FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, October 11, 2019
The War Prevention Initiative commends the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali.
PORTLAND, OR – Since his election in 2018, Mr. Ahmed has spearheaded dramatic reforms in Ethiopia’s domestic and foreign affairs. Persistent challenges to peace remain. Kelsey Coolidge, program manager at the War Prevention Initiative notes: “These reforms put into practice the best research and evidence in global peace and security studies – a background from which Mr. Ahmed has a doctorate.”
First, Mr. Ahmed has prioritized the inclusion of women in formal decision-making roles in Ethiopia’s national government. Half of the twenty cabinet ministries are led by women, including top positions in defense and security, trade, and labor. Research featured in the Peace Science Digest shows that more peaceful and less corrupt societies are associated with higher levels of women’s participation in government.
Second, Mr. Ahmed has ushered in democratic reforms by releasing thousands of political prisoners, lifting bans on freedom of speech, opening the partial privatization of state-owned companies, and removing key opposition groups off the list of terrorist organizations. By opening space for civil society and opposition groups, Mr. Ahmed signals a commitment to uphold democratic values that are long associated with more peaceful societies.
Third, Mr. Ahmed struck a peace accord with neighboring adversary Eritrea. Formerly one country, the two countries fought in a brutal civil war that resulted in Eritrean independence. The countries continued to fight until a bitter stalemate severed all diplomatic, social, and economic ties. The success of Mr. Ahmed’s peace accord restored these ties and provided hope for resolution to the world’s other deeply entrenched conflicts.
Mr. Ahmed has accomplished a great deal in a short period of time to create a more peaceful and democratic Ethiopia and, more broadly, East Africa. However, these reforms bear certain risks. Ethnic tensions have flared, contributing to two million internally displaced persons.
Democratic transitions are notoriously difficult to navigate. A report from the Institute for Integrated Transitions argues that there needs to be a larger societal narrative of a different future in the aftermath of conflict. Poorly designed transitions leave too many voices unheard and can create opportunities for spoilers who are dissatisfied with changes. For example, coup d’états are the greatest threat to transitional democracies according to research from OEF Research. Currently, OEF Research CoupCast moderately ranks the risk of coup in Ethiopia at 2% for 2019.
The War Prevention Initiative informs and educates about viable alternatives to war and violence.
For further comment or questions, please contact Kelsey Coolidge at email@example.com.