Chronology of Events

revised on 6 January 2022

Ethiopia

June 2022

On 14 June, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced plans for peace negotiations. On the same day, the Tigrayan leadership released a letter saying they were willing to “participate in a credible, impartial and principled peace process” facilitated by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. This contrasts with the position held by the Ethiopian government, which on 27 June, said that the talks should be facilitated by the African Union and announced its team of negotiators.

April 2022

On 13 April, the Security Council held an annual open debate on conflict-related sexual violence (S/PV.9016). During the meeting, several Council members referred to the situation in Ethiopia. Hilina Berhanu, the first Ethiopian civil society representative to brief the Council since the conflict erupted in November 2020, highlighted several cases of conflict-related sexual violence in Ethiopia. She said that rape has been systematically perpetrated and used as a tactic of war, that sexual violence has been ethnically motivated and that it has been used to humiliate survivors and their communities.

On 14 April, Council members discussed the situation in Ethiopia under “any other business”. The meeting was requested by Gabon, Ghana and Kenya. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths briefed on the humanitarian situation in the country.

March 2022

On 24 March, the Ethiopian government declared “an indefinite humanitarian truce effective immediately”. On the same day, the Tigrayan leadership said they were committed to the cessation of hostilities, provided that adequate and timely humanitarian assistance reached Tigray. Following this development, on 1 April, Ireland circulated a draft presidential statement welcoming the humanitarian truce and calling for unimpeded humanitarian access and restoration of public services in Tigray. However, the initiative did not garner sufficient support and was abandoned.

January 2022

On 26 January, the Ethiopian government announced its decision to lift the nationwide state of emergency, which it had imposed on 2 November 2021 during the advance of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front towards Addis Ababa.

On 27 January, Council members discussed the situation in Ethiopia in a meeting under “any other business”. The meeting, which had a humanitarian focus, was requested by Albania, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed.

December 2021

On 19 December, the Tigrayan forces announced that they would withdraw to the borders of Tigray and declared an immediate cessation of hostilities.

On 20 December, Council members discussed the situation in Ethiopia under “any other business”. Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US requested the meeting. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed. The meeting focused mainly on the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia.

On 23 December, the Ethiopian government announced that its forces would not continue their counter-offensive against the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front across Tigray’s borders.

November 2021

On 5 November, Security Council members issued a press statement expressing “deep concern about the expansion and intensification of military clashes in northern Ethiopia” (SC/14691). In the statement, Council members called for the negotiation of a lasting ceasefire and for “refraining from inflammatory hate speech and incitement to violence”. The statement also called for the respect of international humanitarian law, unhindered humanitarian access, and the re-establishment of public services. It further welcomed the efforts of the AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo, to achieve a ceasefire and a resolution of the conflict. This was the second Council product on the conflict.

On 8 November, the Security Council held an open briefing followed by closed consultations on the situation in Ethiopia under the agenda item “Peace and Security in Africa” (S/PV.8899). Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo and Obasanjo briefed. The meeting was requested by Mexico, as the Council president for November, Ireland, and the “A3 plus one” (Kenya, Niger, Tunisia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). In her briefing, DiCarlo updated the Council on the challenging humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia and referenced the 3 November joint report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, which concluded that all parties to the conflict have perpetrated human rights, humanitarian and refugee law violations. Obasanjo called on the Council to urge the government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to engage in political dialogue without preconditions and to “rally behind the AU-led process in order to ensure coherence and unity of purpose”.

The meeting took place against the background of the escalation of the hostilities in northern Ethiopia, including a government-led campaign of aerial bombardments focusing mainly on Mekelle (the Tigrayan regional capital) and the takeover of two strategic towns in Amhara (Dessie and Kombolcha) by the TPLF between the 30 and 31 October which was followed, on 2 November, by the declaration of a nationwide state of emergency by the government.

On 9 November, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric announced that 16 national UN staff members were being detained in Ethiopia. While Council members considered a proposal for a press statement on the incident put forward by Ireland, the initiative did not garner sufficient support.

October 2021

On 1 October, Security Council members discussed the situation in Tigray under “any other business”. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed. The meeting was called in the aftermath of the 30 September announcement by the government of Ethiopia that seven UN officials working in the country had been declared “persona non grata” and were given 72 hours to leave Ethiopian territory. In a 1 October note verbale from the UN Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) to the government of Ethiopia, the OLA stated that the doctrine of persona non grata applies to diplomatic agents, not to UN officials.

On 6 October, the Council held an open briefing under the agenda item “Peace and Security in Africa” to discuss the situation in Ethiopia (S/PV.8875). UN Secretary-General António Guterres briefed. Regarding the humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia, Guterres said that fuel supplies, essential medicines, and equipment “continue[d] to be blocked” at a time in which up to 7 million people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar were in need of food aid and other emergency relief. Guterres said that the announcement of the expulsion of the seven UN officials was “particularly disturbing” and restated the UN position that the doctrine of persona non grata is not the appropriate procedure to respond to member states’ concerns regarding the conduct of UN personnel. During the meeting, Ambassador Taye Atske-Selassie (Ethiopia), who participated in accordance with rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure, accused the expelled officials of having fabricated data on the humanitarian situation in Ethiopia, including data related to hunger-related deaths. In response to Atske-Selassie’s remarks, Guterres took the floor again to state that he had not received any written documents from the Ethiopian government detailing the conduct of the expelled officials and asked to be provided with said documentation. At a press stakeout following the meeting, Guterres stressed that the UN’s only agenda in Ethiopia was to support the Ethiopian people and that it was his “duty to defend the honour of the United Nations”.

September 2021

On 15 September, the Security Council issued a presidential statement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The statement “encourages” Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to resume the AU-led negotiations to reach a “binding agreement” on the dam’s filling and operation “within a reasonable time frame” (S/PRST/2021/18). This was the first Security Council product on the issue. At the same time, the presidential statement also underscored that it did not “set out any principles or precedent in any other transboundary water disputes”. After the adoption, the representative of India took the floor to note that “as a general rule, transboundary water issues do not belong to the domain of the Security Council” (S/PV.8860).

August 2021

On 26 August, the Security Council convened for an open briefing and closed consultations on the situation in the Tigray region of Ethiopia under the agenda item “Peace and Security in Africa” (S/PV.8843). The meeting was requested by Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. The Permanent Representative of Ethiopia participated in the open briefing. UN Secretary-General António Guterres briefed the Council. Among other matters, he underscored that all parties to the conflict need to recognise that “there is no military solution” and called on them to “immediately end hostilities without preconditions”. Guterres condemned “in the strongest possible terms” conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence, and expressed concern over violations and abuses against civilians. He further stated that “foreign forces should leave the country” and that unrestricted humanitarian access must be granted to all areas in need. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths briefed in closed consultations.

July 2021

On 2 July, the Security Council convened for an open briefing on the situation in Tigray (S/PV.8812). The meeting was requested by Ireland, the UK and the US, and marked the first open Council session on Tigray since the inception of the crisis in November 2020. Delegates heard briefings by Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo and Acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Ramesh Rajasingham. The Permanent Representative of Ethiopia also participated in the meeting. The meeting took place following the takeover on 28 June of the Tigrayan regional capital Mekelle by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the declaration by the Ethiopian government of a unilateral ceasefire on the same day. The federal forces captured Mekelle on 28 November 2020 during the early phases of the conflict.

On 8 July, the Council held an open briefing on the dispute between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) (S/PV.8816). The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga; the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen; and Paul Losoko Efambe Empole of the Permanent Mission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the current AU Chair of the African Union, briefed. The meeting was requested by Tunisia. This was the second Security Council meeting on the GERD and was convened against the backdrop of the second filling of the dam by Ethiopia.

June 2021

At the request of Ireland, on 15 June, Security Council members convened an in-person informal interactive dialogue (IID) on the humanitarian situation in Tigray. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock and the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley, briefed. Issues discussed during the IID included: food insecurity, the need for a scaled-up humanitarian response, the presence of Eritrean troops and the need for a cessation of hostilities. A representative of Ethiopia participated in the meeting.

April 2021

On 15 April, at the request of the US, Council members held a closed videoconference (VTC) meeting under “any other business”. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock briefed. Among other issues, he underscored serious concerns regarding food insecurity and conflict-related sexual violence.

On 22 April, Council members released a press statement on the humanitarian situation in Tigray (SC/14501). While acknowledging the efforts of the government of Ethiopia to provide humanitarian assistance, Council members noted that challenges remained and called for a scaled-up response and unfettered humanitarian access. Council members further expressed deep concern over the allegations of human rights violations, including sexual violence, and welcomed the establishment of a joint investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission into alleged human rights violations and abuses. This was the first Security Council product on Tigray. 

March 2021

On 4 March, the members of the Security Council met to discuss the humanitarian situation in Tigray during a closed videoconference (VTC) meeting under “any other business”. The meeting was held at the request of Ireland, supported by Estonia, France, Norway, the UK, and the US. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock briefed. Noting that around 4.5 million people in Tigray were in need of humanitarian aid, Lowcock called for increased humanitarian assistance.

February 2021

On 3 February, Council members held a closed videoconference (VTC) meeting under “any other business” to discuss the humanitarian situation in Tigray. The meeting was held at the request of Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, and the US. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock briefed, emphasising the need to protect civilians and allow unimpeded humanitarian access to Tigray.

December 2020

At the request of Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, the UK and the US, Security Council members met on 14 December to discuss the humanitarian situation in Tigray under “any other business”. OCHA’s Deputy Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Wafaa Saeed briefed, calling on the conflict parties to respect international humanitarian law.

November 2020

Following months of rising tensions, in early November conflict erupted between the government of Ethiopia and the ruling party of the Tigray region of Ethiopia, the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Overnight between 3 and 4 November, Tigrayan forces attacked the federal army’s Northern Command. In response, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military intervention in Tigray on 4 November. The Tigrayan leadership stated that the attack on the Northern Command was carried out in anticipation of the federal armed intervention.

On 24 November, as the crisis unfolded, members of the Security Council convened to discuss the situation in Tigray under “any other business”. During the meeting, members expressed concern about the impact of the fighting on civilians, emphasised the need to de-escalate the conflict, and expressed support for regional engagement to resolve the conflict. This was the first time the situation in Tigray was discussed by Council members. In a statement released on the same day, the Secretary-General expressed concern over the situation in Tigray and the surrounding area, and urged “the leaders of Ethiopia” to protect civilians, uphold human rights and ensure humanitarian access.

On 28 November, after capturing Mekelle (the Tigrayan regional capital), Abiy announced the completion of the government’s military operations in the region. Hours later, TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael stated that the TPLF would continue to fight the federal government.

June 2020

On 29 June, the Security Council held an open videoconference (VTC) meeting to discuss the dispute among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) (S/2020/636). The meeting was held under the agenda item “Peace and Security in Africa”. Invoking article 35 of the UN Charter, Egypt, a non-Council member, requested the meeting in a letter sent to the Council on 19 June. Briefing the Council, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo stressed that differences among the parties could be overcome through compromise, in line with the spirit of cooperation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles. This was a declaration through which Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan committed to a set of principles, including prioritising cooperation, agreeing not to cause significant harm, peaceful settlement of disputes, and equitable and reasonable utilisation, among other things.