Peace and security along the borderlands in the Horn of Africa and consolidating the reform agenda in Ethiopia


Peace and security along the borderlands in the Horn of Africa and consolidating the reform agenda in Ethiopia

Join Pact – a leading development organization operating in 40 countries – in partnership with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, for an expert-level discussion assessing ongoing political reforms taking place in Ethiopia: What does it mean for the international community and donors? How do the reforms impact security within and across its borders, and for the stability of the Horn of Africa? What is the wider importance of working in the borderlands of the Horn of Africa that cut across issues such as violent extremism, conflict, governance and resilience?

Ethiopia political reforms challenges and opportunities (10 am – 12 pm)

Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has made unprecedented political reforms in Ethiopia. He has released political prisoners, implemented judicial and media reforms, passed legislation that has opened civil society spaces, and has ended the state of conflict with Eritrea, to name a few accomplishments. While this political transformation has been extraordinary, it has not come without its challenges. Ethnic violent conflict has erupted, resulting in the highest numbers of internally displaced people in the world affecting nearly all regions of the country. There is concern that, while these political reforms indicate positive opportunities for engagement and change in Ethiopia, the 2020 elections may catalyze further violence, potentially de-stabilizing the greater Horn of Africa.

Discussion on peace and security along the borderlands in the Horn of Africa (1 – 3 pm)

In the greater Horn of Africa, national governments’ focus on geopolitics and security results in borders that create barriers between populations rather than facilitating and formalizing interactions. In recent decades the emergence of global risks such as climate change and violent extremism has led to a hardening of borders, with states seeking to keep people out. This runs directly counter to the habits of isolated and marginalized borderland communities, for whom access to resources has traditionally been determined by cooperation between communities, as opposed to economic and social ties to the national capitals.

Border management strategies become about exclusion and control, at a time when interstate cooperation is most needed to address these multinational threats. Rather than achieving its intended security objectives, the formal ‘closure’ of many of the porous country borders in the Horn of Africa does little to ensure security. Instead, they serve to limit the potential for legal, cross-border interaction, which itself would support security efforts and reduce illicit activities. Climate change is also threatening the pre-existing relationships between border communities, which are critical to the economic and personal health and survival of these communities as resources become inconsistent and scarce. Additionally, border closures limit communities’ ability to cooperate on conflict and risk management, which only furthers vulnerability as violent conflict increases in the region. Groups such as Al Shabaab capitalize on this, creating narratives around deprivation.


Elizabeth (Liz) Hume, Vice President, Alliance for Peacebuilding: Liz Hume is a conflict expert and has more than 20 years of experience in senior leadership positions in bi-lateral, multi-lateral institutions and NGOs.  She has extensive experience in policy and advocacy and overseeing sizeable and complex peacebuilding programs in conflict affected and fragile states in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.  Liz was the Chief of Party for Pact where she managed a USAID funded conflict resolution and governance program in Ethiopia for more than four years.  She also served in leadership positions and helped establish the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation at USAID developing programs and policies to improve the USG’s ability to address the causes of violent deadly conflict.  Liz holds a BA, a JD f and a MA in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding.


Sarah Gibbons, Chief of Party, PEACE III, Pact: Sarah Gibbons is a drylands and conflict management professional with 17 years of experience in the Horn of Africa, conceptualizing, managing, and evaluating peace-building, environmental governance, and dryland livelihoods program. She is currently the Chief of Party for the USAID-funded PEACE III program, providing strategic leadership for this complex, regional conflict mitigation program across five countries’ borders. Prior to working for Pact, Sarah worked at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, as the Regional Drylands Technical Coordinator, and at Mercy Corps in Ethiopia leading the USAID-funded Strengthening Institutions for Peace and Development program. She brings a multi-sectoral lens to programming, investigating the links between violence, insecurity, and other forms of vulnerability.   

Yussuf Mohammed Abdulahi, EU Trust Fund Team Leader, Pact: Yussuf Mohamed Abdullahi is an expert in conflict management and international development with specializations in conflict-affected environments, resiliency, stabilization, democracy, and community-driven development programming in the Horn of Africa. He currently serves as the Regional Team Lead for the EU funded SEEK and RASMI projects, which are cross-border programs operating in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. Prior to joining Pact, Mr. Abdullahi held different positions in USAID, the private sector and other INGOS.

Daniel Bekele, Consultant, Human Rights Defender and Advocate; Daniel Bekele is a human rights lawyer and defender. He served as the Executive Director of the Africa division at Human Rights Watch and as Senior Advisor at Amnesty International. Prior to that he practiced law in Ethiopia, managed Action Aid Ethiopia's policy research and advocacy department, worked as a consultant, volunteered in various civil society initiatives, in academia and the private sector. He studied law and development studies at the University of Addis Ababa and University of Oxford, where he is currently working to complete a PhD program. He is also currently consulting with intergovernmental and international agencies including Pact.   

Note: Other speakers will be announced


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Join by calling in (US Only): +1 646 558 8656 Meeting ID: 875 707 364