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Working Paper no. 59

- Regional and Global Axes of Conflict -




Sally Healy

Royal Institute of International Affairs

November 2009

Crisis States Working Papers Series No.2

ISSN 1749-1797 (print) ISSN 1749-1800 (online) Copyright © S. Healy, 2009 24 Crisis States Working Paper

Peacemaking in the Midst of War:

An Assessment of IGAD’s Contribution to Regional Security in the Horn of Africa Sally Healy Royal Institute of International Affairs Introduction The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is the regional organisation of seven Eastern African countries with a stated ambition to achieve peace, prosperity and regional integration among its member states. Each of these objectives is challenging, but none more so than the prevention, management and resolution of violent conflict in a region that has been steeped in warfare for decades. The current conflicts in the Horn of Africa include civil war in Darfur, protracted state collapse in Somalia, deep hostility and a stalled peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea, a fragile peace agreement between North and South Sudan, a border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti and periodic bouts of unrest in the Ogaden and Northern Uganda.

This paper assesses the contribution that IGAD has made to regional security in the Horn of Africa since the mid 1990s. It begins with a brief account of the origins of IGAD in 1986 and the development of its peace and security mandate in 1996, set in the context of an evolving African regionalism. It then examines the two major peace processes over which IGAD has presided, the first for Sudan (1993-2005) and then the Somali process (2002-2004). The next section considers the overall effectiveness of IGAD’s contribution to peace and security and assesses the success of IGAD’s reconciliation efforts in Sudan and Somalia. The paper argues that the regional security framework of IGAD was conceived during an exceptional (and brief) interlude of good relations among all its member states. It attributes the subsequent failure of IGAD to prevent or resolve much of the serious conflict in the Horn to an entrenched political culture that endorses the use of force and mutual intervention by states in each other’s conflicts and domestic affairs. It notes that IGAD member states continue to fuel conflict even when reconciliation talks are in progress and suggests that where positive results have been achieved these are more the product of regional power politics than of IGAD’s institutional strength. It concludes that the scope for the IGAD Secretariat to develop an autonomous conflict-resolution capability will remain limited, but that member states will still seek to utilise IGAD’s authority to legitimise their own regional policies.

The African and International Context The efforts within IGAD to improve security arrangements in the Horn of Africa took place in the context of a broad international consensus that regional organisations should contribute to the management of conflict and the maintenance of international order. The UN’s 1992 Agenda for Peace had set out a vision for securing peace and security in the post cold war world that highlighted the role that regional organisations could play in conflict prevention and peacemaking.1 It articulated a new collaborative relationship between the United Nations and regional bodies for the management of regional crises that is now firmly established in

1 UN A/47/277-S/24111 17 June 1992

1 international practice. Increasingly, regional and sub-regional groupings are seen as the first resort for problems transcending national borders, leaving the wider international community to deal with problems that cannot be solved at lower levels. Against this background there has been considerable external encouragement for the development of African regional organisations capable of addressing peace and security problems.

The concept of regionalism has considerable resonance in Africa. It chimes with the aspiration of Africans to handle continental problems without external interference. However, the structural conditions that have favoured the emergence of regionalism elsewhere in the world are generally lacking in Africa. Regionalism in Europe was built on the foundation of strong nation states, each comprising a government capable of protecting its borders, exercising control of its territory, enjoying a monopoly of the legitimate use of force and capable of providing security and community to all its citizens. This combination of the attributes of statehood is lacking in many African countries. State weakness has tended to reinforce the attachment of Africa’s political leaders to juridical sovereignty and the fierce protection of statehood rather then encouraging effective forms of regionalism (Clapham 1996). Despite a plethora of regional organisations and several ailing states on the continent, sovereignty remains as fundamental as ever in the conduct of Africa’s international relations.

The establishment of the African Union (AU) in 2002 marked a shift towards consolidating African peace and security activities at the regional level (Godfrey 2008). The AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC), launched in May 2004, is the key decision-making body in the new architecture. Its guiding principles include respect for the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, sanctity of boundaries and non-interference; but these exist alongside radically new interventionist principles incorporated in the AU’s Constitutive Act. AU member states have authorised the PSC, whose membership is tilted towards Africa’s larger and stronger states, to act on their behalf. The fifteen-member Council can authorise the deployment of peace-support missions, recommend intervention on behalf of the AU and

approve the modalities for intervention to restore peace and security (African Union 2002:

Arts 4h & i).

The AU’s peace and security architecture provides the broader institutional setting within which IGAD and Africa’s other regional organisations operate. The ‘regional mechanisms’ are formally recognised as part of this architecture and the PSC is required to harmonise its activities with them2. In practice the AU looks to the sub-regional organisations to lead on crisis management within their own regions (Adar 2000). This has certainly been the case in the Horn of Africa, where the PSC has consistently endorsed all the initiatives emanating from IGAD.

Conflict in the Horn and the Early Development of IGAD (1986-96) With more than fifty member states, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was never well suited to spearhead political or economic harmonisation at the regional level. By 1980, the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) and the South African Development Co-ordination Conference (SADCC)3 were established and Africa’s subregional organisations had been recognised as the appropriate building blocks for economic integration.4 During the 1980s the UN Economic Commission for Africa worked to 2 Protocol relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, Article 16 3 The forerunner to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) formed in 1996 with the addition of South Africa 4 The key role for regional economic communities in African economic integration was agreed in the OAU’s Lagos Plan of Action 1980 2 strengthen regional economic communities and to establish such groupings where none existed.

The Horn of Africa lacked a sub-regional organisation. Then, as now, it was an exceptionally unstable area and political relations among the states of the region were extremely bad. The rationale for the new body was not overtly political. The impetus for establishment of IGAD came from UN agencies that saw the urgent need for a regional coordination agency in which to address problems of famine and drought that had devastated Ethiopia and Somalia during 1984 and 1985 (Shaw 1995). In 1986, the governments of six countries − Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti − signed up to form the Inter-Governmental Authority against Drought and Desertification (IGADD). The name of the organisation betrayed no political ambitions for greater regional integration. IGADD’s aspirations were confined to functional co-ordination on environmental protection, food security strategies and natural resource management.

Political relations among IGADD member states remained very limited. Ethiopia and Somalia had not restored relations since the Ogaden war ended in 1978. In the course of the 1980s Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Somalia all endured very violent civil wars in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed. Operating with a zero sum approach to security in the region, the governments routinely sought to destabilise one another: Ethiopia was backing rebel groups in Sudan and Somalia; Sudan and Somalia were backing rebels in Ethiopia.

There was no real potential for institution building. However, the inaugural IGADD summit in 1986 was the occasion for a first meeting between President Siad Barre of Somalia and President Mengistu Haile Mariam. In order to concentrate resources on the Ethiopian civil war, Mengistu decided to seek normalisation with Somalia The meeting at IGADD paved the way for the signing of a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Somalia in April 1988 in which both sides agreed to not to assist rebel organisations based in each other’s territory.

It is symptomatic of instability in the Horn that five years after its creation, half of IGADD’s founding heads of state had been driven from office, all by unconstitutional means. In Sudan, Omar el Bashir seized power in 1989 and established an Islamist government. In Ethiopia, Mengistu was overthrown in 1991 by a dual rebel alliance that split the country into two parts.

Meles Zenawi went on to establish a new federal system of government in Ethiopia while supporting Issayas Afewerki to achieve the legal separation of Eritrea as an independent state in 1993. In Somalia, Siad Barre was removed from power by rebel forces in 1991, ushering in a protracted period of state collapse and the emergence of a separatist administration in Somaliland. While Somalia has yet to emerge from crisis, the new leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea quickly consolidated their rule and were keen to exploit the opportunities for regional co-operation. Along with President Museveni in Uganda they set about revitalising IGADD with a much more ambitious mandate, including regional security.

With the accession of newly independent Eritrea to IGADD in 1993 the membership grew to seven. By then, Somalia was no longer a functioning state, so effective membership remained at six, making IGADD one of the smallest African sub-regional groupings.5 While IGADD’s membership remained small it covered a vast territory of 5.2 million square kilometres. Its combined population of 174 million comfortably exceeded that of SADC. High levels of poverty and underdevelopment are characteristic of the IGADD grouping, with average GNP per inhabitant only US$383.3 per annum and an average life expectancy of 47.2 years.6 5 ECOWAS had 16 members and SADC 10, which rose to 11 with the accession of South Africa 6 Figures from IGAD Secretariat publication, citing World Development Indicators database 2005 3 There were striking differences among the IGADD states. The grouping included Africa’s largest country, Sudan, as well as one of its smallest, Djibouti. It contained Africa’s oldest country, Ethiopia, as well as its newest, Eritrea. Political histories ranged through continuous civilian rule in Kenya and Djibouti, to protracted state collapse in Somalia and violent conflict as a consistent feature of political life in Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan and Eritrea. The region was also a cultural crossroads where North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa meet and where race, ethnicity and religion have all been mobilised for political ends. Because of its strategic location, external powers have frequently intervened in the politics of the Horn and exacerbated local conflicts (Woodward 2003).

The characteristics of conflict in the Horn of Africa made the development of peace and security mechanisms both more urgent and more difficult than in other regions of Africa (Khadiagala 2008a). Conflict had occurred at every level – within states, between states and among proxies as well as between government armies. The use of force to achieve political goals was the regional norm and democratic accountability was largely absent. Regime change was generally achieved through violent rather than peaceful means, just as political grievances were typically addressed through armed rebellion. Inequitable sharing of national resources and lack of representation in the structures of government lay at the root of many of the internal conflicts. Large communities experienced economic marginalisation and political exclusion, often mirroring ethnic, religious and racial or clan fault lines (Healy 2008).

Many of the conflicts in the Horn challenged the basis of statehood. This applied to the dynamics of Ethiopia and Eritrea, North and South Sudan and Somalia and Somaliland. The implicit (and sometimes explicit) possibilities of new states emerging from conflict meant that essentially domestic conflicts had foreign policy implications. The advancement of (regional) foreign policy through proxy forces in neighbouring countries was part of the ‘normal’ pattern of relations, entrenching a system of mutual intervention that had proved highly resilient and survived radical political reconfigurations, including changes of regime (Cliffe 1999). With hostile neighbours generally acting as enablers and multipliers of one another’s conflicts there were plentiful opportunities for trouble making.

The principles of the OAU, particularly that of ‘non-interference’, did not guide regional relationships in the Horn. The IGADD member states had been extensively involved in each other’s internal wars. Presidents Museveni, Meles and Issayas had all won military victories against the prevailing order and were proud to have overturned abusive regimes. They had no attachment to the stagnant kind of stability that the OAU represented. In his maiden speech to the organisation in 1986, Museveni recalled the deaths of 750,000 Ugandans and spoke of the

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