Tag: <span>ceasefire</span>

Tigray Appeals

Tigray: After the Calm, A Possible Storm.

Featured Image: Ethiopian national defense force 2nd Lt. Aweke Demesse talks with his troops on where to station their perimeter watches during Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s “Train the Trainer” course. By right, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

On August 26, 2022, there was the bombing by Ethiopian federal troops of a primary school in Mekelle—the capital city of the Tigray province, which had a population of about 500,000 before the fighting began. It is not clear if the attack brings to an end some five months of relative calm in the war-torn Tigray or not.

There was a non-negotiated ceasefire but no negotiations between representatives of the federal government and the Tigray Province. Many of the former officials of the Tigray Province have fled to other countries. Thus, it is not clear who is in a position to negotiate for the Tigray factions were negotiations to be undertaken.

Ethiopia is a federal republic structured on the basis of 10 provinces. Each province is named after the major ethnic group within the province. However, no province is populated exclusively by one ethnic group. Through history and economic development people have moved to areas beyond their original “homeland”.

Elections for the parliament of Tigray.

People from a “foreign” ethnic group can be made to feel as “second class citizens”, and there may be violence used against them in times of tensions.

Prior to 2018 when the current federal government led by Abiy Ahmed came to power, the Tigray People’s Liberation-led government played an important role in national politics for three decades.

Tensions between the federal government and the Tigray authorities came to a head in September 2020 when elections for the parliament of Tigray were held against the wishes of the federal government who wanted all elections postponed due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Thus, the central government said that the elections were “illegal”. The Tigray authorities replied by saying that they were claiming independence and wanted to leave the Ethiopian federation, a possibility, depending on one’s interpretation of the Ethiopian constitution.

Federal troops started moving into Tigray. The fighting in Tigray became more complex each day as Ethiopian Defence Forces, Eritrean Defence Forces and ethnic militias fought Tigrayan forces. There was a build-up of Sudanese government forces on the Ethiopian-Sudan border, where some 50,000 refugees have fled into Sudan.

Abiy Ahmed

Abiy Ahmed in 2018. By Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia, PDM-owner, via Wikimedia Commons.

A first appeal for a ceasefire and negotiations in good faith.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has spoken out of the human rights violations involving mass killings, rapes, and abduction of civilians when presenting a report to the Human Rights Council on November 3, 2021. However, she stressed the difficulties of collecting information and the impossibility to visit certain areas where massive violations were said to have taken place.

There are few signs of a willingness to deal with the deep consequences of the armed conflict, especially the consequences on food supplies. The Association of World Citizens, knowing the fragile nature of the confederation of provinces which make up the Ethiopian State had made a first appeal for a ceasefire and negotiations in good faith in November 2020 shortly after the fighting had started.

Appeals have also been made by United Nations and the African Union officials. Strong measures for conflict resolution are needed if a new storm of fighting is to be avoided. [IDN-InDepthNews – 31 August 2022]

Michelle BacheletMichelle Bachelet Jeria, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, former President of Chile. By UNCTAD, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

By René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Donetsk and Luhansk Appeals

Vital Autonomy for the People’s Republic of Donetsk and…

Featured Image: Return of released citizens to the territory controlled by Ukraine, December 29, 2019. By President.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

There are many dimensions to the current tensions on the Ukraine-Donbas-Russia frontiers, both geopolitical and domestic considerations.  There are long historic and strategic aspects to the current crisis.  Security crises are deeply influenced both by a sense of history and by current perceptions.  There have been bilateral discussions between U.S. and Russian authorities, between Russian and French leaders, between Russian and Chinese  leaders, between the Ukrainian leader and a number of others and multilateral discussions within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), within NATO, at the U.N. Security Council, and within the European Union.  For the moment, there has been no de-escalation of tensions nor a lowering  of troop levels.

Currently, there is only one permanent structure for multilateral negotiations on the Ukraine tensions – the “Normandy Format” which brings together the representatives of Ukraine and Russia, France and Germany primarily to negotiate on the status of the separatist People’s Republics.

Ukraine

The famous Independence Square in Kiev on a sunny day. Photo by Euan Cameron on Unsplash.

You might be interested in reading: Ukraine-Donbas-Russia: Can the Normandy Format Be Reactivated?.

Special Status.

The Minsk II Agreement of 12 February 2015 agreed that the areas covered by the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics would not be separated from Ukraine but would be given a “Special Status” set out in a new Ukrainian Constitution.  However, beyond some rather vague discussion on decentralization, the nature of the Special Status has not been agreed upon, and no Ukrainian government administrative measures have been put into place.

In the period since 2015, the socio-economic situation in the two People’s Republics has gotten worse.  Many people have left either for Ukraine or Russia.  There are constant violations of the ceasefire agreements which are monitored by observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.  Thus it its 15 December 2021 report the OSCE monitors noted that between 10-12 December, there were 444 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk region and 104 in the Luhansk region. However, the freedom of movement of the OSCE observers is restricted.  The number of violations, usually exchanges of small arms fire, is probably higher.

The Association of World Citizens.

Solving the Donbas aspect of the conflict on the basis of  a real and vital autonomy and trans-frontier cooperation should be a top priority for action. The Association of World Citizens has always stressed the importance of developing appropriate forms of government as a crucial aspect of the resolution of armed conflicts.  The Association has particularly highlighted the possiblities of con-federalism and the need for trans-frontier cooperation. The Association was involved at the start of the Abkhazia-Georgia conflict in August 1992 and the  first efforts at negotiations carried out in Geneva with representatives from Abkhazia who were in Geneva and officials from the United Nations and the  International Committee of the Red Cross.  Thus we know how a cycle of action-reaction can deepen a conflict and how difficult it is to re-establish structures of government once separation has been established.

The need to  progress on the structure of Ukraine stands out sharply at this time when there are real possibilities of escalatory risks.  There is a need for confidence-building measures reaching out to different layers of society in a cumulative process.  Advances on the Special Status would be an important step in the de-escalation of tensions.   As long as the two People’s Republics are kept weak, they will be dependent on support from Russia.  It is when they are economically and socially strong that they can have useful trans-frontier relations both with Russia and the rest of Ukraine. Discussions on the Special Status must be carried out by those living in Ukraine. 

However, government representatives as well as non-governmental organizations in Russia, Germany, and France can also contribute actively.  The new German Foreign Minister, the ecologist Annalena Baerbach, coming from a federalist-structured State with many local initiatives possible, may bring new visions to these discussions which are increasingly under way.

Annalena Baerbock

The new German Foreign Minister, the ecologist Annalena Baerbock.  By Stefan Kaminski (photography), Annalena Baerbock (full rights of use), CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Nagorno-Karabakh Appeals

Nagorno-Karabakh: Continuing Repercussions in Armenia.

This map describes the current situation in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but mostly governed by the de facto independent state, Republic of Artsakh. Image is a modified version of MarshallBagramyan’s map. File:Artsakh Occupation Map.png, Author:Elnur Hajiyev.

The November 2020; ceasefire agreement signed among the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia has provided some stability for the Nagorno-Karabakh area.  The 2000; Russian military dispatched quickly to the area has brought an end to the fighting.  The agreement stated that the Russian forces would stay for five years; but that their posting could be extended depending on the political situation.

When the fighting began on 27 September 2020; The Association of World Citizens;  which has been concerned with Nagorno-Karabakh; since the 1992 armed conflict; sent an urgent Appeal to the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia urging a ceasefire and the start of negotiations in good faith.  A follow up message was sent to the Ambassadors to the United Nations of the leadership of the Minsk Group of the OSCE (Russia, France, U.S.A.).

Azerbaijan-Turkish Aggression.

In Azerbaijan; the fighting which led to the ceasefire is widely considered as a “victory”; and has increased the popularity of the Azerbaijan President Iham Aliev.  However in Armenia; the fighting which led to a loss of seven districts around Nagorno-Karabakh; as well as one third of the Karabakh territory is considered as a “defeat”.

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pachinian; is under heavy negative pressure with calls that he resign.  In Armenia; many refer to the fighting as the “Azerbaijan-Turkish Aggression” – an image recalling the Armenian genocide within the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916.  Turkey had provided weapons and drones to Azerbaijan; which had an influence on the fighting.

 

No Longer Able to Make Reasonable Decisions.

On 25 February; the leaders of the Armenian armed forces demanded that the Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian; and his whole cabinet resign.  The army had said a few days earlier; that the Prime Minister was “no longer able to make reasonable decisions”; after he had fired some of the top military commanders.

On 25 February; the Prime Minister warned of an attempted military coup; and called on his supporters to gather on Republic Square at the heart of Yerevan.  A good number of people have gathered on 26 February; and some plan to camp there as a form of protection on the model of such “Occupy” efforts in Turkey, Ukraine, Egypt and Wall Street. One must hope that cooler heads will arise to bring about a decrease in the tensions; but it is still too early to say.

A situation which merits close attention.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.