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Foreign Conflicts

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 4 November 2021

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Questions (279)

Éamon Ó Cuív


279. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if Ireland has raised the ongoing Tigrayan genocide in Ethiopia in the UN Security Council and in the EU; if the concern that the genocide is being aided by a company (details supplied) which is allowing genocidal posts on its platform from prominent Ethiopians has also been raised; if so, the response received; the further actions being proposed by Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53825/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I am deeply concerned by the worsening crisis in Ethiopia, as the conflict in Tigray and other parts of northern Ethiopia extends further throughout the country. The declaration by the Ethiopian government on 2 November of a state of emergency is indicative of a continuing deterioration in the situation. As famine-like conditions are reported, and in light of ongoing military clashes, there is a pressing need for full humanitarian access, a negotiated ceasefire, and political dialogue to find a resolution to the conflict.

Ireland continues to strongly advocate for urgency in the response to the crisis, and for a peaceful resolution to the conflict - through our bilateral engagement, our EU membership, and at the UN Security Council.

Ireland is at the forefront of efforts at the UN Security Council to address the conflict in Tigray and other parts of northern Ethiopia, including calling for the most recent open meeting on 6 October, where the UN Secretary General denounced Ethiopia’s expulsion of seven senior UN officials. In the light of the intensification of military clashes, including recent airstrikes on Tigray, we continue to work for Security Council action to help promote a resolution of the crisis.

The Government also continues to support a strong and constructive EU response to the crisis. At the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 18 October, Minister Coveney and EU Ministers for Foreign Affairs continued their discussion on ways to ensure humanitarian access, and to press the parties to engage in dialogue. The need to support African Union efforts, including that of Special Envoy President Obasanjo, was particularly emphasised. There will be a further discussion on Ethiopia and Tigray at the Foreign Affairs Council on 15 November, in which Minister Coveney will participate. He also plans to travel to Ethiopia when possible to speak directly with Ethiopian leaders.

I am also alarmed by the conflict’s impact on civilians, including harrowing reports of widespread and ongoing sexual violence, and other serious violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. The joint investigation published this week by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate reported atrocities is a vital first step towards accountability.

At the Security Council, Ireland has called on all parties to refrain from using inflammatory rhetoric and dehumanizing language, which serves only to fuel ethnic tensions across Ethiopia. Online hate speech threatens our fundamental aspirations under the UN Charter, to safeguard human rights and achieve fundamental freedoms for all.

The term genocide has a particular meaning under international law, while definitive recognition of a genocide involves a complex analysis of both facts and law. Ireland follows the practice of recognising genocide only where this has been established by a final decision of a court in the State or a final decision of an international court or tribunal, or where there is international consensus on the matter.

Ireland has consistently called for those responsible for any violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human rights law concerning the conflict to be held accountable.

Question No. 280 answered with Question No. 276.