US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed the press on March 21, 2023, regarding several global issues, including the release of an American citizen held hostage for over six years, the ongoing meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the 2022 Human Rights Report. However, his remarks on Ethiopia were particularly notable.
Blinken commended both sides in the northern Ethiopia conflict for the significant progress made in implementing the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. Still, he noted that lasting peace would require acknowledging the atrocities committed by all parties, along with accountability and reconciliation. The Secretary of State stated that members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the Eritrean Defense Forces, Tigray People’s Liberation Front forces, and Amhara forces committed war crimes during the conflict in northern Ethiopia, including crimes against humanity.
The Ethiopian government’s recent public release of a detailed green paper of transitional justice options based on best practices and its invitation of human rights monitors from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to conflict-affected areas were welcomed by Blinken. The government is also holding public consultations about transitional justice, which should include all stakeholders and provide victims a voice, he said.
Blinken urged Ethiopia and Eritrea’s governments and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front to hold those responsible for atrocities accountable. He stated that acknowledging the abuses, accountability, and reconciliation are essential to breaking the cycle of ethnic and political violence that has long gripped Ethiopia.
The Secretary of State’s comments on Ethiopia underscored the US government’s commitment to promoting human dignity and justice around the world. His statements also highlighted the need for accountability and reconciliation in resolving the conflict in northern Ethiopia, as well as the importance of inclusivity and giving victims a voice in the process.