Ethiopia Peace Index at a time of global peace deterioration & as violence hits new all-time high

14 Jun

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin, The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

The Institute for Economics and Peace in its The 2016 Global Peace Index (GPI) defines peace as “the harmony achieved by the absence of violence or the fear of violence, which has been described as Negative Peace.”

In turn, Negative Peace is a term the authors of the report explain as “a compliment to Positive Peace which is defined as the attitudes, institutions and structures which create and sustain peaceful societies.” That has been the lens through which they have examined and reflected on the global problems of peace and security situation of 2015 in their 2016 report.

Global Peace Index [Click to magnify]

In underlining that violence is costing nations right at this moment 13.3 percent of world gross domestic product (GDP), GPI states its concern that our world is now witnessing “the largest yearly deterioration” of peace. This, it says, is on account of “the impact of terrorism and political instability.” In that regard, GPI observes:

“The historic ten-year deterioration in peace has largely been driven by the intensifying conflicts in the MENA [middle East and North Africa] region. Terrorism is also at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict are at a 25 year high, and the number of refugees and displaced people are at a level not seen in sixty years. Notably, the sources for these three dynamics are intertwined and driven by a small number of countries, demonstrating the global repercussions of breakdowns in peacefulness. Many countries are at record high levels of peacefulness, while the bottom 20 countries have progressively become much less peaceful, creating increased levels of inequality in global peace.”

While the quoted above statement on the ten-year deterioration of peace is true to a large measure, like similar perceptions in the past, it only speaks to troubles to peace that threaten the shores of Europe, their life styles and other interests of their communities. In other words, burdened by dictators heavy hands and mercurial whims, the troubles straining African nations and peoples, the hundreds and thousands of deaths each year and displacements are treated as peripheral issues.

Sadly and more particularly, ignoring its values and principles about freedom and human rights, the West is seen more keen about investments in African countries that are increasingly staining its name. And thus, because of this, the West in these past two decades is seen in Africa salivating for hefty profits, nothing more save profits. This is not being said to overlook the greed of others, especially the newfangled money hunters in Africa, such as the Chinese, the Arabs or the occasional Russian interests and those others that have not yet shaped collective identities of their own and are hard to categorize or name them as such.

The Global Peace Index’s this year’s declaration are the following, although not new at all:

    *   There exist mutual relations between peace, income (growth and development and reasonable access to opportunities to all) the level of regional integration; and,

    *   Peaceful nations enjoy transparency in governmental behavior and actions; these facilitate accountability, the rule of law, equality of citizens and diminished corruption


Source: GPI (Click to magnify]

On the 2016 GPI, Ethiopia is seen confronted with a number of problems; these have to do with the country’s state of peace and violence, which affects its stability; this poses a fundamental question whether the population enjoys a good sense of security.

The problems that have now defined Ethiopia happen to be a reflection of the degree to which the country enjoys its ability to devote its energies, policy attention and resources to development to alleviate the country’s profound poverty; what the indicators tell is that it has been adversely affected at the present time, impinging on the future.

At the same time, the analysts in their report show significant reductions globally in 2015 in the number of deaths from violent internal conflicts (one single indicator), for instance, in countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Chad, Ethiopia and Columbia.

Of the 23 GPI indicators, four are aggregated in total numbers, e.g., number of deaths, organized conflicts, displaced persons, etc. A number of measures are qualitative and quantitative, for instance, eight of them based on a qualitative scale – not measurable, thus aggregated from contrasted observations. On the other hand, for instance, terrorist activity is measured on a quantitative scale. This means that it can be put as data, facts and in numbers.

The remaining 11 indicators are self-explanatory, the combination of all of which has been used to reflect on the state of peace globally portraying in each of the 163 nations the state of peace and violence during 2015.

GPI INDICATORS [Click to magnify]

Ethiopia has been analyzed and its overall state has been ranked of 119th, in a league of 163 nations. Relative to the 2015 GPI report, Ethiopia remains at the 119th place, as its 2014 standing; its score shows slight improvement of 50 points, while the overall number of reviewed states has gone down by one.

In terms of its 2014/15 regional standing, Ethiopia only moved up to 27th position out of 44 Sub-Saharan nations. In 2016, its regional standing is 28th out of 44 nations, with Mauritius, Botswana, Madagascar and Sierra Leone leading the pack from the top, as Burundi, Nigeria, DR Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia and South Sudan follow from the rear.

Globally, Iceland, Denmark, Austria and New Zealand lead from the top, while Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan and Syria tail from the other end of the list.

In this GPI, the threat level nations face are graded from 1-5. For instance, Ethiopia has scored above 3 out of five nine times on the 23 indicators. The higher the score the more increased is the threat level and signaling possibility of instability.

Among others, the key areas that are considered in Ethiopia’s situation include: access to weapons (4/5), political instability (3.3/5), political terror (3.5/5), internal conflicts fought (3.3/5), violent demonstrations (3.0/5), intensity of internal conflicts (3.0/5), neighboring countries relations (3.0/5), perceptions of criminality (3.0/5), homicide (3.5/5), and etc.

Accordingly, it comes as no surprise that, while its color code yellow signals, its being in the middle on the scale, its borderline scores on the ‘combined major factors’ of society and security on one hand (2.6/5) and domestic and international conflict (2.5/5) point to its peace being on balance.

An attempt is made here to put some of the Ethiopia indicators contextually and see what they mean in the following paragraphs, especially as the country has scored nine times above 3/5, twice about 2.5/5 and above:

    *   Access to weapons, on which the country has scored a threat level of 4 out of 5, speak of Ethiopians having broader access to weapons, because of which the country is seen in serious problem. The authors of GPI define this indicator as vista for small arms and light weapons accessibility to whoever needs them.

    *   Ethiopia has scored 3.5 out of 5 in political terror. In an everyday definition, this comes as the use of violence or the threat of violence especially against civilians in pursuit of political goals. In the 2015 US State Department country report on terrorism, the Ethiopia section refers to “The continuing threat of al-Shabaab emanating from Somalia”, as it details defense and legislative measures taken in this regard.

    That report highlights the preparations made to “counter violent extremism.” Be that as it may, on The Political Terror Scale, the last one being the 2014 report, Ethiopia has received a score of 3 from the State Department, 4 by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI), the average of which cannot be contested being higher than average.

    *   Perceptions of criminality 3.0, reflecting the level of ‘criminality in society’ is strong indicator. Recall that in the annual United States Department of State Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) in its 2016 Crime and Safety Report of Ethiopia rated Ethiopia’s crime rate high. In the 2015 report, all the same, the crime was high, while in 2014 it was considered as mere opportunistic and thus not rated at all. The perception now on the GPI is much stronger.

    *   Homicide, a 3.5 out of 5 score on this scale is high. In Ethiopia’s case, this refers to intentional homicide. The last available the World Health Organization (WHO) report is from 2012, showing that homicide in Ethiopia was 8 per 100,000 population. What should be concerning is that this has since notched up, with its perception faster.

    *   Intensity of conflict. The EU’s qualitative assessment pertaining to the internal situation has been applied here. It has also found place in the attention of other institutions and organizations. Global experts mainly focus on low intensity conflicts (LIC) and the role of the security forces in them. Given the various armed groups in Ethiopia, aspiring to air their grievances or to overthrow the TPLF regime, these have been going on for a long time with their intensity increasing of late.

    *   Violent demonstrations. Interestingly, using qualitative assessment GPI has concluded that the “likelihood of violent demonstrations within the country” is as high as above average, given Ethiopia’s score of 3/5.



It does not mean that GPI in this report has proved itself an eagle. There are things it has not and could not see. That is why I would seize this opportunity to encourage it to improve its collection and use of data on the 23 indicators it has employed for the current report.

Ethiopia as one of the high population countries, GPI could have, for instance, touched upon the 2014/2015 massacre of university students in Oromia region of Ethiopia, whose protests and rebellion have since the last part of 2016 characterized the political environment in the country.

It troubles me that GPI should fail to realize that, when a state power takes decision – because of its political and bad governance problems – to massacre young high school and university students in broad daylight and torture those it has imprisoned for marching and protesting peacefully, surely the society is being turned incendiary from that point on and something is wrong. It does not matter whether it goes off today or tomorrow; but it surely would go off in its own time and there would be no turning back.

The TPLF regime, i.e., those ordering the killings have now presided over the inquiry and now admits killing only 270 citizens (173 Oromos and 97 Amharas) and injuring 781 (695 in Oromia and 86 in Amhara), with no accountability. The mockery of justice and inquiry is that the TPLF regime claims in its report that its security forces have exercised an inordinate level of restraint. We know that they are trying to protect themselves from future prosecutions for crimes against humanity.

Part Two of that conflict between the state and a community representing the largest population in the country got rekindled in November 2015 in protest against continuing land grab, ethnic discrimination and bad governance.

In a country of 102.0 million population (UNFP), this impunity, as cause for troubles of the nation endangering peace, could not capture the attention of GPI analysts. Therefore, the 2016 report has not factored in this in its Ethiopia section.

While the depth of the anger and its magnitude, commonly referred to as the #OromoProtests, has been lessened for now but not contained. Deaths and torture are still continuing, students seizing every opportunity to protest and having refused to be in class in many parts of the country; therefore, this problem of an obstinate dictatorial regime is being matched by the resolve of the oppressed to find their own delivery. This would continue to rock the broader society, if not totally endanger the seeming stability the regime sees as its achievement, but not the repression of society.

The TPLF regime mistakes this present lull for successful silencing and defeat of its challengers, because of which it is now back again to its bravado. The same is true in Amhara region, more particularly Gondar, rising on the same question of land grab by the TPLF, changing people’s identities without their consent.

What is being said about Oromia and Gondar is also true for Ethiopian populations in Gambella, Afar and SNNPR and the Somali region. While the spike in restlessness in Ethiopia in that respect is correct, as noticed by GPI, its analysts have a huge task before the of improving the quality and depth of the index. It is only then they would be able to harvest the merits of international appreciation and recognition.

What this takes is slight adjustment on the lenses of GPI analysts to recognize that the peace of the northern hemisphere could be shriveled by troubles, such as the above, ignored in the south.

Jumping to put out the fire once it has started is not the best strategy of going about it; nor unjust methods such as bankrolling and buttressing dictators effective.

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