On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reiterates its call for renewed and concerted efforts by all relevant authorities and stakeholders for transparent and inclusive processes that ensure lasting and sustainable solutions to violent conflicts. Although some levels of progress observed at regional and federal levels are encouraging, the number of communities and localities affected by conflict and the aftermath of conflict, including displacement and hunger, and the impact of violent conflict on the overall human rights situation in the country continue to be alarming.

In this regard, on November 3, 2023, in line with the global events marking #UDHR75, EHRC collaborated with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), to secure pledges from relevant government bodies and authorities in Ethiopia. In this globally coordinated initiative to renew governments’ commitment to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, high-level representatives of government “Took the Pledge” to ensure “Accountability for Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law” and to “Reinvigorate Civic Space and Media Landscape” in Ethiopia.

EHRC calls especially on the government to seize this opportunity, including by drawing into partnerships with all stakeholders, civil society and the international community, to strengthen and initiate processes for sustainable peace and dialogue. These processes include the ongoing process of establishing a victim-centred, credible and human rights compliant transitional justice policy framework and system as well as an inclusive national dialogue process compliant with international and regional standards and human rights principles.

As 2023 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Commission reiterates its call for deliberate and meaningful inclusion of women and women associations in the transitional justice and national dialogue processes. Indeed, as reported in its Annual Human Rights Situation Report (June 2022 to June 2023) and in many of its monitoring and investigation reports, conflicts, insecurity and attacks by armed groups continue to be the main drivers of suffering and human rights violations including sexual and gender-based violence.

As Human Rights Day also marks the conclusion of 16 Days of Activism against sexual and gender-based violence, commemorated widely this year with an offline and online campaign and other activities by national civil society and international partner organizations, EHRC recalls its recommendation for urgent, concrete and effective regional and federal intervention commensurate to the situation, including full and impartial investigations. Such efforts must be complemented by effective measures by federal and regional authorities to ensure accountability and justice for the victims.

Human Rights Day is also a day for reflection on the values and principles underpinning the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which is celebrated globally with events and activities highlighting the shared and common nature of these values. Ahead of its Annual Human Rights Film Festival, which will take place for the third time this year, across several cities in Ethiopia starting from December 11, 2023, EHRC also collaborated with OHCHR on a digital dissemination of a documentary on the history and provisions of the UDHR.

In a tweet to mark the day, EHRC Chief Commissioner Daniel Bekele, recalling the “momentous” nature of the day as it coincides with significant human rights anniversaries for Africa and the world, stated that “the values underpinning all human rights instruments are universal” and therefore “continue to inform human rights work in Ethiopia and globally”. Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Commissioner also said that “as we prepare to hold our Annual Human Rights Film Festival on December 11, 2023, within the guiding framework of the Human Rights Day theme for this year as well as EHRC’s motto of “All Human Rights For All At All Times”, I wish to convey the Commission’s call to all government and non-government, national and international stakeholders to ensure that these same universal and fundamental values and principles guide all their efforts and measures”.