Abebe Muluneh (Com.) has worked at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for nearly two decades, rising to the level of Director of Peace and Security Programs at IGAD and head of mission in Ethiopia. He oversees IGAD activities in monitoring conflicts, forwarding recommendations to member nations, and implementing decisions in the security sector. This ranges from monitoring internal and border conflicts in member countries to diplomatic efforts to resolve conflicts in Sudan currently.
Though he says IGAD is playing a larger role in peace and security, Abebe regrets that the Authority is often occupied with frequent conflicts instead of its ultimate goal of regional integration and development. IGAD is considering deploying its own military force to police the region.
Abebe sat down with The Reporter’s Ashenafi Endale to reflect on challenges facing the region and IGAD’s work. Excerpts:
Through the lenses of a regional organization, describe the tools and tactics deployed by IGAD to monitor, follow up and resolve conflicts and ensure regional harmony amidst the many threats jeopardizing peace within the turbulent lands of the Horn of Africa.
Abebe Muluneh:It is worthy to have a bird’s eye view of how IGAD was formed before delving into its current activities.
IGAD was born out of challenges and difficulties from the beginning. The Inter-governmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) was established in 1986 based on a UN convention. At the time, Somalia and Sudan ideologically wanted to exclude Ethiopia from joining the new organization. They tried extensively. On the other hand, establishing a strong regional institution without including Ethiopia was unthinkable. It was post Ethio-Somalia war and the two countries had not properly reconciled.
SiadBarre of Somalia, Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia, GaafarNimeiry of Sudan, Daniel ArapMoi of Kenya, Okello of Uganda, and Hassan Gouled of Djibouti met to discuss the matter. At that meeting, Egypt and Tanzania requested to join the then-forming IGADD.
It is easy to imagine what would have happened if Egypt had joined IGADD. Ethiopia did diplomacy and ensured Egypt was excluded, arguing IGADD is a regional institution that Egypt cannot join. Ethiopia lobbied Kenya and Uganda to exclude Egypt. However, Sudan and Somalia supported Egypt’s inclusion. The argument was between Somalia and Sudan supporting Egypt and Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda opposing. Ethiopia ultimately won with three votes against two.
Ethiopia’s success was partly due to Kenya’s support. Ethiopia helped Kenya by voting against Tanzania joining IGADD. In return Kenya voted against Egypt’s request to join – favoring Ethiopia.
Ultimately, IGADD was formed with six founding member countries: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.
Deciding the headquarters was also a problem. Sudan and Somalia wanted Khartoum to host. Ethiopia disagreed, arguing that based in Khartoum, IGADD would become an instrument of Egypt and the Arab world. Kenya, being marginalized at the time, could not host and Uganda was considered too far.
This divergence of interests between Ethiopia/Kenya versus Somalia/Sudan meant none could host. So they lobbied Djibouti to host IGADD’s headquarters.
After the revitalization initiative, IGADD transformed into IGAD in 1996. The revitalization was necessary due to key events in the early 1990s: Ethiopia split into two with Eritrea’s secession, SiadBarre’s regime collapsed in Somalia and conflict worsened between Sudan and South Sudan.
Consequently, IGADD’s leaders decided to restructure the organization to accommodate the increasingly pressing agendas of peace and security. IGADD had initially focused only on development and drought issues, with no programs on peace and security.
So following the revitalization, a peace and security program was added. Food security and regional trade cooperation were also added. Thus, the revitalization and transformation of IGADD into IGAD in 1996 incorporated these three new agendas.
Can you highlight some notable achievements of IGAD since its formation?
Sudan’s comprehensive peace agreement signed in 2004-2005 was one achievement. It established the power-sharing arrangement between Sudan and South Sudan groups.
Installing Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government led by Abdullahi Yusuf was also an IGAD success story. Since then, Somalia has managed to hold elected governments, including the latest election won by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
The most recent success was averting war between Ethiopia and Sudan over the Al-Fashaga border dispute. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and Sudanese Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (Gen.) met in Nairobi during an IGAD summit in July 2022, facilitating talks that defused tensions.
IGAD also played a key role in resolving the northern Ethiopia war. Before the Pretoria agreement, there were many corridor diplomacy efforts, shuttle diplomacy and back-and-forth meetings. IGAD tried extensively to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table.
After the Pretoria talks, IGAD – along with the African Union (AU), United Nations (UN) and the US – performed crucial tasks. We successfully persuaded Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian President, and Uhuru Kenyatta, former Kenyan President, to take the matter seriously. Then the cessation of hostilities and ceasefire agreements were signed. Subsequently, progress was made from Pretoria to Nairobi and finally Mekelle.
Through its efforts to resolve the northern Ethiopia conflict, IGAD has shown itself capable of playing an exceptional and effective role, demonstrating the potential of the organization for the first time.
IGAD is also actively engaging in peace talks between the Ethiopian government and the Oromo Liberation Army, which started in Zanzibar. IGAD is deeply involved and striving to do its best.
In response to your question, yes, IGAD is always occupied with peace and security issues because conflicts erupt frequently.
For example, Sudan’s comprehensive peace agreement was signed in 2004-05. However, South Sudan became an independent country in 2011 before the agreement was fully implemented. South Sudan then immediately joined IGAD, bringing its membership to eight countries.
Unfortunately, South Sudan fell into internal conflict just two years after independence in 2013. IGAD travelled to South Sudan to mediate between the warring groups.
In summary, IGAD has many success stories, emerging as an important player in resolving conflicts and building peace in East Africa.
Does IGAD have the authority and ability to enforce its mandates and objectives on reluctant member states? What powers does the organization possess to compel compliance from countries that act counter to IGAD’s principles?
While IGAD is formed by the consent of its member states, the 1996 establishment agreement was limited in scope. However, the new establishment treaty adopted at the 14th IGAD Leaders’ Summit in June 2023 aims to strengthen the organizational empowerment.
For example, under the new treaty, if an IGAD member country fails to pay its membership dues, IGAD can revoke that member’s voting rights. This shows IGAD is becoming more empowered.
Though IGAD currently lacks a military wing like ECOWAS, the idea of deploying the East African Standby Force to Sudan was discussed at the first quartet meeting of IGAD countries. This suggests IGAD is progressing towards having greater powers. Sudan also appeared open to the idea, though it remains to be seen how it will evolve in practice.
Are there intentions within IGAD to develop its own military force to carry out peacekeeping operations independently?
AMISOM began as an IGAD initiative. IGASOM, the IGAD Mission in Somalia, was the first peacekeeping mission proposed for Somalia. This preceded AMISOM. However, the UN and AU argued that a mission in Somalia should be led by them. Subsequently, it was designated an AU mission.
Nigeria, Senegal and other countries initially contributed troops. But later, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya deployed forces to Somalia. With the exception of Burundi, AMISOM is carried out by IGAD member states. Thus we can say AMISOM is indirectly operated by IGAD. Over time, this mission could evolve into a fully-fledged IGAD mission.
The rivalry between IGAD member states striving for supremacy within the organization, as you pointed out were intense since IGADD’s founding, appear to continue today. How does IGAD’s leadership reconcile these competing interests? Do you think IGAD serves all members fairly?
Yes, some incompatible interests are clearly visible. Some member countries aspire to have more influence within IGAD. However, no meeting has been held without some form of agreement. Any contentious issue is tabled for debate. In the end, meetings conclude with an agreed upon compromise.
When you go to West Africa block, there is Nigeria. In Southern African Development Community (SADC), there is South Africa. In the North Africa community, there is Egypt, Algeria, and others. In each African regional bloc, there are hegemonies that dominate and have more influence in the regional organization.
In East Africa, there is no such hegemony. In terms of population size, security strength, collective security commitment, political power, and diplomatic power, Ethiopia has more capacity. But in IGAD, Kenya also competes equally with Ethiopia. They compete in every aspect.
For instance, President William Ruto disclosed that Kenya is preparing to send 1,000 peacekeeping troops to Haiti. This has significant political implications.
Peacekeeping activities were Ethiopia’s specialty. In Korea, Liberia, Congo, Rwanda, Darfur Sudan and elsewhere, Ethiopia played a prominent role. Now, other countries like Kenya are overtaking it. Ethiopia can regain its prominence.
In general, where there is a big brother, there is influence.
Ethiopia clearly has a better capacity. When the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is completed, Ethiopia will be able to supply energy to neighboring countries. For instance, Ethiopia is currently sending power from the Tekeze dam to Sudan. Though it is a small amount of power, it helped separate Sudan from Egypt’s influence. Ethiopia also provides power and water to Djibouti. Through this, Ethiopia has managed to ensure Djibouti accommodates Ethiopia’s interests.
Such actions will gradually yield positive results. Economic growth will have positive implications.
Compared to regional blocs like ECOWAS that often impose sanctions swiftly, IGAD takes longer to resolve conflicts. It took IGAD two years to resolve the northern Ethiopia conflict and Sudan’s war continues. How proactive and responsive is IGAD at preventing instability or quickly resolving conflicts?
With all the shortcomings, IGAD responds quickly whenever incidents occur.
IGAD is outperforming even more than the AU and UN. For example, the day after the war in Sudan broke out, IGAD convened leaders of its member countries and immediately assigned three leaders to follow up on the issue. Since that day, IGAD has been actively monitoring Sudan’s situation. In one way or another, IGAD is climbing to its highest point.
Following Ethiopia’s normalization of relations with Eritrea, a new regional alliance emerged between PM Abiy, President of Eritrea Isaias Afwerki, and former President of Somalia Mohamed Farmajo. Some argued this alliance risked undermining IGAD’s goals and objectives. Do such informal alignments between IGAD member states have the potential to impact the organization?
The ultimate goal of IGAD is regional integration. The heads of state and leaders play a significant role in shaping initiatives.
When PM Abiy came to power, his “Medemer” (positive synergy) approach, sought to incorporate everyone. The adversarial relations between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia ended, and they began cooperating on security issues and other matters.
This new cooperation between the three countries was clearly initiated and led by their leaders, showing that political will from leaders is crucial. However, IGAD has struggled to focus on its integration and development goals due to frequent conflict in the region.
Instead of pursuing its economic and political integration agenda, IGAD has had to spend most of its time resolving conflicts.
Many East African borders were drawn arbitrarily by colonial powers, resulting in communities living across multiple states. As these states grow stronger individually, they tend to claim lands and communities located in neighboring states. Why hasn’t IGAD pursued a more integrated approach to nation-building in the region? Scholars claim that nation-building efforts in one Horn country often go against the interests of neighboring states.
Africa in general faces challenges due to its colonial history.
There are two types of borders in Africa. There are government borders and community borders.
For instance, the Borena community spans both Ethiopia and Kenya. They are one people in every way. Their Aba Gada system is also unified. It is difficult to differentiate such communities.
IGAD is working to ensure free movement of people. We are also working on infrastructure to enable cross-border trade and regional integration.
We are currently working on a Transhumance protocol. The border communities in the Horn of Africa are pastoralists. Pastoralists always move with their livestock, following water and grass. So they do not recognize borders. They spend one season in one country and go to another border region the next season.
The Protocol includes issuing passports for pastoralists’ livestock. This is an interesting IGAD initiative that is progressing well. We are also working on trade, tourism, conflict early warning mechanisms, and more. People-to-people integration is important. For instance, enabling border people to travel and interact in places like Yabelo, Wajir, and Mersabet can help stabilize and integrate the region.
But this is not a simple task.
How does the Transhumance protocol work to facilitate cross-border movement for pastoralists?
The length of time pastoralists remain in one country is periodic and well-known. They move based on the seasons. Passports are issued to the owners of the cattle or livestock. The exact number of livestock is registered and listed.
The number of new calves born while the pastoralists are in that country is also registered. When the season ends and the pastoralists exit, the list is rechecked and verified. The aim of the protocol is to formalize and regulate the pastoralists’ movement across borders.
There are several issues along the borders, including contraband, human trafficking, and illegal arms deals. Based on your monitoring and assessments, which border areas seem riskiest and who do you think may be responsible?
The demarcation of borders within Africa, including in the Horn of Africa region, is insufficient. While border agreements exist, the physical demarcation of borders is lacking. Ethiopia is the only country that negotiated its borders directly with colonial powers, rather than inheriting arbitrarily drawn borders.
The border between Kenya and Ethiopia resulted more from disputes between Ethiopia and European colonial officials than from direct negotiations with Jomo Kenyatta.
Within IGAD bloc, this issue persists as borders throughout the Horn are porous, uncontrolled, and heightening regional vulnerability. There are higher flows of weapons, migrants, and other illicit goods across borders.
One of the tasks in my program is border security management. We identified that a lack of capacity underlies the problem. Border regions also lack infrastructure due to their remoteness from country capitals. Horn countries lack the resources to develop and secure their borders effectively. Even the United States struggles to control its border with Mexico, despite greater economic and technological capacity.
What factors contribute to the illicit arms trade plaguing East Africa?
At any place where there are conflicts, there are illegal arms supplies. In Yemen, Libya and anywhere where the state deteriorates, the illegal arms market flourishes. The supply comes including from government depots. The influence from these countries expands to the horn of Africa.
For instance, the biggest source of the illegal arms market supply in the horn of Africa is Yemen. The next big source is Turkey. The illegal arms supply from Turkey comes through Sudan.
Ethiopia’s security and intelligence forces usually apprehend illegal arms en-route to Ethiopia. They are usually apprehended before they reach the receivers in Ethiopia. Most of these weapons are ‘made in Turkey.’ How do they come to Ethiopia? They simply follow the patterns of conflict in the country. These are indicatives of a war economy.
The Ethiopian government has accused foreign powers of meddling in the northern Ethiopian war, even supplying arms. How do you asses the level of such interventions, given the interfacing of domestic armed forces and external interests?
Several countries have vested interests in each of the horn of Africa countries. For instance, more than any region in the world, global powers have a strong desire to establish military bases in the horn of Africa. This interest is extremely strong in the red sea and Gulf of Aden. This area is highly militarized. The superpowers do so not to protect us but to promote their own national interests.
This corridor is a passage to the Middle East. Gulf countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, also view this area with alertness, because they fear Iran’s activities in the area. Historically, Iran, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and others have been rivals. Recently the issue is improving. But in general, the interest in the Horn is always strong from all directions.
Another example is Sudan. There are many external interests involved in the Sudan conflict. Whenever you have resources, especially for Africa, it can be both a curse and a blessing. Unless you have the capacity to utilize your resources, every country scrambles to exploit them. Domestic conflict is always fertile ground for external interests to take advantage of.
Close to 14 countries have bases in Djibouti. What is IGAD’s stance on the number of foreign military bases located in Djibouti, where IGAD has its headquarters? Does it view these bases positively or negatively?
IGAD has neither positive nor negative attitude regarding the interests of individual member states.
The existence of foreign military bases in Djibouti falls under the Djiboutian government’s jurisdiction. Other countries cannot dictate Djibouti to change its policy on this issue.No external entity, including the UN, AU or IGAD, can intervene in a country’s sovereign affairs.
Is Sudan’s current conflict solely a power struggle between the two generals, or are resources also a factor? What are the reasons IGAD has not yet brokered a solution to the conflict in Sudan?
IGAD is working urgently on Sudan’s situation at a high level. Under the leadership of President Ruto, four leaders have been tasked with resolving Sudan’s crisis. The team includes PMAbiy, Ismael Omar Guelle, and SalvaKiir.
Unfortunately, Sudan’s crisis is taking on tribal overtones. Additionally, initiating armed conflict within the capital city is unusual. While coup d’états within a capital are common, Sudan appears to be the first to start a war from within its own capital.
Hemedti and al-Burhan have known each other for years. Both were involved in the Darfur conflict. Hemedti led the Janjaweed militia, which he later converted into the Rapid Support Force. Al-Burhan led the government’s military forces. Both were also involved in Yemen.
Hemedti has stronger financial resources than al-Burhan due to large gold mines in Darfur that provided him with economic power. He built a powerful force.
Their conflict ostensibly began over unifying their forces. Al-Burhan said unification must happen within two years while Hemedti said within 10 years. However, this disagreement is likely insignificant as both sides could likely compromise on a timeframe.
The real issue appears to be who would lead the unified force. Al-Burhan believed the unified force would become Sudan’s defense force under his command. However, Hemedti was unwilling to cede control of his forces to al-Burhan, leading to their war.
At this point, Khartoum has completely fallen under the control of the RSF.
Further complicating the situation, Hemedti has advocated for establishing a civilian government but has not indicated who takes the leadership role in such a government.
On top of these, external involvements have further complicated Sudan’s crisis. The generals have backing from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Haftar of Libya, and Niger.
Sudan’s situation is complex and a swift solution is unlikely. However, many Sudanese civilians are suffering in the interim.
Do you think Sudan’s internal conflict will spill over into Ethiopia, given the disagreements over the border and GERD? What if one of the generals tries to externalize the fight?
I highly doubt it. The internal conflict in Sudan is primarily localized in areas that are geographically distant from Ethiopia’s borders. Therefore, the immediate impact on Ethiopia seems limited. However, it would be imprudent to disregard the potential spill-over effects entirely.
When a state experiences internal strife and a power vacuum emerges, external forces often seize the opportunity to intervene. This raises concerns that Ethiopia could face threats originating from Sudan’s internal conflict. Although the current situation does not directly indicate a high probability of spill-over, vigilance is necessary to address any potential risks to Ethiopia’s security.
When a state experiences internal fractures and a power vacuum emerges, external forces may exploit the vacuum. So, we think there is a remote possibility of threats emanating from Sudan’s internal conflict spilling over into Ethiopia.
What kind of threat?
Let’s consider a hypothetical situation where irresponsible armed groups in Sudan try to launch attacks on Ethiopia, aiming to export their domestic conflict.
These attacks could potentially target critical infrastructure, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The dam itself is feared more than a nuclear power, as its reservoir water has the potential to cause significant damage to riparian countries, including Sudan and Egypt.
It is not a simple matter, as evidenced by previous reports of attempts to order Egypt to target the dam, such as the actions suggested by former President Trump. The potential outcome of any irresponsible act from Sudan cannot be underestimated.
However, it is worth noting that PM Abiy and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi have recently stated that they reached an agreement after their meeting in Cairo. They have expressed their commitment to continue negotiations on GERD. As a result, there is hope that Ethiopia and Egypt will be able to reach an agreement.
What agreement did Abiy and al-Burhan reach during the July 2022 IGAD summit in Nairobi, considering the heightened border tension at al-Fashaga? Initially, there were concerns about a possible conflict between Sudan and Ethiopia. However, following their meeting at the summit, the situation deescalated.
IGAD’s role was to facilitate a crucial meeting between the two leaders. They had the opportunity to meet privately and engage in discussions without any external presence. The closed-door nature of the meeting meant that the details of their conversation remain unknown to the public.
Typically, discussions held between leaders during one-to-one meetings are not readily available unless they are shared through press conferences or official statements. During a one-to-one meeting, no third parties are allowed to enter, ensuring privacy and confidentiality.
Is it possible to expect a resolution to the al-Fashaga and GERD case once the conflict in Sudan is effectively addressed?
Resolving the al-Fashaga and GERD case requires time. The longstanding border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia has persisted since 1902. However, in 1972, Emperor Haileselaise I played a significant role in mediating between the two Sudanese parties. This effort culminated in the signing of the Addis Ababa declaration, an agreement that brought credit to the emperor.
As part of this agreement, Sudan and Ethiopia committed to maintaining their respective positions along the border until it could be officially demarcated. This letter of agreement was seen as a potential catalyst for an amicable solution and was subsequently sent to the UN. Ethiopia considers this exchange of letters as a crucial piece of evidence.
It is worth noting that border commissions have been engaged in discussions for over a century. Not only is the Sudan-Ethiopia border unresolved, but Ethiopia’s borders with Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, and Somaliland also lack proper demarcation.
In light of the withdrawal of ATMIS (formerly AMISOM) from Somalia, do you believe Somalia’s government has the necessary capacity to hold back al-Shabab?
President Mohamed has outlined six approaches his government plans to employ in order to combat al-Shabab. Let me mention three of them.
The first approach involves military measures, which the government is capable of implementing. The second approach focuses on countering the ideology of al-Shabab. This entails educating sympathizers of the group and replacing their erroneous ideology with the correct one.
The third instrument, as highlighted by the President, involves disrupting the financial sources of al-Shabab. These sources include revenue generated from charcoal sales, contraband, piracy, human trafficking, and illegal tax collections from businesses. If Somalia effectively implements these measures, I think they can control al-Shabab.
Can we be certain that there won’t be any further border attacks on Ethiopia, similar to what occurred last year?
In 2020, during a gathering in Salaga, Somalia, al-Shabab issued a communiqué expressing the belief that crusaders had destroyed the principles, values, assets, ideology, and land of Islam.
Al-Shabab believes Ethiopia and Kenya are conducting crusades against Islam and the resulting damages are felt by the two countries. The group made a decision to expand their attack zones to include Ethiopia and Kenya. The attack on Ethiopia’s borders last year by al-Shabab was a manifestation of this plan, taking advantage of a vacuum created by internal conflicts within Ethiopia.
What is IGAD’s stance on the ongoing debate surrounding the recognition of Somaliland’s statehood?
IGAD recognizes one Somalia.
President Isaias recently announced that Eritrea will rejoin IGAD after years of withdrawal. He also emphasized the need to revitalize IGAD. What does the revitalization entail, and is Eritrea permitted to rejoin?
During the IGAD leaders’ meeting on June 12, 2023, Eritrea actively participated, and the communiqué issued on that day extended a warm welcome to Eritrea. Therefore, Eritrea was greeted, and the subsequent steps in this process will be seen.
Many people claim that IGAD has lost its power and effectiveness. What is your response to that?
From our perspective within IGAD, we believe the organization is actively fulfilling its responsibilities more than ever before. We are actively addressing conflicts, progressing on regional integration, and engaging in discussions on various regional issues. For any failures, member countries should take the blame. Unless they are willing and supportive, IGAD cannot achieve its goals. Similarly, the AU also relies on the support of African countries to be effective.
You mentioned that IGAD is occupied with addressing conflicts. When do you anticipate IGAD will shift its focus to permanent solutions and regional integration?
The shift towards permanent solutions and regional integration largely depends on the actions and commitment of member countries. IGAD does not seek conflict, war, or instability. It is only when member countries prioritize peace and stability that IGAD can shift its focus towards regional integration, which is our ultimate goal.
Besides Sudan, which area do you consider to be risky and volatile?
We closely monitor areas with ongoing conflicts. Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Ethiopia are among the regions that IGAD closely follows-upon.
What is IGAD’s position on the Ukraine-Russia war?
IGAD’s position aligns with that of its member countries. The war between Ukraine and Russia has global implications, including its impact on fuel, fertilizer, food, and inflation worldwide, including in America.
With the global geopolitical shift towards multi-polarism, what benefits do you think Africa will gain?
I believe it is time for Africa to rise. The value of Africa in the eyes of global powers is increasing, and African leaders are becoming more vocal about their interests. Africa is gaining platforms and recognition from global powers. I am optimistic that Africa’s dependence on others will diminish, and the continent will become more self-reliant.
African leaders often find themselves at global summits where external forces set the agenda, leaving Africa seemingly aligned with the interests of superpowers. How can Africa leverage its position to promote its own interests on the global stage this time?
Africa’s importance on the global stage has grown significantly. That is why global powers try to lobby Africa. They understand they cannot thrive without Africa’s support.
The interest of many countries, including Ethiopia, to join BRICS reflects the changing dynamics of global power structures. The shift towards multilateralism and the decrease in dominance by a single power will lead to cutthroat competition. This competition can benefit the developing world
Security concerns have been raised due to the influx of South Sudanese refugees into the Ethiopian border. Is IGAD taking any action on this issue?
It is impossible to halt the flow of refugees unless peace is secured in the source country. However, I do not see any significant problems between the refugees and host communities. In areas like Dolo Ado, where there is a large refugee population, there is no imminent threat.
Regarding the concerning human trafficking network in the Horn of Africa, which includes organ harvesting in Libya, who bears the responsibility for combating and controlling this issue?
This also falls under the responsibility of IGAD member countries. Human trafficking is often fueled by factors such as lack of alternative livelihoods. IGAD has conducted studies to identify the root causes and challenges of human trafficking and is providing recommendations to member countries.
However, it is difficult to stop migration and human trafficking due to unmet demands and other factors. Demand for cheap labor, for example, drives labor migration to Arab countries. IGAD is working closely with all relevant stakeholders to address this issue comprehensively.
The AU delegates most of its objectives to Regional Economic Communities (RECs). How do IGAD’s targets align with those of the AU?
Regional Economic Communities (RECs) serve as the building blocks that contribute to the broader objectives of the AU. The agendas of IGAD and the AU are aligned, but it is not about decentralization.
In the event that an IGAD member country violates an agreement or fails to comply with IGAD’s laws, what authority does IGAD possess to enforce its directives? For example, if Sudan’s two generals agree to a ceasefire but subsequently violate it, how would IGAD respond?
Each situation needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis. For example, in the case of Sudan, warring parties have yet to engage in peace talks, making it challenging for IGAD to enforce any agreements.
The Generals want the peace talks to be conducted by the Arab countries. There are a lot of initiatives on Sudan’s case. All initiatives concerning Sudan, including the GERD, should be harmonized under the umbrella of IGAD and the AU. It is crucial to resolve conflicts through an African solution for African problems.
The GERD is a valuable lessons. After Ethiopia agreed to accept the United States as an observer in the GERD talks, the dynamics changed. External actors such as the World Bank and the US Treasury became involved. This led to increased pressure and attempts to exert control over Ethiopia.
Has there been any progress since the peace talks in Zanzibar between the Ethiopian government and the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA)?
I haven’t heard any recent updates since the peace talks in Zanzibar.
IGAD’s role is primarily to facilitate when the two parties talk. However, intervening in the internal affairs of a specific country is challenging unless invited to do so. IGAD can only engage in facilitating talks if the country concerned invites us to do so.
The initiative for dialogue must come from the country itself.
What are some of IGAD’s upcoming projects?
IGAD has several projects in the pipeline, with a focus on sustainable peace and security. There are also initiatives aimed at promoting regional integration.
Once the peace dividend is ensured, IGAD plans to channel its full capacity towards development and regional integration efforts.