Recently I came across an article with a title ‘Ethiopia Refuses to Abdicate IGAD Chairmanship.’
I was intrigued by the data presented and the assertions made in the article regarding Ethiopia’s unjustifiable domination of the regional body. Hence, I wanted to check its veracity by referring the Communiqués issued by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) since its revitalization in 1996. What I discovered made me seriously doubt the validity of referring IGAD a ‘regional organization.’
“The IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government held its Extra-Ordinary Summit on….under the Chairmanship of H.E…Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and the current Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly.”
.“The Extra-ordinary Meeting of the IGAD Council of Ministers was convened on….The Council was chaired by H.E. … Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the current chair of the IGAD Council of Ministers.”
The phrase ‘current chair’ featured in these Communiqués is a misnomer. For all intents and purposes, Ethiopia has transformed its Chairmanship to a permanent status. In the seventeen years of the revitalized IGAD, the Heads of State and Government held twenty-two Summits. Out of these eleven were held after 2008, Ethiopia chaired all of them.
The record of the Council of Ministers, the second most important policy-organ, is equally appalling. So far the Council has held 48 Sessions, out of these 24 took place since 2008 and were chaired by the Foreign Ministers of Ethiopia.
In general, thirty-five sessions of the IGAD policy-organs, amounting to half of all the sessions held since the revitalization of IGAD in 1996, were chaired by the leaders of a single Member State: Ethiopia. Moreover, Ethiopia has had a disproportionate advantage in terms of hosting IGAD meetings. Since June 2008, it hosted in Addis Ababa all but two IGAD Summits, and sixteen out of the twenty-four sessions of the Council of Ministers. 
Given the fact that, in the last 6 years Ethiopia has single-handedly hosted and chaired virtually all meetings of the IGAD policy-organs, we can safely conclude that IGAD has shifted from being a Regional Organization into a forum run by one of its member States. In terms of form and substance, it is difficult to differentiate IGAD from the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa (THLF).
The THLF is run by its creator Professor Endrias Eshete, an Advisor to the Ethiopian Prime Minister with the rank of a Minister, and has the mission of hosting annual retreats for African leaders and prominent personalities in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
In both cases, Ethiopia plays host, sets the agendas and chairs the deliberations. The participation of others is no more than an attempt to give ‘regional/African face’ and legitimacy to the forums and the decisions they make.
 Information regarding the venues and dates of four sessions of the Council is not available.
Written By: Samuel Tsehaye