France’s envoy to UN says AU efforts in Ethiopia not making sufficient headway

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France’s envoy to the United Nations says the efforts of African Union’s mediation in Ethiopia did not bear fruits as he made the case for a greater role for the Security Council in arresting the deteriorating military and humanitarian situation in that country.

Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere was speaking as France assumed the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of September. The Council has to date sought largely to defer to regional organisation in mediation efforts but France now warns that those efforts are not making sufficient headway.

With a resumption of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, concerns of a humanitarian catastrophe have only grown in recent weeks with questions as to whether the Security Council should take a greater role moving forward.

Nicola de Riviere, France’s Ambassador the UN and President of the Security Council for the month of September, says, “As the president of the Security Council, of course, France in September will be ready to organise any useful meeting on the subject. And I think that that will probably be the case. But I don’t exactly know when it was mentioned this morning during the breakfast that we had among the Security Council’s ambassadors, I think there is a desire on the part of several colleagues for that subject to be discussed from a humanitarian standpoint, of course, but also through political lens.”

Speaking in his national capacity, Ambassador De Riviere called into question the efficacy of the mediation efforts of AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, pointing to the recent resumption of hostilities after a months-long truce as tragic.

“This war is very regrettable, useless, bloody and clearly it does fall under the purview of the Security Council. Secondly, here we face a situation where the African Union and regional organisations wanted to take leadership on this crisis and deal with it as mediation by President Obasanjo. There’s a role that was given to President Kenyatta of Kenya. The African Union has tried to play a role and that’s a good thing. It’s difficult for the Security Council to act against the will and against the guidance of the regional organisation and sub-regional organisations. However, what I would say there is that when regional and sub-regional solutions find themselves at a deadlock and aren’t making headway and aren’t allowing progress to be found, there’s no reason why the Security Council can’t take the initiative once again and take leadership.”

The UN Secretary General earlier called for an immediate cessation of hostilities while the AU Commission Chair urged the parties to engage with Obasanjo but the Tigray People’s Liberation Front has largely rejected his role, accusing the AU of being an apologist for the Federal Government.

“The efforts of President Obasanjo have not borne fruit for the time being and so African efforts, unfortunately for the time being, have not helped achieve progress. So I’m not saying the Security Council will do any better, but it has the duty to try to,” says UN Secretary General António Guterres.

The UN has warned that the combination of drought, hunger and fighting has left Ethiopia in a very difficult humanitarian situation.