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United Nations

Joint Statement for the Item 8 General Debate on Expulsion of UN Officials led by the UK, 4 October 2021

Ethiopia/UN Expulsions – Item 8 Joint Statement

Thank you very much Madam Vice President.

As you said, I am delivering this statement on behalf of over 40 countries.

The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action states that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are a legitimate concern of the international community and must be considered as a priority of the United Nations. The universal nature of these rights and freedoms is beyond question.

The Declaration recognizes that gross violations of human rights, including in armed conflicts, are among the multiple factors leading to displacement of people, and emphasizes the importance of humanitarian assistance to victims of all disasters, including those that are a result of human activity. It stresses the importance of giving attention to, and finding lasting solutions for, questions related to internal displacement. It states explicitly that this includes the important work provided by intergovernmental and humanitarian organizations.

So, Madame Vice President, we are therefore shocked and dismayed by the Federal Government of Ethiopia’s decision to expel seven prominent UN representatives from Addis Ababa, including the representatives of UNICEF and OCHA, and a senior official from the OHCHR office, who was working on the OHCHR/Ethiopian Human Rights Commission Joint Investigation into the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, which is due to report, as we know, on 1st November.

Madame Vice President, we reaffirm our strong support for UN agencies and their staff in Ethiopia, who work on a neutral and impartial basis. Their work is vital in responding to the multiple humanitarian crises that Ethiopia is facing, and to the continued reports of human rights violations and abuses, particularly in the North of Ethiopia, including credible reports of sexual and gender based violence.

Madame President, we call on the Government of Ethiopia immediately to reverse its decision to expel these officials, and to allow them to return to Ethiopia to continue their work without further impediment.

Their return would allow them to contribute to lasting solutions to the many human rights related challenges which Ethiopia is facing throughout the country, an approach which the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action supports in the clearest terms.

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