What Ethiopia and Tigray need for successful peace talks | Conflict

Above August 24, 2022The wheels have fallen out of the not-so-easy nine-month armistice between the Ethiopian and Tigrayan governments, with a massive military offensive on dozens of fronts in Tigray.

An informal cessation of hostilities was reached after Tigrayan forces withdrew from the neighboring Afar and Amhara areas in December 2021. In the ensuing period, both sides called for reconciliation to bring an end to the hostilities. ending the war, as the humanitarian situation in northern Ethiopia deteriorated.

U.S. mediation efforts to restore the ceasefire in early September failed. Deadly war in Tigray – killed more than half a million people, leaving more than 5.6 million won The king cobra starved to death and displaced two million more people – has flared up again. In some ways, the signs were ominous for a while: The government in Addis Ababa, in early August, refused raise the encirclement on Tigray and has criticized the joint visit of the special envoys of the United Nations, the United States and the European Union to the region’s capital, Mekelle.

However, a new peace opportunity has arisen – if the parties to the conflict and organizations such as the United Nations, currently meeting in New York, can take advantage of it urgently.

On September 11, 2022 – Ethiopian New Year – Tigray government expressed its willingness continue to negotiate mediated by the African Union, effectively sent the ball into Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s field. Now, proactive mediation is needed to prevent the entire region from being sucked into a larger abyss, saving tens of thousands of lives and reducing suffering for millions.

Negotiations between the Ethiopian and Tigray governments will determine the future of both the region and the country. In the Horn of Africa, 66 million won people have been affected by drought. The stakes for the international community are very high. Then, what can be done to restore the truce and build a permanent ceasefire? What needs to be done to ensure successful mediation?

Understanding military reality

On one side of the war are Ethiopian, Amhara and Eritrean forces controlling the resources of a population of over 120 million with two sovereign states and foreign allies offers military-grade drones. On the other side is the Tigray Defense Force (TDF) representing the resistance of less than eight million Tigray people. Their war of attrition will hit the two-year mark on November 4, 2022.

The success of reconciliation efforts depends heavily on the military strength on the ground, the political will of the warring parties, and the determination of the international community to end the war – as reflected in various sources. diplomatic, financial, and other resources it deploys.

Furthermore, the success of mediation depends on the mediators and their strategies. That will determine the process, structure and agenda of the talks, how to prioritize the different issues being discussed, and other key components of the negotiation. In this case, the AU, as the main mediator in consultation with other special envoys, has yet to develop a clear strategy. That can be dangerous because discredited mediation makes conflicts even more complicated than before and reduces trust in the utility of such efforts.

Need a fair mediator

After Tigray expressed reservations about the current African Union (AU) envoy, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the organization was obliged to appoint other mediators acceptable to both sides. .

Equity is the foundation of proactive reconciliation. Former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who has aligned both parties, has been appointed by his successor William Ruto as his country’s special envoy for Ethiopia and the Great Lakes. The United States, the European Union and other countries have endorse Kenyatta’s appointment. The AU should also consider promptly appointing Kenyatta as its envoy to Ethiopia, while Obasanjo remains Horn’s envoy.

Important next steps

To achieve military disbandment, it is important to cease hostilities. This would allow a return to peace talks towards a ceasefire and transitional security. Unlike a mere armistice, a ceasefire requires an overall agreement on the political agenda for the items of peace negotiations.

That agenda must include confidence-building measures, including unfettered access to humanitarian aid and the immediate resumption of civilian transport, electricity, telecommunications, banking, payroll, fuel delivery and other items vital to the survival of millions of people in Tigray. These are the prerequisites for negotiations. Another confidence-building measure would be the release of prisoners of war and political prisoners, including Tigrayan members of the Ethiopian army and the security sector.

To begin the process and prepare the ground for substantive and complex political-military negotiations, it is necessary to issue a Declaration of Principles – which sets the parameters for the negotiations – to determine guide the reconciliation process.

This will not be easy. There are some conundrums involved. These included requests from Tigray to withdraw all non-TDF forces from all territories in the region, meaning a return to pre-war military positions. Ethiopia needs to recognize the TDF as the sole security provider for Tigray and respect the will of the people of the region, including their right to hold a referendum within an agreed timeframe. Finally, there should be liability before an international tribunal for atrocities established by report of the International Commission on Human Rights Experts (ICHRE) on Ethiopia.

Involvement of the international community

Finding consensus on these issues and bridging differences in a way that is tied to human rights will require unified international support for reconciliation.

In turn, effective mediation requires robust and coercive compliance mechanisms and enforcement measures against violators, including provisions for sanctions against individuals. selected personnel, regional travel bans, asset freezes, and exclusion from political office in future governance arrangements.

The war in Tigray continues to recur in part due to the failure of the international and African communities to come up with concrete measures to end Ethiopia’s siege in the region. The Ukraine war has diverted resources, leadership, and attention from the international community from the catastrophic war in Ethiopia – and set some clear double standards.

After all, in terms of scale and humanitarian consequences, the conflict in Ukraine – while gruesome – pales in comparison to the ongoing battles of attrition in Tigray, which has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people. .

The United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly must urgently discuss the situation in Ethiopia and consider the report of the International Commission on Human Rights on Ethiopia to be presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva this week. this.

Only a fraction of the money the Western world has spent so far in support of Ukraine’s resistance to Russian aggression has been able to end the war in the Horn of Africa, end its suffering. hundreds of millions of people.

For true peace to prevail in the region, the world needs to wake up. The current.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial views of Al Jazeera.

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