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Article: IGAD - Working for peace on the conflict affected Horn of Africa

Mrs. Legawork Assefa, Senior Programme Coordinator of IGAD’s Peace and Security Department in Addis Ababa
©IGAD: Early Warning Mechanism/CEWARN project. Photo is taking at the cross-border area - the border between South Western Ethiopia, North-Western Kenya, South Eastern South Sudan and North Eastern Uganda.

With support from Denmark, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has played a valuable role in peace efforts in Sudan and Somalia, explains Mrs. Legawork Assefa, who is the Senior Programme Coordinator of IGAD’s Peace and Security Department in Addis Ababa.

The Peace and Security Department of IGAD is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. IGAD works in a highly volatile region. The Horn of Africa has been marred by conflicts and crises for decades. Despite political disagreements and reoccurring confrontations between countries in the region, the IGAD member states cooperate, particularly under the auspices of IGAD.

To prevent, mediate and resolve conflicts in the region, Denmark has been supporting IGAD through its Africa Programme for Peace (APP) since 2004.

“Looking back, the Danish long-time support to IGAD specifically helped IGAD develop the first peace and security strategy that covered the years 2010-2015. This strategy defined the fundamentals for the development and activities of IGAD over the following years,” Mrs. Legawork Assefa says as she is reflecting on her more than 10 years of experience with IGAD. Denmark continues to support IGAD in its work for peace and conflict resolution in the region.


Regional conflicts and millions of refugees
The Danish flagship programme - Africa Programme for Peace (APP) - contributes to strengthening multilateral African institutions, such as the African Union, IGAD and the West African Regional Economic Community, ECOWAS.

Being an organization with peace and stability at the top of its agenda, IGAD has many challenges and conflicts to address in the region.

As the Regional Economic Community for the Horn of Africa, IGAD has played a significant political role in supporting South Sudan’s transition process. Similarly, in Somalia, IGAD has actively supported the Federal Government to resolve tensions between Somali clans and other actors to promote peaceful solutions to the long-running conflict. Recently IGAD has also been actively engaged in the peace negotiations between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front resulting in the Pretoria-agreement of November 2022, ending the two-year long conflict in northern Ethiopia.

“While the region has a huge potential for peace and development, the internal conflicts must be resolved primarily by the member states, but also through the IGAD platforms. So, I would say IGAD remains important, but we depend heavily on the political will of the member states and the space for multilateral mechanisms,” Mrs. Assefa explains.

Danish support to IGAD through the APP
Mrs. Assefa highlights that the Danish support through the APP has played a significant role in institutional capacity building of IGAD and the development of strategic priorities for the organisation. These priorities are Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution; Prevention and Management of Transnational Security Threats; Governance, Democracy, Rule of Law, and Human Rights; and Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development and Humanitarian Affairs. Danish support through the APP focuses on strengthening the ability of multilateral African institutions to respond to crises and conflict. Through the APP, Denmark is funding areas such as conflict prevention, mediation, and electoral management. The support is designed to respond to the drivers of conflict in Africa. This is in line with the current Danish strategy for development cooperation, ‘The World We Share’.

Read more about IGAD here: (link)