Table of Contents
presentation and evaluation of the placement...3
procedure to find internship and presentation of the EEPA...3
Description of living situation linked to internship...4
evaluation of internship...5
presentation and evaluation of the placement
procedure to find internship and presentation of the EEPA
When considering where to apply, my first consideration was whether to select an internal or external outlook. While I have always had a tendency of looking outwards from the European Union I had never truly taken the time to study it genuinely for itself instead of for what it produces.
I had initially sought out a position with Volt, looking to experience the Union’s internal processes from an electoral politics perspective. One that I am less familiar with but is critical to my main center of interest of foreign policy. In the mean time, as we all did, I applied to multiple other organizations, and one particularly caught my eye. The EEPA, or European External Programme with Africa, presented the structural and topical traits which I knew I enjoyed. A smaller structure, a focus on Africa, although on a region I had never personally experienced, and an interesting mix of vocation between think tank and lobbying. Volt represented a desire for a new experience, in a way seeking discomfort almost to ensure I could eliminate it as a desirable option while the EEPA meant going down a track I instinctively knew I enjoyed. In the end, circumstances dictated that they contacted me before Volt, facilitating my choice.
In seeking out internship opportunities I turned to the official list of lobbies active with the European institutions. Filtering out by topic and locations, as I did specifically seek to work in Bruxelles, I sifted through the various groups, setting aside the most promising ones. Then of course comes the somewhat tedious and mechanical task of sending out applications, of course a curriculum vitae as well as an adapted motivation letter with the occasional specific added criteria depending on application procedures. Not using Likedin here definitely put me at a disadvantage as it unfortunately is essentially a necessity. Though I cannot help but feel like it is a sort of modern
“livret ouvrier”, or labor booklet, taken straight out of 1781. Of course spontaneous applications imply few answers and even fewer positive ones. Thankfully the EEPA sent me a positive email and a few days later I was able to interview via zoom with Klara Smits, who would later become my supervisor, and Kristina Melicherova, a researcher for the organization. The call took the form of a rather informal conversation where they started by introducing the vocation of the EEPA as well as my role I if I were to be selected. This was followed by a conversation about what I had to offer in
regards to the position as well as practical information such as dates of employment remuneration etc. Following the call it was convened that we would take contact after a few days of reflection.
Fortunately I received a positive answer on their part and the following steps mostly concerned practical aspects of the contract. Overall a very straightforward process.
The EEPA is a non governmental organization based in Bruxelles. They specialize in issues of peace building, refugee protection and resilience in the region of the Horn of Africa. In relations to these issues it describes itself as a center of expertise on the European Union’s external policy and is registered as a lobby to the commission. The EEPA is committed to a vision of a socially responsible Europe and attempts to promote the realization of this vision by acting on the EU’s legal framework, budget and allocation of resources. In order to promote this socially responsible Europe, it collaborates with a wide range of actors. Including both governmental and non governmental.
With the explicit desire to see actors of the global South included in the evaluation and analysis of the impact of European policy. The organization has carried out research and taken actions in the following areas in the context of the advancement of inclusive development: “EU aid effectiveness;
EU budget and laws; human rights (democratization and good governance); Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); children’s rights (including education and child labor); health; gender equality and the empowerment of women; justice; HIV/AIDS; climate change; and trade.” Looking at the EEPA’s action we find 3 axis of action: research and monitoring, advocacy consultation and networking and facilitation of meetings and conferences. Research and monitoring are mainly oriented towards the betterment of EU development cooperation; this includes EU law, budget and aid effectiveness, trade, human rights, gender, health education and the MDGs (millennium development goals). EU activities and institutions are also monitored regarding specific development related issues. As pertains to advocacy, consultation and networking, the EEPA strives to act as an agent able to provide expertise in regards to public campaigns. Questions such as who to contact, timing of actions, documentation, politicization of the events and who to collaborate with. The EEPA can rely on a network of contacts in order to facilitate this. Finally regarding the facilitation of meetings and conferences, the EEPA facilitates conferences, meetings or seminars in or outside of Europe. Facilitating meetings between clients and European institutions and Member states.
Description of living situation linked to internship
Regarding financial aspects of the placement. Life in Bruxelles is expensive. It was definitely a drawback to me that remuneration was rather low (8 euros a day). However the reality of interning in our domain and increasingly in most sectors, is that competition is such that free to near free labor remunerated in experience has sadly become the norm. it is interesting to note that Belgian law itself really complicates the remuneration of interns, my legal status as a volunteer being a typical loophole used to remunerate this type of labor. In the end, I would much rather work for cheap for something I am passionate about. Needless to say I am eternally grateful for Erasmus grants.
As previously mentioned, Bruxelles is an expensive city to live in. Housing, which was not previously much of an issue, has skyrocketed in price for students. Francophone Belgium has become increasingly attractive as a destination to French students due to educational reforms in France. Initially mostly concentrated in specific fields such as physiotherapy where places to study were limited in France, the reforms to their masters programs has meant that an increasing amount of French students unable to study their field of choice turn to Belgium where spaces are not limited. Consequently competition for space dedicated to students and interns that was previously definitely present but manageable has now gone out of control and so have prices. Renting a room for less than a year, one can expect a strict minimum of 400 without utilities. Counting about 600 (all included) on average for rent is standard and one should start searching early. In terms of other living costs Bruxelles, while not a big city by any means, remains a capital and prices are in ad- equation with this “status”. This has only been made worse by inflation. Depending on the neighborhood you live in you may be able to regularly access typically Turkish or Moroccan super markets or the regular open air markets such as in Gare du Midi where food can be much cheaper than in supermarkets. In the absence of this option, food bills can be quite substantial. On the flip side, the Belgian state and government of Bruxelles heavily subsidizes public transportation and access to culture meaning “entertainment” is usually very accessible.
evaluation of internship
When looking back at the placement plan produced before the internship, I was happy to find that for the most part I had gotten from the experience what I had wanted from it. To briefly list my expectations going in to this internship I hoped to acquire the following skills. To quote myself I looked forwards to acquiring the “ability to clearly synthesize large amounts of information (…) increasing my ability to effectively communicate in a formal environment. (…) [T]the opportunity
to witness the dynamics of negotiation of power (between European institutions and civil society), (..) I expect to be tested regarding my flexibility”.
In terms of supervision, I could hardly have wished for a better experience. Though irregularly present physically in office due to the nature of the organization and her personal work, Klara Smits, my supervisor, provided a very enjoyable mix availability, oversight and trust in my ability to execute. Due to various circumstances, the internship turned out to be a rapid dive into the tasks that would be mine for four months. Though somewhat intimidating at first, the thrilling nature of the subject, personal passion for it and sound guidance from Klara meant that I was ultimately able to begin acquiring not only the technical skills for the realization of the products expected from me but also the knowledge required to provide if not insight then at least clear explanation and coherence. It was fantastic to be able to learn about the extremely complex modern history of the Horn of Africa. Klara proved very resourceful in allowing me to understand the complex power interplay, pressure points and motivators and constraints proper to the regional and global actors present in as timely a manner as possible. Ultimately, the proof of her success as a supervisor in my eyes lies in her ability to make me rapidly capable of analyzing a situation I had limited prior knowledge of and producing intelligible content on it.
To evaluate my personal takeaways from the placement I should expand a little on the nature of the tasks that where assigned to me. I was assigned two different cyclical deliverables. Weekly
“news highlights” recouping news from all sources regarding relations between the EU and the Horn of Africa and North Africa, European migration policy and regional politics in the Horn of Africa itself. In addition to this, a daily deliverable consisting of a “situation reports” became a part of my responsibilities. This two page document was a condensed format of all relevant news regarding the Horn region. It was built based on news sources, reports produced by governments, Intentional Organizations and NGOs alike as well as on reports of various sources on the ground or not. The two last and more sporadic tasks were linked to the production of reports linked with outstanding political events in our field such as the European Asylum law reforms and instrumentalization legislation. And then the “lobbying” activities. The bulk of the supervision was effected on the cyclical deliverables.
As previously stated what I hoped from this internship was an increase in my “ability to clearly synthesize large amounts of information (…) increasing my ability to effectively communicate in a formal environment. (…) [T]the opportunity to witness the dynamics of negotiation of power (between European institutions and civil society), (..) I expect to be tested
regarding my flexibility”. What came of this? Starting with synthetization. The imperatives of the journalistic writing style I learned to adopt in the situation reports and news highlights meant that making the point immediately clear was the priority. Summarizing between 2 to 5 articles in a paragraphs for the highlights and condensing the daily “narrative” of often 40 to 50 articles or other sources in the situation reports within 2 pages forces an adaptation of the way of reading and consuming information itself. The contextualization work done by a piece of writing becomes fundamentally peripheral and the core information much more discernible, a very valuable skill to enhance. But it was in the production of succinct, to the point text that progress was most needed and, once more with the help of my supervisor, was achieved. Distancing myself from the french cultural trait of considering “good writing” to be made up of long complex sentence was one of the main challenges. A close competitor being finding the Pareto efficient balance between integrity and the production of a message that retained its complexity and simplicity of understanding combined with spacial requirements.
When it comes to building capacity in terms of formal communication the result is less black and white. The EEPA presented a quite informal work environment meaning that on a daily work basis the constraints in that regard were much less than they could have been. However communication with external actors presented the opportunity to familiarize myself with linguistic practices required in the context of a work environment. This point bleeds into the third objective of
“witness the dynamics of negotiation of power (between European institutions and civil society)”.
The sole complaint I truly have regarding the experience was the limited “lobbying” components of my work load. Of course this is linked to circumstances and stems from events that occurred largely beyond the control of the EEPA. This however implied for me that I only had limited opportunities and insight into those processes. While I had the chance to participate in two email campaigns they never turned into direct, oral, contacts with EUPs or the Commission; an experience I would have cherished. Same goes for events organization. For reasons of circumstances the projects never fully matured. While this presents lessons in and of itself, I cannot help but feel that it does not compensate the experience their potential successes would have provided me with.
Finally, regarding flexibility. The bulk of work being made up of regular periodic deliverables facilitated a routinization of the work load. However the occasional change of pace, be it for an extra article, the preparation of one of the email campaigns or assignation to a side project occasionally threw a wrench in this routine providing the opportunity for time management exercises of sort. Now while the work load was certainly not overbearing and in the routine was very manageable time wise the occasional acceleration of pace due to increased work load combined with certain “climactic” events transpiring occasionally made for quite intense bouts of work. Overall certainly not a dive in the deep end but still a worthwhile exercise.
This placement confirmed something which had become increasingly clear to me. I do not wish to work in the European institutions. While I certainly had had dreams of doing so as a child, the closer I got to them the less it seemed appealing. One because it feels too much like a constraining environment. Two because it always appealed to me as a means of affecting change, and institutional inertia almost dictates that joining them to “change them from the inside” is a mostly futile and deeply frustrating endeavor. And lastly because it has become clear that it does not align with my personal development needs and wants. Impostor syndrome is something I suffer from and I believe it is for the better. Within a certain limit I believe we would all benefit from suffering from it a little. It keeps us grounded and reflexive. My knowledge of my propensity for it pushes me to want to see the world for what it is when I still can this internship confirmed to me that I want to work in the field when I am young. I do fear the idea of finding myself behind an office, feeling like I work on and for people and subjects I do not understand and cannot empathize with. While “humanitarian” work was not something I had considered before, I had more privileged a peace building/capacity building oriented world, the understanding of the interplay and connection between the two worlds that the continuous contact with information in a conflict region has provided me with means that I am much more open to having this first hand contact with the field in a plurality of other organizations with different nominal goals. In the end project management is just that and politics penetrates all. I want to feel useful, see reality and come back to hopefully provide work that does not resemble that of falsified explorer diaries so popular in Europe in the 19th century; based solely on others renditions of their voyages.
The subject of the placement report was initially one that I considered dedicating a case study to in the context of my thesis. However, for a multiplicity of reasons such as limited data, its recent nature, reliance on leaks, and characterization by absence, it was more reasonable to use it here. It could perhaps also serve as a form of introduction to the thesis; focusing on a historicization and problematization of the space that peace building and peace keeping occupies in the European imaginary of what constitutes the ideologically acceptable extent of the use of military power as a tool of international relations and foreign policy.
I will briefly critically discuss the space Europe occupies as a security partner with the African continent and more specifically the African Union. Focusing on the role of the European
Union in the latest phase of the war in Tigray that opposed the Ethiopian federal government, local militias and the Eritrean armed forces to the Tigray Defense forces from August 24 until today (06 January) as we continue to witness the implementation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
To formulate a formal research question, I will ask how is the European Union’s collaboration with the African Union as a partner in peace and security evolving? taking the war in Tigray as a case study.
According to the 2017 African Peace Facility (APF) annual report, the APF is a core element of the European strategy for Africa. It has been since plans for its creation in 2003 were formulated1. This role was only strengthened by the Joint Africa – EU strategy (JAES) adopted in 2007 that enshrined peace and security as one of the 8 areas of cooperation between the two; always following the principle of “African Solutions to African problems2. The APF has established itself as the main instrument for EU – AU collaboration peace and security efforts and, falling under the umbrella of the AU’s tool box has been heavily financed by EU funds. These funds usually coming from the European Defense facility, funded by member states, and not directly out of the EU budget3. The 2020 APF report states that since 2004, 15 operations have taken place within this framework in 20 countries4, highlighting what appears to be a successful cooperation in the domain of peace and security between the two regional organizations. By the reports’ own assessment “AU–
EU cooperation on peace and security will continue to be of key importance in the future. In light of the leading role of the AU in preserving peace and security on the African continent, the EU remains committed to building AU capacities in this area.5”.
This introductory segment was meant to provide a rapid way of showing the existence of a fruitful relation on the subject of peace and security and a desire of the European Union to be an actor on the continent in that regard. As well as the willingness, until now, of the AU to collaborate.
The events surrounding the resumption and subsequent end of hostilities in Tigray in late 2022 could however offer a very discordant image to that previous, harmonious, one. The latest segment of the war in Tigray begun on 24 August, putting an end to a ceasefire that had allowed the surrounded region of Ethiopia to receive direly needed humanitarian aid. The conflict, though the largest ongoing war at the time6, went near unnoticed as the war in Ukraine captured media
1 (European Commission. Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development., 2018) p8 2 (European Commission. Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development., 2018, p. 8) 3 (European Commission. Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development., 2018, p. 10) 4 (Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (European Commission) Now known as,
2021, p. 11)
5 (Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (European Commission) Now known as, 2021, p. 6)
6 (The Largest War in the World, n.d.)
attention in the West, as Josep Borrel pointed out on Twitter on 14 December7. Drawing a brief portrait of this phase of the conflict will provide better perspective for the significance of the involvement, or lack there of, of the EU in the subsequent end of hostilities process.
The war in Tigray was characterized by grievous atrocities committed on civilians as confirmed by the EHRC-OHCHR Joint Investigation Report on Tigray Conflict8. While the report confirms that both sides rendered themselves guilty of violations of human rights, it does point to a larger propensity to these behaviors in the ranks of the pro Ethiopian federal government forces.
Some observers calling attention to the risk of genocide9. Tigray, a landlocked region at the north of Ethiopia was effectively surrounded by allies of the federal governement. In the South, the Amhara and Afar regions, allied with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy’s forces and in the north Eritrea, a led by Afwerki, a dictator historically ferociously opposed to the TPLF, Tigray People’s Liberation Front, the ruling party of the region of Tigray. This geographic situation resulted in a complete blockade of the region, no food, medical material weapons or people were able to enter or exit. This happened in conjunction to the worst drought the Horn region has faced in the past decades and a total media blackout, enforced by Addis Ababa. Effectively, Tigray was turned into a cauldron of human rights violations. Weaponized hunger10, sexual violence and ethnic based hatred ran rampant as legitimized weapons of war. Estimates of the number of victims of the conflict (as a whole) range from 500.000 to 800.000, mostly civilians succumbing to starvation and absence of medical structures11.
Having very succinctly presented the nature of the conflict. How did the European Union attempt to aid in, influence and participate to its resolution? While the European Union made its voice heard very early in the renewed conflict, calling out Addis Ababa as early as 29 August via EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell12, and European
7 Fontelles, J.B. (2022) We must call out human rights situations that are not on the front pages:almost 800.000 people killed in the war in #TigrayThe Savage reality for the people of #Afghanistan, especially Women &
Girls1,450 political prisoners in #belarusthey deserve #accountability. pic.twitter.com/askwhgcuu1, Twitter.
Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/status/1602985133530923009 (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
8 (“EHRC-OHCHR Joint Investigation Report on Tigray Conflict,” n.d.) 9 (Museum Concerned about Risk of Genocide in Ethiopia, n.d.) 10 (lordalton, 2023)
(Tigray War Has Seen up to Half a Million Dead from Violence and Starv…, 2022) 11 (The Largest War in the World, n.d.)
12 Fontelles, J.B. (2022) Reported air strikes against #Mekelle targeting civilians add to the numerous violations of international humanitarian law in #Tigray. they cast a terrible shadow on the commitment taken by the
Government of Ethiopia to engage in peace negotiations., Twitter. Twitter. Available at:
https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/status/1563654546450169859?s=20&t=7d-OyQqPe0zco2u23EkX0w (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
Union Commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarčič13, for airstrikes conducted against Mekelle, Tigray’s capital, that resulted in civilian deaths, it never the less was criticized for its perceived failure to make use of the humanitarian ceasefire that preceded the 24 August resumption of hostilities. Indeed, The Economist published an article calling the EU out, along with the US, AU and the international community in general. They accused them of failing to apply sufficient pressure on the Ethiopian federal government to force them to follow through and capitalize on the mediation efforts as well as restoring basic services to Tigray14. Now despite this alleged shortcoming, the Union was immediately very vocal in its support for renewed negotiations to end the violence. Proposing its support to any AU led peace process15.
A significant development in the European Union’s involvement with the Tigray conflict came with the visit to Addis Ababa of a delegation from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament from 20 to 22 September. On the agenda featured prominently the conflict in Tigray. This visit would inform a resolution passed on 06 October in Parliament16. The outcome however proved to be somewhat disappointing. It was frustrating to see the MEPs equate the crimes of both sides in spite of the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia (ICHREE) report clearly stating that, while both sides are committing war crimes, only the Federal forces are committing them as part of a widespread attack directed against the civilian population thus constituting a crime against humanity17. The parliament also adopted the Ethiopian Federal government's point of negotiations without preconditions, despite the conditions being linked to the nomination of Obasanjo as facilitator to the negotiation by the AU, in spite of his proximity to the Ethiopian government18. Throughout the whole process, the EU showed unwavering commitment to
13 Lenarčič, J. (2022) I condemn today's air strikes in #Mekelle, which resulted in the deaths of civilians. I urge again for the respect of international humanitarian law. civilians are #notatarget. I call on all parties to engage in peace talks and to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need., Twitter. Twitter. Available at:
https://twitter.com/JanezLenarcic/status/1563252560957345798?s=20&t=7d-OyQqPe0zco2u23EkX0w (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
14 (“Why Has Ethiopia’s Ceasefire Failed?,” n.d.)
15 Fontelles, J.B. (2022) The Regional Government of #Tigray announces its readiness to abide by an immediate cessation of hostilities and to participate in au-led peace process. this opportunity should be seized by all. now. EU ready to support. #AUEU, Twitter. Twitter. Available at:
https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/status/1569207568215449604?s=20&t=z7_jf_CRiz-J4vkOyrin7A (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
Fontelles, J.B. (2022) Former president Kenyatta has been appointed by president @williamsruto as a peace envoy for the conflict in northern Ethiopia #Tigray and in eastern DRC. Kenya is a strong regional actor and the EU is ready to support those efforts. @statehousekenya #AUEU, Twitter. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/
status/1570731610047410177 (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
16 (Texts Adopted - The Recent Humanitarian and Human Rights Situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, Notably That of Children - Thursday, 6 October 2022, n.d.)
17 (“EHRC-OHCHR Joint Investigation Report on Tigray Conflict,” n.d.) p6, 8, 10, 12, 14
18 Global Society of Tigray Scholars & Professionals (2022) GSTS urges @UN_HRC to ensure that: A. the mandate & SCOPE OF THE ICHREE are extended & expanded;b. the ICHREE is provided with sufficient resources; c. the govt allows access & all parties cooperate. #HRC51 @argentinaonuomc 🇪🇹
@eu_ungeneva @usmissiongeneva @UKMissionGeneva Pic.twitter.com/diwxf3yo4V, Twitter. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/GlobalGsts/status/1572610709963390978?s=20&t=LVSdNMrajnVOrGcEfN2eRQ
and showed no desire to question the line of conduct of the AU even as doubts were cast over potential ill intentions in the aborted first round of negotiations in South Africa19. The strongest words of the whole document pushed for the EU and its member states to adopt measures to ensure the protection of human rights and sanction those who violate them. It also supported the European Commission’s postponement of budget support to Ethiopia20. Overall the resolution and debates centered around five points: the need for a cease fire. Increased involvement of the international community. The need for regional stability. The strategic value of the region and the need for accountability21. The European Council meeting that followed on 17 October equally ended without strong conclusions being reached nor with any sanctions being implemented22. This inability to take a strong stand and effectively pressure the Ethiopian government would set the tone for the future of EU involvement. Academics like Alex de Waal saw this as the EU and US failing to appreciate the gravity of the situation23.
The European Union was however pivotal in maintaining the mandate of the ICHREE, introducing a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council to renew its mandate on 06 October and much later helping to secure continued funding for it when the UN General Assembly rejected the Ethiopian demands to defund it on 23 December24. This is in line with the very victims focused approach to the resolution of the conflict line of thought pushed by the Eu thorough out the whole process, as represented in the previously mentioned resolution adopted in Parliament and the constant focus on providing aid25.
It can be legitimately feared that the European Union has not only damaged its reputation as an impartial actor but also that it may have severely hurt its relation with the AU. First Addressing the former point. Indeed the AU did not invite the EU to be an observer at the Pretoria peace talks.
The EU is the most loyal funder of the AU commission as well as of its peace operations. As Alex de Waal states, this is not an innocuous move. This could represent a desire to show the ability of the continent to diversify its partners, the US playing a large role in the negotiations but also with
(Accessed: January 16, 2023).
(Team, 2022) (Dewaal, 2022b) 19 (Dewaal, 2022b)
20 (Texts Adopted - The Recent Humanitarian and Human Rights Situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, Notably That of Children - Thursday, 6 October 2022, n.d.)
21 (Admin, 2022) 22 (Ethiopia, n.d.-a) 23 (Dewaal, 2022a)
24 Situation-Report-EEPA-Horn-No.-337-23-Decemberber-2022-1.pdf. (n.d.).
Situation report EEPA horn no. 284 - 06 october 2022 -1.pdf. (n.d.).
25 (Ethiopia, n.d.-b)
(EU Donates €33 Million (1.8 Billion ETB) to UNICEF and WFP to Restore Essential Education Services and Implement School Feeding Programmes in Conflict Affected Areas in Ethiopia - Ethiopia | ReliefWeb, n.d.)
China or Russia26. Regarding the damaged reputation of the Union as an impartial actor. This was best described in an article by Foreign Policy published on 19 October. In it multiple western diplomatic sources testify anonymously. To quote one of them “[the situation in Tigray] It’s a total failure of US and European Union diplomacy”. Midst the rising calls of potential genocide in the region, western diplomats confessed that “Ethiopia and Eritrea could be planning to create
“concentration camps” to isolate the local population from supporting the TPLF”. He stated that the biggest fear would be that the west end up funding this via funds channeled into the UN, US and EU aid agencies for internally displaced peoples’ camps. Merkeb Negash Yimesel, a Tigray government representative based in Brussels decried the situation in extremely harsh words, stating
“At this point, I am not even sure it is a [Western diplomatic] failure at all or a tacit green-light to do this”27. This was made worse by the inability of the EU to condemn Turkey for its sale of drones to the Ethiopian federal government, drones that were subsequently used to relentlessly bomb civilian targets. Some argued that this was a move design to prevent any discussion on the sale of Turkish drones to Ukraine, sacrificing principles and lives in Ethiopia for convenience in Ukraine28. This was only made worse when the EU sanctioned the Iranian manufacturer selling drones to Russia, Shahed Aviation Industries, showing it could have the arsenal and will to condemn a seller in very similar conditions29.
As previously mentioned, the EU was not present for the Pretoria negotiations. The Union nevertheless lost no time in manifesting its support for the ensuing deal and its implementation.
High Representative Josep Borrell, welcomed the announcement of the cessation of hostilities between the Ethiopian government and Tigray authorities, commending the efforts of the AU, mediators and host South Africa30. Roland Kobia, EU ambassador to Ethiopia, states that the “EU will do its best to support & encourage the implementation of the Peace/CoH agreement”31. Annette Weber, Special Representative of the European Union to the Horn of Africa, discussed the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement with Ethiopia deputy prime minister Demeke Mekonnen;
professing support for its implementation and the reconstruction of the country32. Ethiopia also retained a surprising amount of good will and partnerships, especially with the US which is noteworthy but out of our scope. Examples of this include French Ambassador to Ethiopia, Remi Maréchaux, stating that France is willing to resume military cooperation with Ethiopia “sooner rather than later”, though he does nuance this by conditioning this to accountability for the victims
26 (Waal, 2022) 27 (Gridneff, n.d.)
28 (In Tigray vallen honderden hongerdoden per dag, ziet deze onderzoeker. Hoe komt dat?, n.d.) 29 (EU Slaps Sanctions on Iran Drone Maker, Military Officers, 2022)
30 (Situation-Report-EEPA-Horn-No.-303-03-November-2022.Pdf, n.d.) 31 (Situation-Report-EEPA-Horn-No.-308-10-November-2022-1.Pdf, n.d.) 32 ((6) FBC (Fana Broadcasting Corporate S.C.) - Publications | Facebook, n.d.)
of the war33. As well as Hirut Zemene, Ambassador of Ethiopia to the Benelux countries and the Eu institutions, stating that the Benelux countries have pledged full support for the implementation as well as continued economic partnership” following the signature of the Pretoria agreement, not waiting for an evaluation of its implementation34. Of course the statement should be taken with a pinch of salt given who it originates from but it does denote enthusiasm from Benelux partners to restart activities.
The European Union was called in as a good faith mediator, along with the US and UN.
However, if we are to believe the Ethiopian federal government's complaints Ireland was the one to trully force a strong principled stance. Ethiopian Deputy PM and Foreign Affairs Minister Demeke Mekonnen threatened to cut ties with the country “as a measure of last resort” if Ireland does not
“refrain from further hostility against Ethiopia”, alleging that it is undermining Ethiopia’s
“sovereignty and territorial integrity”. In the same letter he stated that “EU groups visiting Ethiopia privately advised us we need to mend fences with Ireland if we desired to normalize relations with the European Union”, stating Ireland intends to use coercive measures against Ethiopia, using its position in the UN Security Council35. Ireland being singled out in such a way could indicate an uncomfortable willingness to compromise on the rights of millions by the EU. A worthwhile direction to take this research in further would be that of the differentiated perspective of nation building needs between the EU and AU. One cannot look at this conflict and the way it was handled without looking at the bigger African picture and what it means for it. Secession is a taboo on the continent for a reason. National unity and the respect of established border is the gospel of all leaders and perhaps the AU. Allowing cessation once means opening Pandora’s box for the whole continent and its host of independentist movements and threatened minorities. A diktat that the European Union may perhaps fail to grasp or neglect when it considers its relation with the continent and the AU. Can the partnership of the EU and AU survive this rift in perspective on the rights of a people to decide for itself if said rift were to exist?
But to return to our initial question: how is the European Union’s collaboration with the African Union as a partner in peace and security evolving? Looking at our case study, it appears to be taking a turn for the worst, at least on the short term. The AU turning its back to a historical partner and significant financial backer is a huge decision that would not have been taken on a whim. Such a choice is likely to imply non negligible trajectory shifts that would take a lot of work to mend and restore trust. The EU clearly still supports the AU and is making gestures of goodwill
33 (Ethio-France Deep Bonds - Capital Newspaper, n.d.)
34 Situation-Report-EEPA-Horn-No.-339-27-Decemberber-2022-1.pdf. (n.d.).
35 (Standard, 2022)
in containing contingent humanitarian operations but it will be interesting to observe how the AU responds to what could be an open hand. Especially as the mobilization of the European Peace Facility, successor of the APF, to support Ukraine appears to mark a shift in EU foreign policy as it is used for the first time to fund weapons purchases. The globalization of this new tool no longer directed solely at Africa brings up questions of competitions for European funds and attention. This source of funding for the AU no longer being as secure as it once was would be a valid reason to diversify its partnerships in peace and security. This is particularly a cross roads as we have seen numerous African nations if not warm up than take a significantly softer line towards Russia, deeply frustrating Europe; nearly half of African nations abstaining from or not supporting the resolution to end the Russian military operations in Ukraine36.
(6) FBC (Fana Broadcasting Corporate S.C.)—Publications | Facebook. (n.d.). Retrieved January 16, 2023, from
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Fontelles, J.B. (2022) We must call out human rights situations that are not on the front pages:almost 800.000 people killed in the war in #TigrayThe Savage reality for the people of
#Afghanistan, especially Women & Girls1,450 political prisoners in #belarusthey deserve
#accountability. pic.twitter.com/askwhgcuu1, Twitter. Twitter. Available at:
https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/status/1602985133530923009 (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
Fontelles, J.B. (2022) Reported air strikes against #Mekelle targeting civilians add to the numerous violations of international humanitarian law in #Tigray. they cast a terrible shadow on the
commitment taken by the Government of Ethiopia to engage in peace negotiations., Twitter. Twitter.
Available at: https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/status/1563654546450169859?s=20&t=7d- OyQqPe0zco2u23EkX0w (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
Fontelles, J.B. (2022) The Regional Government of #Tigray announces its readiness to abide by an immediate cessation of hostilities and to participate in au-led peace process. this opportunity should be seized by all. now. EU ready to support. #AUEU, Twitter. Twitter. Available at:
https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/status/1569207568215449604?s=20&t=z7_jf_CRiz-J4vkOyrin7A (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
Fontelles, J.B. (2022) Former president Kenyatta has been appointed by president @williamsruto as a peace envoy for the conflict in northern Ethiopia #Tigray and in eastern DRC. Kenya is a strong regional actor and the EU is ready to support those efforts. @statehousekenya #AUEU, Twitter. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/JosepBorrellF/status/1570731610047410177 (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
Global Society of Tigray Scholars & Professionals (2022) GSTS urges @UN_HRC to ensure that:
A. the mandate & SCOPE OF THE ICHREE are extended & expanded;b. the ICHREE is provided with sufficient resources; c. the govt allows access & all parties cooperate. #HRC51 🇪🇹
@argentinaonuomc @eu_ungeneva @usmissiongeneva @UKMissionGeneva Pic.twitter.com/diwxf3yo4V, Twitter. Twitter. Available at:
s=20&t=LVSdNMrajnVOrGcEfN2eRQ (Accessed: January 16, 2023).
Lenarčič, J. (2022) I condemn today's air strikes in #Mekelle, which resulted in the deaths of civilians. I urge again for the respect of international humanitarian law. civilians are #notatarget. I call on all parties to engage in peace talks and to allow humanitarian aid to reach those in need., Twitter. Twitter. Available at: https://twitter.com/JanezLenarcic/status/1563252560957345798?
s=20&t=7d-OyQqPe0zco2u23EkX0w (Accessed: January 16, 2023).