DOI co-hosts seminar on federalism and decentralisation in the Horn of Africa

Scholars and practitioners from all over the Horn of Africa, South Africa and Europe came together in Addis Ababa on 2 December to discuss the role of federalism and decentralisation in the Horn of Africa.

The Horn of Africa is a tumulteous region comprising countries dealing with, or emerging from episodes of tension, civil strife or all-out civil war. Very often, forms of decentralisation and/or federalism are used in an effort to keep countries together in spite of internal divisions. This conference brought together experts on South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Eritrea and Ethiopia to discuss whether federalism and/or decentralisation is indeed a viable route to peace and development.

Prof Markakis delivered a key note address, challenging participants to consider whether federalism has failed to bring peace to the Horn of Africa.

Prof Nico Steytler (UWC) delivered a paper, emphasising the sharing of power at the centre as crucial for lasting peace.

Prof Assefa (AAU) discussed the state of federalism in Ethiopia, how crucial it has been to keep the country together but also how the system is under tremendous pressure to absorb the current tensions.

Prof Eva Maria Belser (Fribourg University) presented the case of Iraq, where the federal constitution failed to bring peace, in large part because the drafting process was woefully inadequate.

Dr Karl Kossler (EURAC) discussed how recent challenges prompted new manifestations of federalism.

Prof Yonatan Fessha (UWC) discussed various methods to ensure legitimacy for presidential systems that go beyond simple majoritarian politics.

Dr Lam, Prof Young and Dr Mengistu (Fribourg) discussed the intractable conflict in South Sudan and located it in the inadequacies in design and implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and South Sudan's Constitution.

Dr Nicholas Schmitt (FU) and Mr Ebrahim Harun (UCT) presented two papers on Somalia, arguing that federalism or perhaps even confederalism offers solutions for the various regions and groups in Somalia to share their country peacefully.

Dr Conrad Bosire (Katiba Institute) shared his perspectice on how implementing devolution in Kenya assisted the country in dealing with the trauma of the 2007/2008 post-election violence.

Dr Zemelak Ayele (AAU) presented the case of Eritrea and how a future Eritrea could benefit from arrangements to decentralise power.

The Conference is the product of a collaboration between the Dullah Omar Institute (UWC), the Centre for Federal Studies  (Addis Ababa University), the Institute of Federalism  (Fribourg University) and the Institute of Federal and Regional Studies (European Academy). It was supported by the South African Research Foundation and the Hans Seidell Foundation.