da’esh constituted a global threat to international peace and security. This was not a matter that required lengthy explanations. It was self-evident. Through its commission of acts involving murder, kidnapping, hostage-taking, suicide bombings and the destruction of cultural heritage, Da’esh had committed very serious crimes which might amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. Dr Workneh added that Ethiopia would: “never forget the loss of our compatriots who were mercilessly massacred by ISIL/Daesh in Libya and that [is] why we supported this resolution which aims to hold members of ISIL/Da’esh accountable for the crime they committed in Iraq.”

Dr Workneh noted that the adoption of the resolution is indeed significant, not only to address the plight of the victims and to serve justice; it would also greatly assist in countering terrorism and violent extremism. The proper collection and preservation of evidence related to crimes that have been committed by ISIL/Da’esh was critical to ensure accountability. In this regard, he also noted support for the establishment of an Investigative Team, headed by a Special Envoy, to support Iraq’s efforts by collecting and preserving evidence of acts committed by ISIL (Da’esh). This, he said, should be done with full respect for the sovereignty of Iraq and its jurisdiction over crimes committed in its territory.

In light of the severity of the crimes committed by Da’esh and the magnitude of the challenge that Iraq faced, Dr Workneh underscored that Iraq would need appropriate technical support and capacity building. He said: “We understand that it is in this context that the resolution encourages Member States, and regional and intergovernmental organizations, to provide appropriate legal assistance and capacity building to the Government of Iraq in order to strengthen its courts and judicial system.” The Minister also underlined Ethiopia’s full [support] for efforts aimed at ensuring accountability of ISIL/Da’esh members for all the crimes they committed not only in Iraq but also in other parts of the world.

 

NEPAD launches its 5% Agenda initiative for infrastructure financing in Africa

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) brought together international investors and business leaders on Monday (September 18) in New York for the launch of its 5% Agenda campaign. The campaign underlines that a collaborative public-private approach is necessary to provide the funds needed to bridge Africa’s infrastructural gap and calls for allocations of institutional investors to African infrastructure to be increased to the declared 5% mark. In 2012 the African Union Summit adopted the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) which sets out 51 cross-border infrastructure programs and more than 400 projects covering four sectors – energy, transport, trans-boundary water and ICT. The World Bank says Africa needs to spend 93 billion US dollars annually until 2020 to bridge the infrastructure gap – 44% for energy; 23% for water and sanitation; 20% for transport; 10% for ICTs.

Speaking at the launch in New York, NEPAD’s Chief Executive Officer, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, said: “Infrastructure plays a leading role in supporting growth on the continent. At the same time, it can represent an innovative and attractive asset class for institutional investors with long-term liabilities.” He added: “By launching the 5% campaign in New York, we invite investors to take advantage of the wide-ranging opportunities Africa has to offer and to move forward with what can only be a win-win partnership”.

Members of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa’s Continental Business Network also attended the launch. The CBN is a NEPAD and AU initiative that enables private sector members to communicate with high-level policy makers on how to improve the investment climate for infrastructure. This process aims to promote PIDA projects that appeal to the private sector and thus, qualify for private finance. The CBN emphasized that while Africa was getting stronger every day with new business opportunities and innovative ideas what was still crucially missing was project implementation. They underlined the need for a coherent and coordinated approach to mobilize institutional investors while limiting their risk exposure. African governments must work on creating conducive environments to attract these investments. For pension and sovereign wealth funds to be able to invest in large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa, a variety of issues need to be addressed to strategically and intentionally facilitate long-term allocations. Chief among these would be reform of national and regional regulatory frameworks and developing new capital market products to effectively de-risk credit and allow African asset owners to allocate finance to African infrastructure.

NEPAD’s campaign aims to unlock notable and measurable amounts of needed capital to implement regional and domestic infrastructure projects; broaden and deepen the currently limited African capital markets, while also contributing significantly to regional integration and job creation; promote the development of innovative capital market products specific to Africa’s potential with regard to infrastructure development; and raise the investment interest of other institutional and non-institutional financiers.

 

Sudan’s Foreign Minister discusses sanctions relief with U.S. officials

Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan last week to discuss bilateral relations after sanctions were lifted. In July, the White House postponed for three months a decision on whether to permanently lift its sanctions on Sudan and Mr Sullivan underlined that the decision on the permanent repeal of sanctions would come from there. A decision is expected in October.

Mr Ghandour was on a visit to Washington at the invitation of the U.S. State Department before going to New York at the head of the Sudanese delegation to the UN General Assembly. In a statement, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said that Mark Green, head of USAID, Donald Yamamoto, Acting Assistant Secretary for African Affairs; and Paul Steven, Director of the Office of the US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, also attended the meeting. The statement said Mr Sullivan “stressed the importance of Sudan in the region and expressed his hopes for good and normal relations with Sudan”, adding he looked “beyond sanctions.” Mr Sullivan also praised the engagement between the two countries and the five tracks framework agreement, stressing the need to preserve a positive momentum until the decision on the permanent relief of sanctions on Sudan next month. The five track framework covered cooperation on counter-terrorism, addressing the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army; ending hostilities in the “Two Areas” of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and Darfur; improving humanitarian access; and ending negative interference in South Sudan.

According to the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, Mr Sullivan pointed to the importance of Sudan’s commitment to three additional conditions which were not part of the five tracks but were “vital for maintaining the positive engagement between the two sides.” These cover concerns about human rights issues, religious freedom and Sudan’s commitment to international sanctions on North Korea. Mr Ghandour reiterated Sudan’s commitment to the international sanctions on North Korea and noted the issues of religious freedom and human rights were protected by Sudan’s Constitution and were rooted in the values of the Sudanese people. He also underlined the importance of Sudan’s regional role in achieving security and stability and combating terrorism adding that cooperation with the United States would achieve the common interests of both sides.

During his visit to Washington, Mr Ghandour also met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Terrorist Financing, Marshall Billingslea, to discuss “ways to strengthen relations especially the issues of remittances and opening up the horizons of investment and trade between the two countries”. He also met with a number of Congressmen.

 

Anniversary of the death of the independent Eritrean press

As we noted last week, Monday (September 18) was the 16th anniversary of the arrest and disappearance of eleven senior government and party officials in Eritrea. It also marked the ban on the independent media in the country, a ban reinforced a few days later by the arrest and disappearance of the eleven leading editors and journalists. Abraham Zere, the executive director of PEN Eritrea in exile, describes this as the start of “Eritrea’s transformation into the police state that it is today.” Shortly after being appointed Minister of Information by President Isaias in September 2001, Naizghi Kiflu, who oversaw the banning of all private media outlets and newspapers and ordering the arrests in September 2001, ordered all Eritrea’s printing houses to immediately cease printing, referring to journalists as a “bunch of rodents,” and declaring that “it is not that difficult for the Eritrean government to get rid of rodents.”

His successor, as de facto minister of information, Ali Abdu Ahmed, lifted the ban on printing but replaced it with detailed and pervasive censorship, including ordering lyrics to be changed in songs and chapters to be deleted or rewritten in books. The mechanisms of control were institutionalized and confined to ensuring only approved items went out on the official media. The result, Pen Eritrea points out, is a media apparatus that enables the President to say whatever he likes. He frequently gives “short interviews” to the national TV, interviews that run for about two hours. The president approves all questions beforehand and all the “journalists” have to do is help him transition from one topic to another and keep him talking. Typically, it says, the President may take about half an hour to respond to one question.

The editors of all the independent print media arrested in September 2001 were originally held in Asmara without being tried or charged. They went on hunger strike in March, 2002, and smuggled a message out of jail demanding due process. The government responded by transferring them to secret locations including some to the specially built and remote Eireiro detention centre where the G15 officials were held. Of the 11 journalists arrested in September 2001, over half are believed to have died in detention. Last year there were believed to be no more than four survivors, Dawit Isaak, Seyoum Tsehaye, Temesgen Gebreyesus and Emanuel Asrat, all still detained. Reporters without Borders have referred these cases to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

Over the years, officials have offered vague explanations for these arrests and other journalistic arrests, accusing the journalists of involvement in anti-state conspiracies, of avoiding military service, or violating press regulations. In an Al-Jazeera television interview in May 2008, the President had a slightly different approach, denying imprisoning any journalists: “There were never any. There aren’t any. You have been misinformed.” However, in response to questions about the Swedish-Eritrean Dawit Issak, President Isaias did claim Dawit had made “a big mistake,” adding “We will not have any trial and we will not free him.” Presidential adviser, Yemane Gebreab later claimed: Dawit had been arrested for “very serious crimes regarding Eritrea’s national security and survival as an independent state.” Dawit was awarded the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in March this year.

In fact, problems began to arise for Eritrea’s journalists long before 2001 and have continued since even for those employed by the state. As early as 1996, the government passed a law requiring all journalists and publications be licensed by the administration and for all publications to be submitted for government approval before dissemination. Some journalists were arrested in 2000, and underlining that, even state media journalists also work in a climate of intimidation, repression and tight control, many others have been detained in recent years.  Several working for the state Eri-TV were arrested in February 2002; and in February 2009 security forces raided the government-controlled Radio Bana and arrested its entire staff numbering dozens. Some were fairly quickly released, and eight more were reportedly released in April 2013. However, at least six are still detained. In early 2011 a number of journalists working for the government-controlled radio station, Dimtsi Hafash – “Voice of the Masses” – were arrested. They included people who worked for the Amharic, Tigrayan, and the Bilen language services. There were apparently allegations they had been supplying information to opposition radio stations broadcasting from Ethiopia, but in all these cases, no one appears to have been either charged or tried.

Today, PEN International says it is aware of at least 17 journalists currently held incommunicado or in circumstances amounting to enforced disappearance in Eritrea. The exact number is difficult to know as several are believed to have died under the appalling conditions of their detention. Equally, the numbers detained may well be an under-estimate.

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International hotel brands expand in Ethiopia
International hotel brands - Hyatt, Radisson Blu, Park Inn and Mariott - are set to open new hotels in Ethiopia, giving travellers more choice in accommodation.
The British Prime Minister’s newly appointed trade and investment envoy to Ethiopia, Mr Jeremy Lefroy MP, made his first official visit to Ethiopia where he met senior Government officials and discussed areas where the UK and Ethiopia can deepen their trade and investment relationship.
23 Oct 2017
British trade, investment envoy in debut visit
The weekly newsletter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ethiopia.
20 Oct 2017
A Week in the Horn
Meskerem, the first of the thirteen months which comprise the Ethiopian calendar, is quickly gaining traction as an idyllic time to visit Ethiopia, the Land of Origins.
19 Oct 2017
Discover Meskerem: Ethiopia’s Festival Season