Addis Ababa — A two-day High Level Policy Dialogue on Conflict and Development in the Horn of Africa opened Monday in Addis Ababa with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development's Peace and Security Director, Ambassador Tewelde Gebremeskel, saying IGAD is at cross-roads as political and economic instabilities continue to be critical causes of conflicts leading to the fragility of states in the region.
In opening remarks to the dialogue that is being co-hosted by the ECA and IGAD, Ambassador Gebremeskel said domestic, regional and international geopolitical developments have presented serious challenges to peace and stability in the IGAD region.
"Political and religious upheavals in the Middle East over the last decade have changed the political and diplomatic landscape in the IGAD region and will probably continue to do so. In the Saudi-Yemen conflict, the Horn of Africa has become a battlefield for dominance, in addition to the fighting in Yemen, Syria and Libya," he said.
Mr. Gebremeskel said IGAD is a region where international and regional geopolitical and geo-economic interests dictate interventions. The interests include, but are not limited to, the maritime domain security, countering terrorism and violent extremism and anti-piracy efforts.
He said in addition, disputes over trans-boundary resources such as the Nile River and other border disputes, also play into peace and security dynamics of the region. Similarly, Mr. Gebremeskel added, 'the migration crisis also resulted in the European Union's knee-jerk diplomatic rapprochement in the region'.
"Our region is at cross-roads. Facing the dichotomy of crises and transformation, transitions. Transitions are often characterized by unpredictability and volatility," he said.
"Only correct interventions that support the transformation processes can ensure that the crises are abated and gradually reduced and ultimately eliminated from the region. Specially, in peace and security, transformation requires the building of predictive, responsive and adaptive capabilities in IGAD member States."
Mr. Gebremeskel said while governance was one of the causes and accelerators of the challenges to peace and security in the region, it was at the same time a game changer in determining peace and security in the region.
"This high level conference and researched materials on the cost of conflict in the region have to illuminate IGAD leaders to learn to fight all roots causes of conflict in order to bring about development and prosperity in the region," he told participants.
For his part, ECA's Capacity Development Division Director, Stephen Karingi, said persistent conflicts in some parts of the continent have had far reaching implications on Africa's aspirations to achieving socio-economic transformation and sustainable development.
Mr. Karingi said the continent's leaders, at all levels, are acutely aware of the constraints conflicts and associated instability have continued to impose on development efforts, including the negative impacts on efforts to actualize the continent's long-term development and transformation agenda embodied in Agenda 2063.
"Consider for example, the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa, which have witnessed violent and intractable conflicts, and as yet to emerge as fully stable and peaceful despite long years of regional and global mediation, peacekeeping and peace building efforts," he said.
He said new conflicts have emerged along the Sahel Belt part of the Horn of Africa, led by relatively new actors, vying to combine conventional and non-conventional warfare, targeting innocent civilians.
"These new conflicts are blatantly beyond the scope of the African Union and its Regional Economic Communities progressive peace and security architecture," Mr. Karingi said, adding it was against this background and within the framework of the longstanding strategic partnership between the AU and the ECA, that the ECA had undertaken an in-depth research and analyses of the root causes of conflicts in some regions of the continent.
The research focused particularly, on the Great Lakes, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa with an allied aim of assessing the cost and consequences of conflict on development.
The main goal of this dialogue it to have key stakeholders fully appreciate the findings of two reports titled; "Human and Economic cost of Conflict in the Horn" and "New Fringe Pastoralism in the Horn and the Sahel Region".
Participants will deliberate on the root causes of conflict, the economic and social consequences of conflict and how conflicts affect development and growth in the IGAD region. The study by renowned research depicts clearly the economic and social costs of conflicts and effects of conflict on development at large.
Mr. Karingi said the dialogue will enable member States to identify with the proposed policy options in the reports, recognize gaps in current practices and hone in on the core elements of such policies that are pertinent to their efforts to prevent and manage conflict as well as post conflict reconstruction.
The meeting ends Tuesday.