Despite significant progress in human development and economic growth in the Horn of Africa over the last decade,the region is still one of the most insecure regions in the world and ranks low on global indicators of human security, rule of law and good governance.Learn More

Though the region’s last full scale inter-state conflict, the Ethio-Eritrean war ended in 2000, large parts of the region has remained caught in destructive cycles of poverty and intra-state violence over the past two decades. Cross-border fighting between Sudan and South Sudan in 2012, ongoing inter-clan fighting in Somalia, the Global War on Terror and its ensuing military interventions in Somalia, and the violent outbreak in South Sudan in 2013-14 confirm the region is still far from durable peace.

Various forms of structural violence, such as economic disparity or gender inequality, as well as local conflicts within and between different communities are realities faced by people throughout region. However, even though local conflict dynamics and structural violence are strongly correlated with conflicts at the national and regional levels, these realities are often sidelined in regional and global decision-making circles.

Indeed regional and continental peace and security has been a prominent theme on the agenda of the African Union (AU) and bodies such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)- the primary sub-regional body tasked with ensuring peace and security in the Horn of Africa Region. National, regional and continental leaders have shown a growing commitment to address the peace and security, as well as development challenges of the continent. For example, the African Union (AU) has devised the African Peace and Security Architecture through which it coordinates its continental conflict prevention, resolution and post-conflict resolution efforts. IGAD on its part plans to expand the mandates of the conflict early warning response mechanism (CEWARN) that was successful in preventing and managing cross-border pastoralist conflicts. IGAD-CEWARN’s new strategy for 2012-2017 includes conflict management and post-conflict reconstruction aspects of peacebuilding.

Despite these laudable efforts, many observers and analysts agree that regional peacebuilding responses have been scant and uncoordinated in the Horn of Africa. Further, most of these regional responses at the IGAD and AU level have taken a more state-centric and militaristic approach that is often limited to conflict management. State-centric analysis and response often overlook local conflicts, which are seen as non-threatening to state security, despite their direct effect on the human security of those that have to deal with them. Further, focus on militaristic and conflict management approaches have a tendency to amount to ‘fire-fighting’ or merely containing violent conflicts, without dealing with the root causes of these conflicts. The combination of these realities amounts to incomplete peacebuilding effort that needs to be bolstered with multi-level and comprehensive approaches that include short to long term interventions.

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