A pig and a chicken open a breakfast restaurant together, and their speciality is bacon and eggs. What’s the difference between the chicken and the pig? The chicken is involved, but the pig is committed. For the chicken, it’s just an easy day’s work to lay a few eggs. But for the pig, it’s a lifetime’s commitment to provide the bacon.
This well-known business fable is perhaps the best illustration of the dynamics behind the joint Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into “alleged violations of international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law committed by all parties to the conflict in the Tigray region of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia”.
Like the chicken, the UN’s human rights office was merely “involved” in this investigation – by way of appearing to be doing something to deliver some justice to the victims of the bloody conflict. The EHRC, on the other hand, was truly committed. After all, although a legally “autonomous” federal institution, the EHRC is part of the Ethiopian government – its existence depends on federal funding and its commissioners share the vision of the Ethiopian government. In other words, for the EHRC, it was undoubtedly a lifetime’s commitment to defend the Ethiopian government in this investigation.
Due to this perception, many in Ethiopia and abroad – especially those who are not buying into the Ethiopian government’s narratives about the war – opposed from the very beginning the UN’s decision to involve the EHRC in its investigation into Ethiopia’s war. In response to questions about why it opted for a collaboration with the EHRC in Tigray, the OHCHR said it agreed to this arrangement because it was the only way for its investigators to gain access to Ethiopia and assess the situation on the ground.