IGAD: Horn’s unserviceable stooge and utensil

By T, Staffer of De Birhan Media31-05-2012

The Ethiopian regime’s embassies worldwide mainly those in Europe and beyond the Atlantic have begun reaching Somali and Eritrean communities in the Diaspora and holding lavish meetings with them. This comes as a surprise to many Ethiopians as their own Embassy that has never helped or reached but to mole now refocuses and engages with the Somalia Diaspora. Especially this month,prior and after the 21st anniversary of Ginbot 20, the date the regime toppled the communist Dictator Mengistu Hailemariam, meetings with Somali communities in Europe have been held.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa was created in 1996 to supersede the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) which was founded in 1986 reads the Authority’s Website.  The new mandate was adopted in March 1996 at the Nairobi summit and the organization was renamed the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The 1996 IGAD agreement included among its principles the peaceful settlement of conflicts, the maintenance of regional peace, stability and security, and the protection of human and peoples’ rights.  Headquartered in Djibouti, IGAD has a total area of 5,233,604Km2, a population of 187,969,775, 1,197 per capita, and seven member states namely; Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, KenyaSomaliaSudan and Uganda. Eritrea had suspended itself from membership.

The IGAD Partners Forum (IPF) consists of Austria, BelgiumCanada, Denmark, France, Greece, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, European Commission, and International Organization for Migration, United Nations Development Programme and  World Bank.  The present co-chairmanship of IPF is the Italian Government.IGAD is an unserviceable stooge

Sally Healy’s 2011 paper seeking peace and security in the Horn of Africa: the contribution of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development is one of the few studies conducted on the Inter-Governmental Authority. As to Sally, one of the remarkable accomplishments of IGAD is the signing of the Sudan and Somali peace agreements in quick succession in late 2004 and early 2005. IGAD assisted in talks that produced Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government in 2004. According to Sally a sort of ‘deadline diplomacy’ was created due to its financial dependences on donor countries that attached deadlines on diplomacy. Despite the successful mediations in Sudan and Somalia, IGAD is still far from providing an institutional basis for regional security in the Horn of Africa.


Sally furthermore asserts, the absence of a country that plays a “regional leadership role” as South Africa and Nigeria do in their own regions was it weakens, “Ethiopia’s recent efforts to secure this position for itself (for example, in Somalia) appear to have made matters worse.”  Kenya which is well head in many aspects from the member states has been focusing on together with Ugandaon the East African Community project and the regional block has not been assertive enough to bring back or divert these members.

According to the official Website of IGAD, the mission is to assist and complement the efforts of the Member States to achieve through increased cooperation:

  • Food Security and environmental protection: Two of the main objectives of IGAD that relate to this mission are to : Achieve regional food security and encourage and assist efforts of Member States to collectively combat drought and other natural and man-made disasters and their natural consequences; Initiate and promote programmes and projects to achieve regional food security and sustainable development of natural resources and environment protection, and encourage and assist efforts of Member States to collectively combat drought and other natural and man-made disasters and their consequences. This mission of IGAD is the most baffling of all and evidence against itself why the Grouping should soon be overhauled. The IGAD region since its establishment has never been able to predict drought and food insecurity and help the people of the region to be self-sufficient in food. Annoyingly enough, the worst drought in the world has recently been in the IGAD region. A report by Bloomberg on May 31, 2012 states Ethiopia faces more hunger after late rains caused crop damage in the south. “In Ethiopia a deterioration of the food security situation should be expected over the coming five months,” Judith Schuler, a spokeswoman for the World Food Programme told Bloomberg. What has IGAD done ever since its establishment in achieving its objectives? In short, IGAD worsened or indirectly contributed to the increasing food insecurity situation in the Region.
  • Promotion and maintenance of peace and security and humanitarian affairs, and, Border conflict, internal instability and undemocratic states hinder this mission of IGAD. For instance, IGAD’s Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) that monitors three areas of pastoral border conflict has not been able to either predict, monitor or resolve conflicts within the borders of these countries. For example pastoralists between Ethiopian and Kenyan border often conflict with human and property loss. Sally states “Since IGAD added peace and security to its mandate there has been no appreciable reduction in the level of conflict in the Horn of Africa or any significant signs of movement towards collective security arrangements.” The instability of Somalia that was not handled but rather propelled IGAD member states is one good case. Sudan has not been stable for long and is now kept apart from its Southern counterpart by external peacekeepers.   Ethiopia and Eritrea remain to be the main perils of regional instability. Both have been in stalemate with on and off border attacks. Both arm the opponents of each regime and are involved in proxy war in Somalia and neighboring countries.  “Their intense mutual hostility continues to poison regional relations and remains the key obstacle to developing a more robust regional security framework.” Sally points out. In its Khartoum Declaration, the 8th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development recommended a number of concrete measures to be taken by Member States. These included: “Encouraging regional associations among civil society institutions at the national level to enhance their contribution to the effort of promoting participatory democracy across the region.” Funnily, the opposite is true as all the member states of IGAD except Kenya are enemies of NGOs and CSOs. What makes this declaration a nullity is the fact that IGAD has no member state that has a democratically elected leader or government. At times the Authority argues on behalf of war criminals such as Omar Al Bashir of Sudan warrants by the International Criminal Court.
  • Economic cooperation and integration. Since 2008 with initiatives to improve the investment, trade and banking environments of member states IGAD stressed the deployment of highly innovative programs and mechanisms however; the regional block has not brought any negligible economic cooperation or integration between inter-states and the region as a whole. For example Ethiopia-Sudan and Ethiopia-Kenya have made border agreements to open and free trade. The free trade and travel agreements were less implementable due to non-demarcated borders, ethnic conflicts, and illegal migration. Moreover, most of these countries don’t have stable and saturated economies thus makes economic cooperation very difficult. 
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region. ECOWAS is the Western African counterpart of IGAD. ECOWAS since its establishment has made greatest strides in the region in all terms and is proving as an unexceptionable regional block. One of its achievements is the production of ECOWAS passport that unifies and globalises all member countries. Since its establishment ECOWAS has been practical in achieving the following : the establishment of an Allied Armed Force of the Community,  ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, West African Economic and Monetary Union,  West African CFA franc,  common external tariff, ECOWAS has also been able in preventing and solving regional and intrastate conflicts. It has been able to show many recognisable economic and political advances in the Region surpassing other regions and countries of Africa. The only regional block that competes with it is CommonMarket for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The major reasons for its success are its accountability to the people of the region and the aims of the Organisation. Comparatively analyzing IGAD with ECOWAS leaves IGAD at a disadvantage of incompatibility due to its multi-pronged weaknesses. 

Sally’s study notes that IGAD’s secretariat played no visible role in containing or resolving the serious conflicts of the last five years in Darfur, in the Ogaden, in Mogadishu, in Kenya, in South Sudan or between Eritrea and Djibouti.  IGAD is a mere security proxy and stooge of few Western puppet states such as Meles’ Ethiopia and Kenya. While IGAD was established with the aim and mission of working for the people of the region, it has totally forgotten its nascent dreams and now remains as an unserviceable utensil for the people of the region. Dictatorial states of IGAD cooperate to hunt, extradite and harass their critics and rebels. Funding contributions from Donors is used for such purposes of cross border rebel and critics control in the name of preventing piracy, radicalism and crimes. The volatility of the region, keeps IGAD and the dictatorial member states at a competitive advantage of getting immense/blind support (financial, diplomatic, political and military). It has become accountable to the IPF than the larger population of the IGAD region leaving the region’s populace in the ditch. IGAD needs to be overhauled. Its current format, mission and performance makes the clarion call for it to be overhauled timely. Some recommendations for the strengthening of IGAD could be; having members from opposition parties, think tanks, NGOs and human rights organisations as members or observers of the Authority, electing the heads and members of the secretariat, Assembly of Heads of State and Government through a free and fair election from the public, changing the current structure of IGAD leadership and member appointment and election system. Funders should consider the risks that accompany helping an ineffective regional Authority dominated by unelected leaders, unstable and undemocratic regimes with parties that promote their self-interests. If funders and IPF look at longer term strategic gains from and in the region, they should work towards stabilizing and democratizing the member states apriori.


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