Political Economy of Peace and Violence

29 Oct 2016
5498 times

In a popular parlance, peace is defined as the absence of war. For instance, Johan Galtung defines peace as an absence of violence. He further defines violence as an insult to human needs (Galtung 1990).

Abraham Maslow recognizes two levels of human needs and labels them as tangible and intangible. Maslow writes of a pyramid of human needs whose bases comprise basic human needs like food, water, air. He mentions them as absolute physical requirements. Once these needs are met, he argues that the next set of needs in the hierarchy of needs comes security (Maslow, 1943). He notes that there are a series of intangible human needs which may include love, sense of belongingness, mental self development and many others. Maslow asserts that self actualization is the highest peak in the pyramid of our stages of needs.

The need for peace is therefore concomitant with our quest for security and stable life devoid of violence.  In this context the absence of violence may not adequately explain what peace is.

In the last 25 years, except for the war with Eretria, the nation was not engaged in what is called a war. In terms of national peace and security that past two and half decades can be considered as peaceful.

The Ethiopian government and the peoples in the country have exploited the peaceful situation by ensuring a double digit economic growth. Progress in the areas of infrastructure, building eco friendly power grid, meeting the MDG standards in terms of education and health and other related areas could not have happened if it had not been for the prevalence of peace. Had it not been for peace that prevailed in the country over the last 25 years, Ethiopia could not have managed to reduce national poverty level to 20%.

This however does not mean that there were no conflicts at all. Sporadic conflicts on district borders, pastureland and water have indeed occurred. Even then, local elders and the government have time and again used traditional and modern conflict resolution mechanisms to address the problem.

In many countries, unmet development needs, lack of good governance, lack of equity in resource sharing, miscarriage of justice has periodically resulted in mass protests and violence. The Ethiopian government and the ruling party had admitted that major pitfalls in governance, selfish public service officials, those engaged in rent seeking have contributed to the escalation of public rage, unrest and violence on the ground that their legitimate demands have not been met.

Others, who gave themselves the right to fish in turbulent waters, thinking that it is high time to derail the country from its path of progress by destroying the socio-economic fabric of the nation, deliberately targeted the entire people.

Peace was at stake not simply because those who dread peace traveled in their own Trojan horse to burn down the country into ashes. They categorically acted against the peoples of Ethiopia and dictate their interest with whatever means available to them.

They tried to disrupt the harvest season of farmers and interrupted normal transport to chock the economic activity of the country. Their boundless disrespect for their own kith and kin and their country as well.

The recent damage conducted on public and private property deliberately focused on key production and service delivering enterprises and buildings that housed local administration. The problem tree analysis of the incidents indicates that the violent situations affected the livelihood chain. Employees who are responsible for an average family size of five children lost their employment while their employees became bankrupt all of a sudden. Production and services are halted. In enterprises like lodges and hotels, the ecosystem in the environs of these recreation centers was disrupted.

All the more, the socio-psychological damage and trauma on the residents living in the areas where the violence was occurred have undergone cannot be measured in terms of money. Some of it may not be restored in the short run. Ethiopians who are used to peaceful life to eke their living from their own labor need to be rehabilitated not only in terms of finance but also in their mental makeup.

The government is working towards fostering accountability and peace building and conflict prevention through community participation. Under the situation of poverty and destitution, people are likely to get into loggerheads which could result in open conflict whereby peace will be threatened.

Peace with its diverse manifestations is a critical precondition for the development of any country.

The government is already busy in restoring peace. The next most important area is rehabilitating those enterprises and investment firms that need to kick start their production activities.  Potential investors who are getting ready to start investments in the country need to be encouraged to continue their investment activities without harboring any level of doubt.

A strategy towards upgrading the tourism industry in the country can be used to lure more tourists in the country.

In Ethiopia, peace is already on track but the usual propaganda ploy by some media outlets and negative reporting by HRW has continued unabated. Anti- Ethiopia forces are also upturning every stone at their disposal towards their efforts to balkanize Ethiopia.

Those forces who wished to disrupt the political order in the country thought that this is their time to derail Ethiopia from its efforts towards a single socio-political entity, a day dream which could never materialize.


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