By Prof. Tesfay Aradom,
Eritrea has appeared twice in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, accepted 92 recommendations and is actively working to implement them. It has established fruitful cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Additionally, it has invited a number of thematic mandate holders to visit the country“. This is an excerpt from the address of Eritrea’s Head of delegation, Mr. Yemane Ghebreab, to the 32nd session of the UNHCR.
In preparation for the UPR, the Government of Eritrea (GOE) had indeed produced and delivered several comprehensive, substantive and empirical reports that earned both favorable reviews and constructive recommendations from the vast majority of the member states. The UPR mechanism, it must be recalled, is the interactive platform for all UN member States to submit their own perspectives and self-assessment of human rights challenges and policies in their respective countries for peer review by other member States in accordance with universal norms and templates.
In this respect, the critical question to ask is why has the UNHRC abandoned this mechanism in the case of Eritrea to set off a parallel, country-specific, instrument for purposes and intentions that are evidently not constructive and benign? Who are the architects of this scheme? Is the discriminatory and selective process chosen for Eritrea warranted by special circumstances justied by peculiar or grave situations that exist in Eritrea only? These and other questions are indeed relevant in order to properly put into perspective and decipher the machinations on display in Geneva.
The original resolution that accused Eritrea for “gross violation of human rights” was tabled by Djibouti and Somalia in 2013. This led to the appointment of the Special Rapporteur on Eritrea which spiraled into the establishment of the “Commission of Inquiry” (COI) in 2014. In all these instances, the front countries that tabled the resolutions were veritable bogymen who were duly performing the bidding of Washington that was in reality calling the shots behind the curtain. Djibouti and Somalia were hand-picked to act as Trojan Horses simply because the United States wanted to give an African semblance to the whole exercise.
It is noteworthy that the events at the Human Rights Council (HRC) are a continuation of the repeated attempts by the United States to denigrate Eritrea and compromise its political, economic and social achievements to weave the “human rights story”, a despicable plan to continue to stalk an innocent small nation with the desperate and futile hope of gradually effecting a social implosion and subsequent “regime change”.
It must be recalled that the UN has been instrumentalized in the past too. The US supported “Bevin-Sforza” plan, which unsuccessfully attempted to mutilate the nation and wreak havoc on its nascent nationalism is a case in point. Furthermore, this same institution had also imposed the “federal” arrangement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, against the expressed wishes of the Eritrean people, mainly to serve the geopolitical interests of the US and with the aim of turning Ethiopia into a “ready and willing regional watchdog”.
In this context, Ethiopia’s pugnacious attitude toward Eritrea and repeated violations of international agreements have less to do with its internal capacity and resources and more with its enablers’ consistent willingness to squander massive economic resources and continue to provide it with enormous military and diplomatic support. To this date, Ethiopia continues to occupy, in flagrant breach of the “final and binding” EEBC delimitation and demarcation decision of 2002, sovereign Eritrean territories including Badme and its environs.
Needless to say, Ethiopia’s most recent belligerent posturing and unprovoked military adventures are a clear violation of the Eritrean people’s right to live in a stable, safe and secure environment. In this regard, the silence of the international community and/or hollow statement from the UNSG’s office can only embolden the minority regime in Ethiopia to persist in its reckless policies with dangerous ramifications to peace and stability in the Horn of Africa.
In the meantime, the COI continues to deliberately gloss over important facts on the ground to remain fixated on producing scandalous reports replete with unsubstantiated allegations cobbled together from dubious sources. What is appalling and hard to fathom is COI’s untenable selective bias when it relies for its report on testimonies of some 700 “asylum seekers” and obscure elements while dismissing, offhand, written submission of 42,000 other Eritreans in the Diaspora signed petitions of more than 200,000 Eritreans and foreigners who have a better handle on the real situation that prevails in the country.
Mr. Yemane’s insightful statement clearly demonstrates the political motivation behind such intrigues, “the Commission has ignored all positive developments in Eritrea, including, but not limited to, any consideration of economic, social and cultural rights, violating the principle of indivisibility and complementarity of human rights”.
In this perspective, COI’s vain attempts to trivialize the GOE’s impressive and widely acknowledged achievements in education and health is simply untenable and smacks of an utterly biased approach that cannot accommodate any positive narrative of the country it has set out to impugn with a singular mind.
In a nutshell, it has now become abundantly clear that the goal of Eritrea’s detractors has never been to conduct a genuine “investigation of the human rights situation in the country” out of benign concerns for the welfare of the Eritrean people. The objective has all along been and remains sinister; to wreak havoc to a small nation in the Horn of Africa where peace and stability are not under imminent threat from rampant ethnic and religious fault lines; where sustainable and positive socio-economic transformation is taking root. So, it makes one wonder whose actions constitute crimes against humanity; the actions of the victim nation or the wayward machinations of its principal detractors?