Ethiopia: Why Ethiopia’s IGAD Supports Standout

by Zelalem

Ethiopian men and women’s contribution in peacekeeping is improving peace in the Horn and beyond.

Ethiopia’s growing regional impacts, mainly due to its economic achievement, have helped in crushing the heels of elements that attempt to posture their cynical sub-regional ambitions while improving peace and security in the Horn, experts and officials say.

With the continued backing from Ethiopia, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) managed to put success stories in the bag, argues IGAD’s Executive Secretary Amb. (Eng) Mahboub M. Maalim.

Ethiopia’s role in IGAD are huge, he says, adding that it has helped immensely in the effort of redeeming Somalia from two decades of statelessness while supporting the sub-regional institution in its efforts of midwifing South Sudan’s birth. To him, the support of other member states and the international community as a whole is also worth mentioning.

“Sometimes, we’re confronted with questions as to the roles of Ethiopia. People say that Ethiopia has too much roles in IGAD, and I will not dispute that,” he states.

As a chair, Ethiopia has higher responsibilities, he explains, and goes to say that because of the location of AU and UNECA in Addis Ababa, senior ambassadors in Ethiopia are accredited to AU, UNECA and IGAD which gives the country additional task in coordinating the stated entities with IGAD.

“There’s a high-level political need for us to be seen strong in Addis and this falls squarely on IGAD’s Chair [Ethiopia].”

To him, Ethiopia’s long chairmanship of IGAD has been made on the basis of consensus, as the sub-regional organization always does. “We’ve only seven members, and work on consensus basis.”

“Member states reached consensus that it is advantageous to them if current chair finishes the various tasks on the table before relaying the chairmanship to the next country.”

Also, the sub-regional body has ample pressing issues on its plate– conflict, emerging crime issues, security sector upgrading issues, terrorism, drought resilience problems, peace and security challenges… and member states agreed that all what is needed to resolve the outstanding issues is commitment, and Ethiopia’s leadership will help address the problems, hints Mahboub.

If one sees in terms of the country’s role in Somalia, for instance, its troops operate both within and outside AMISOM supported mechanism. A lot of other potential problems in Somalia have been curtailed due to Ethiopia’s might, he assures, adding: “It’s great advantage that Somalia has a strong neighbor which grants the needed supports.”

IGAD Security Sector Program (IGAD SSP) Director Commander Abebe Muluneh for his part indicates that Ethiopia through IGAD has lent huge supports in brokering peace between Sudan and South Sudan as well as in strengthening the Somali government.

“It’s worth to bring to our attention that Ethiopia is the sole contributor of troops to United Nations Interim Security Force (UNISFA), which is unique in the history of peacekeeping missions,” he adds.

Besides, Ethiopia’s officials have contributed a lot in resolving disputes among South Sudanese top leadership, he indicates, mentioning that former Foreign Minister Amb. Seyoum Mesfin, who was IGAD special envoy for South Sudan, did his best while current Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu is doing everything possible to pacify the youngest nation in Africa.

To him, Ethiopia’s ceaseless and successful activities in crushing the heels of al-shabbab have been helping the government in Mogadishu to stand on its own feet. “Thus, Ethiopia’s place in IGAD has brought conspicuous results in ensuring peace and security in the region,” he argues.

Dr. Costantinos Berhutesfa, a political analyst, says that Ethiopia has to play further roles in searching for and providing fresh and renewed focus to help the organization better respond to regional challenges.

There is a need for arming policy makers in the art and techniques of analyzing and integrating present and anticipated trends, challenges, opportunities and outcomes into peace and development programming, he argues, adding these will also stem from finding out and learning from best practices, and the formulation and execution of a system-wide development and utilization of human capacities.

Ethiopia, as a Chair of IGAD, must revitalize the IGAD secretariat to make it rise up to regional hubs that can frontload results-focused strategies, Dr. Costantinos comments.

“As a première institution in this much integrating present and anticipated trends, challenges, opportunities and outcomes into peace and development programming, he argues, adding these will also stem from finding out and learning from best practices, and the formulation and execution of a system-wide development and utilization of human capacities.

Ethiopia, as a Chair of IGAD, must revitalize the IGAD secretariat to make it rise up to regional hubs that can frontload results-focused strategies, Dr. Costantinos comments.

“As a première institution in this much troubled sub-region, IGAD must focus on human quality and human capital development, which should and can feature prominently in a region bankrupted of its precious human capital leaving behind an ill-prepared local leadership; as learning systems and cultures collapse, some, beyond repair,” he adds.

He also stressed the need for the consolidation of meritocracy to make it fit with current demands.

To Amb. Mahboub, IGAD has revitalized itself first in 1996 when the two D’s [Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD)] combined to development, and peace and security issues has also been introduced since then. Likewise in 2008, the organization brought regional integration into its agenda. It as well has several specialists in the IGAD institutions. “We’re institutionally capable of meeting the regional demand due to upgraded and up scaled offices,” he says.

As regional key player, Ethiopia has been discharging its duties. But, so many pressing issues are yet in store which it has to execute as a chair particularly in dealing with peace and security challenges, human development and fostering the regional economic integration.

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