The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is primarily a regional mechanism for the prevention and resolution of conflicts among eight member states: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.
The Ethiopia-Eritrea peace deal offers an opportunity for IGAD to support the strengthening of relations between other member states. Apart from its security mandate, IGAD as a Regional Economic Community (REC) is responsible for pursuing economic integration and development as a major tool of conflict prevention and a foundation for long-lasting peace.
It is significant to add that with the peculiarity of its location as an arid region, countries in the Horn of Africa have had to contend with contentious issues over water use, pastoralism and access to grazing land, to name a few.
There is considerable overlap between the memberships of IGAD and the East African Community (EAC), which comprises six countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
The EAC is miles ahead in terms of achieving economic integration among its member states. This creates an attractive and potentially beneficial opportunity for countries in the Horn to access its larger market. The region can also learn lessons from its neighbour in achieving economic and political integration beyond peace and security-related issues.
However, challenges in achieving inclusive forms of governance continue to act as major triggers of conflict in the Horn. When substantial groups are excluded from access to political spaces or a share of economic resources, these frustrations erupt as social tensions or increased criminal activities such as terrorism and trafficking of people and arms.
Inclusivity – through dialogue, fair elections, and a respect for human rights – enables better utilisation of resources and results in economic opportunities for the youth to be absorbed into society.
Efforts channelled towards improving access to socio-economic opportunities and promoting dialogue between and among different actors and constituencies have the potential to lessen tensions in the Horn.
AMISOM to start withdrawal
The withdrawal of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is due to be completed by December 2020. In its years of existence, the mission has played a major role in stabilising Somalia, even if it frequently experienced setbacks in the fight against al-Shabaab.
There are genuine concerns that the winding down may not be smooth sailing, but it should still offer countries in the Horn of Africa an opportunity to carefully manage the aftermath if potential threats to security are to be eliminated or significantly reduced.
Along with IGAD member states, the AU and UN would have to ensure that the withdrawal process is not rushed and that Somalia is not left worse off than before. If not quickly claimed and managed by legitimate and robust state institutions, a poorly managed withdrawal could create an even more dangerous gap. Without imposing their own whims, multilateral partners must work with troop-contributing countries within and outside the region to manage this process and its outcomes.