Ethiopia at the U.N.: Tigray ‘Criminal Group’ Is ‘Hell-Bent on Destroying Foundation of Our Country’

Ethiopias Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Demeke Mekonnen Hassen ad

Ethiopia Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen, who also serves as foreign minister, devoted very little of his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday to discussing the brutal two-year civil war that heated up again over the past few weeks.

He spent no time at all responding to the allegations of war crimes and human rights atrocities against both his government and its adversaries.

Mekonnen spent far more time on climate change and his view that developed nations should compensate Third World countries more heavily for the alleged effects of the “climate crisis.”

“Although climate change and the resulting extreme weather conditions occur throughout the globe, the crisis largely affects the minimally resilient and the least responsible for causing the problem. A case in point is our region, the Horn of Africa, which in some parts is hit by record-level drought while sustaining extreme flooding in other parts,” he said.

“I must emphasize, Africa is not responsible for the historic emissions that caused the climate crisis. Yet, we are the ones making the most tangible contribution to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” he asserted.

Mekonnen lamented the failure of the U.N. to “achieve true universality” because “Africa has no permanent seat at the U.N. Security Council.” 

There are currently only five permanent Security Council members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ten other nations are elected to rotating two-year terms as temporary members.

“Our quest for African solutions to African problems is yet to be given the respect and support it deserves. We believe these considerations underpin the credibility of the Council in the continent,” he said.

Mekonnen took a moment in his speech to tout the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, only briefly hinting at the regional controversy surrounding the project.

“All the glory and gratitude go to the people of Ethiopia who financed this project. The dividend goes far and wide to the entire region,” he declared.

Egypt and Sudan objected to the project and remain deeply concerned that Ethiopia’s dam will cut off the flow of Nile waters they depend on for irrigation and drinking water. Sudan has already complained about unannounced Ethiopian reductions of the downstream water level.

Mekonnen said Ethiopia is committed to “equity and cooperation in the use of transboundary rivers” and intends to “continue in good faith the trilateral negotiation under the auspices of the African Union to reach a mutually acceptable outcome.”

Mekonnen delivered only the most elliptical and one-sided description of the vicious Ethiopian civil war, and refrained from naming his government’s chief adversary, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), or any of the other parties to the conflict. He did not mention the TPLF’s claim that troops from Ethiopia’s neighbor Eritrea have launched a major offensive across the border to support the Ethiopian central government.

Mekonnen said only that “the heinous and treasonous attack” was launched against the Ethiopian National Defense Forces in November of 2020, and the “criminal group” responsible “remains hell-bent in destroying the societal foundation of our country colluded with external actors opposed to our development aspirations.”

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi R meets with Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen in New York, the United States, on Sept. 19, 2022. (Photo by Liu Jie/Xinhua via Getty Images)

“The Government of Ethiopia has earnestly tried to avoid this conflict. Regrettably, our efforts to prevent the conflict from igniting were not successful,” he said.

“Thanks to the resolve and determination of Ethiopians, the designs of our adversaries against Ethiopia’s progress have been frustrated. We have also paved a path for peace and recovery relying on the ability of the peace-loving people of Ethiopia to reconcile, make peace among ourselves, and start the process of healing,” Mekonnen said.

That is, to put it mildly, not the way international observers see the state of affairs in Ethiopia, including the United Nations. On Thursday, the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) said it had “reasonable grounds” to believe both the Ethiopian federal government and the TPLF have committed crimes against humanity since 2020, “some amounting to war crimes.”

UNHRC accused the government Mekonnen represents of using starvation as a weapon against the Tigrayans, as well as “extrajudicial killings, rape, and sexual violence.” Similar allegations were leveled against the TPLF, which has been brutal in its treatment of neighboring tribal groups.

The Ethiopian government responded by claiming it has been “the subject of unfair and biased scrutiny at [UNHRC] for more than a year.”

On Friday, U.N. monitors reported hostilities continued in Ethiopia and complained that all parties to the conflict are interfering with humanitarian aid shipments.


In his remarks to the U.N. General Assembly, Mekonnen repeated his government’s assertion that it has not been treated fairly by human rights monitors.

“We thus call for support to our agenda for peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction. We also urge respect for and support to the AU-led peace process. Any other approach, including the politicization of human rights and unilateral coercive measures will not yield any positive outcome,” he said.

The AU is the African Union, a regional cooperative organization that has been attempting to negotiate a peace treaty in Ethiopia. The AU said on Thursday that its efforts were thwarted when Eritrean troops moved into Ethiopia, a criticism seconded by the European Union and U.S. government.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.