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Peace in the African Union Must Start with the Host

Ethiopia is the host nation of the African Union. One of the African Union’s stated goals has been “to promote unity and solidarity among African states.”1 This laudable goal has been opposed not in words, but in action by the host nation, Ethiopia. Ethiopia has embarked on a decades long course of action contrary to not only the principles of the African Union, but to International law.

The principle of adherence to international obligations is one of those that States are bound to as part of a respect for their internal sovereignty. Without this adherence to international obligations (e.g. agreements between states; either bilateral or multilateral) the agreements made between States hold little value. As the seat of the African Union, Ethiopia ought to be held to the highest standard as it is the African Union’s charter2 (and it’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity’s charter3 ) that has been the basis of African peace.

To the contrary, Ethiopia has attempted to abrogate numerous treaties between itself and the colonial actors which it settled treaties with as well as with other African states. Some of these treaties include:

  • Rome Protocol of 1891
  • Ethio-Italo Treaty of 1900
  • Ethio-Italo Treaty of 1902
  • Ethio-Italo Treaty of 1908
  • Addis Ababa Treaty of 1902
  • African Treaty for Natural Resources Conservation of 1968
  • United Nations Human Environment Conference of 1972
  • International Rivers Law of 1973
  • The Algiers Agreement of 2000

The implications of Ethiopia’s policy have come to a head as it has prepared a possibly devastating policy on other African countries. In particular, Ethiopia has colluded with other African countries to focus strictly on their self-interest to the detriment of other African countries. Eritrea’s position on regional matters such as this (both within the context of IGAD and the African Union) is clear, all affected parties should engage with one another to come to a mutually acceptable conclusion.

In combination with this policy however, Eritrea has consistently advocated for the adherence to agreements made in the past until new agreements are made. This is directly contrary to the policy pursued by Ethiopia which has taken essentially unilateral action (in relation to those affected by its decision) and prepared to restrict flow to its downstream neighbors, putting at risk the lives of 1 in 10 Africans.

In a related issue, Ethiopia in 2006 unilaterally invaded Somalia committing over 20,000 troops to the adventure. Similarly, for the past eleven years (from 2002-2013) Ethiopia has maintained an illegal occupation of Eritrean territories.4

It is incumbent upon Africans of all stripes, strides and creeds to put aside their differences and press the Government of Ethiopia to appreciate the harm it is pushing on other Africans in pursuit of its own self interest and not be a spoiler to the region.


  1. The African Union in a Nutshell 

  2. African Union Charter 

  3. OAU Charter 

  4. See more on the Ethiopian Occupation 

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