Source: Europa World , 24 March 2006
Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, set out a strategy this week for peace, security and development in the Horn of Africa. The Commissioner was attending the 11th summit of IGAD Heads of State and Government in Nairobi. IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, is a grouping of seven countries (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda).
The new strategy will focus, in particular, on regional governance, natural resources management, food security, border control and non-proliferation of small arms.
Around 180 million people live in the Horn of Africa, a region affected by a chronic cycle of poverty and instability. Commissioner Michel proposed to the IGAD leaders a regional pact, building on mutual interdependency, that could serve as a catalyst for bringing peace, security and development to the Horn,. The strategy builds on the actions taken by the IGAD and the Nile Basin Initiative. It faces challenges common to all the countries of the region such as governance, conflict prevention, religious fundamentalism, nomadic pastoralism, food security, trafficking and resource sharing.
Commissioner Michel suggested that the IGAD Heads of State create concrete achievements which would, de facto, generate greater solidarity in the region, as the European Union had experienced itself. "The history of the EU can be a source of inspiration for the region. The EU has thrived and flourished because it has overcome long-standing rivalries and hatred. Nowadays, your regional political forum, IGAD, has become a central part of the political and security architecture of the Horn of Africa. It needs to be utilised to its full potential. But this requires genuine political will and commitment."
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement on Sudan and the consolidation of the Transitional Federal Institutions in Somalia are already major breakthroughs in achieving peace in the Horn, although these processes remain fragile.
Among the concrete initiatives worth expanding, Commissioner Michel identified food security and desertification as a major challenge, as the region faces a new cycle of drought and famine. Border control should also be a focus area, as most borders in the region are permeable and illicit trafficking remains a concern. Another key cross border issue to address in this region is the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.
In the field of peace and security, the establishment of the Eastern African Standby military brigade (EASBRIG) as part of the African Standby force is a welcome development in building African capacities in deployment of military peacekeeping and monitoring operations. The European Commission envisages supporting this initiative should it become fully operational.
The Nile Basin initiative is also a good basis for regional cooperation on natural resources, more specifically, by focusing on the sharing of the waters of the Nile Basin. The Water Facility already contributes for € 18 Million. Furthermore, the Commission is open to consider also the development of hydropower programmes in the Eastern Nile under the EU Infrastructure Partnership Fund contained in the EU Strategy for Africa approved last December by the European Council.
The mission of the Munich Security Conference is to “address the world’s most pressing security concerns”. These days, that means climate security: climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier, and anyone discussing food security, political instability, migration, or competition over resources should be aware of the climate change pressures that are so often at the root of security problems.
The European Green Deal has made the environment and climate change the focus of EU action. Indeed, climate change impacts are already increasing the pressure on states and societies; however, it is not yet clear how the EU can engage on climate security and environmental peacemaking. In this light, and in the run-up to the German EU Council Presidency, adelphi and its partners are organising a roundtable series on “Climate, environment, peace: Priorities for EU external action in the decade ahead”.
In January 2020, the German Federal Foreign Office launched Green Central Asia, a regional initiative on climate and security in Central Asia and Afghanistan. The aim of the initiative is to support a dialogue in the region on climate change and associated risks in order to foster regional integration between the six countries involved.
Climate change will shift key coordinates of foreign policy in the coming years and decades. Even now, climate policy is more than just environment policy; it has long since arrived at the centre of foreign policy. The German Foreign Office recently released a report on climate diplomacy recognizing the biggest challenges to security posed by climate change and highlighting fields of action for strengthening international climate diplomacy.