What is the path to peace in Ethiopia? – The Organization for World Peace

In Ethiopia, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) Tigrayan Defense Forces are fighting against the Ethiopian National Defense Force, which has joined forces with Eritrean troops and Amhara forces to form the current Ethiopian government. , led by President Abiy Ahmed. Although the parties can be divided according to their social identity, the conflict itself has its roots in societal structures in Ethiopia that have created horizontal inequalities between social groups. The current government believes that the recently outmoded TPLF, which ruled Ethiopia for decades, is a corrupt organization. As a governing body, the TPLF created an ethnic federalist system and generated a structure that only benefited itself. Presiding over uneven but rapid economic growth, the TPLF controlled the most powerful positions in government despite an inaccurate portrayal of the identity of the Ethiopian peoples.

Since President Abiy took office and the conflict in Ethiopia evolved, the government has sought to restore order and control to Ethiopian territory, reversing the structural inequalities created and imposed by the TPLF. Moving away from the earlier governmental and social structures of the ethnic federalist system, the government began to institutionalize the changes made under Abiy’s leadership, replicating the structural discrimination that occurred when the TPLF was in power using violence. This violence has become largely one-sided, as asymmetries have increasingly disadvantaged the Tigrayan people, even as both sides continue to struggle to realize their interests. The violence does not necessarily become increasingly destructive, but it continues and the dynamics of the conflict continue to change.

Although a structure-based origin-of-conflict theory can provide a fundamental understanding of the Ethiopian conflict, its scope is limited. Social structures exist in a larger context. Although these systems are embedded in aspects of society and form part of cultural norms, they are not always the sole contributor or cause of unrest within a society and do not inherently take into account the uniqueness of cultures across the world. inside. Conflict occurs at different levels and if not applied in a holistic perspective, the structural level can be exaggerated and overly simplistic. A remedy for this weakness exists in a synthesis between subjectivist and objectivist approaches to how social systems generate violence, as well as an understanding of horizontal inequalities.

Structures are instituted by people – often a power elite group – to serve a purpose. This is the case in Ethiopia; the systems are not natural, but internalized and preserved. These societal structures are the source of many contemporary conflicts – however, a structure-based view may not be comprehensive enough to capture the multidimensional nature of intra-state conflict or even conflict as a whole. There is an interplay between the structural, individual and cultural order that needs to be addressed.

Although the parties involved in the Ethiopian conflict are culturally diverse, they share unmistakable similarities. Similar to structural systems, culture is embedded in everyday life and shapes a person’s behavior, perceptions, and knowledge. Culture shapes how one understands what a conflict is, how it should be managed, and what constitutes an acceptable resolution. It operates at an unconscious level and defines what is right, moral and just. Not only do the parties involved in the conflict have different goals for conflict resolution, but they also have different criteria for evaluating what successful conflict resolution looks like. However, in the case of Ethiopia, there are many similarities.

Although within each party there are diverse cultures with varying patterns of behavior embedded in expectations and norms, there are connections that can be made between groups. The TPLF is not completely representative of the cultures of the people of Tigray, and the current government is not completely representative of the remaining cultures found in Ethiopia such as the cultures of the Oromo or Amhara ethnic groups. While the incumbent government seeks order and control over the territory, the various groups and cultures that share this same broad perspective have different ideas about what constitutes appropriate and effective measures of order. Nevertheless, an end is undoubtedly sought by each of the parties. There may never be an entirely “successful” resolution to the conflict that fully satisfies the criteria of all parties and all cultures. Yet compromise is crucial in the context of the culture and the conflict as a whole.

Given the current state of conflict in Ethiopia, it seems that the best and most necessary path to achieving peace would be an approach that combines formal and informal processes. Formal negotiations involve very few elite actors and would lack the vigor to bring about the comprehensive changes needed to make progress towards building peace in Ethiopia. Grassroots peacebuilding efforts are a more likely solution at this stage, however, this would require massive grassroots participation, which may not be as feasible with animosity and violence still rampant between groups. despite the desire to see an end to the conflict.

Targeting local leaders and prioritizing the development of strategies, influencing public opinion and organizing resources to help resolve the conflict offers a more comprehensive approach. Use of this track would allow for frank but structured peacemaking efforts while allowing voices to be heard through the participation of the most important figures from the regional groups. In Ethiopia, the best scenario would be to achieve this by encouraging dialogue between groups through problem-solving workshops through mediators and facilitators. These smaller-scale workshops would serve as first steps to delivering larger-scale solutions across the country. Interactive problem solving thus enables the development of solutions that address the underlying causes of conflict, as each party’s needs for security, identity, participation and autonomy could be recognized and addressed with a renewed perspective.

Unofficial third-party mediation would be necessary for the execution of these processes in Ethiopia, as trust between the parties is not well established. This third party would be process-oriented and seek to enable participants to build relationships in a venue that fosters the generation of creative solutions. Ultimately, the Ethiopian conflict is at a stage that requires proper recognition of each party, its interests and its needs. A compound approach using problem-solving workshops led by a third-party facilitator would provide the best way to begin peacebuilding in a sensitive way that allows for constructive work on a larger solution.

Aubrey L. Morgan