Pax Ethiopiana: Ethiopia at Peace through Dialogue and Her Enemies in Pieces (Part II)

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Pax Ethiopiana (Ethiopian Peace): Creating and cultivating an enduring homegrown culture of peace in Ethiopia

Ethiopians must reject Pax Americana in Ethiopia and develop their own homegrown “Pax Ethiopiana” (Ethiopian Peace)

Pax Ethiopiana begins with full consideration of Ethiopia’s long-standing and underappreciated culture of peace. The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have laid out the basic principles in building a culture of peace.

UNESCO promotes a culture of peace which addresses the root causes of conflict “through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations.”

A culture of peace requires creation and propagation of a “set of values, attitudes, modes of behaviors and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals groups and nations.”

The Constitution of UNESCO declares, “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”

Peace must also begin the minds of men as it is the un-peaceful mind that is often the source of conflict and strife. Ethiopians have always been about the three P’s: PEACE, PROSPERITY and PROGRESS!

Unfortunately, over the past five decades, Ethiopia has been racked by cross border conflict, internal strife, and terrorism.

Border wars with Somalia and Eritrea, internecine conflict driven ethnic elites and terrorism by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and its henchmen have undermined Ethiopia’s stability and prosperity. It is now time to make history. Ethiopian history!

Peace Through Law: Proclamation 1265/2014 (Amharic), “Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission”

On December 29, 2021, the House of People’s Representatives enacted Proclamation 1265/2014. (Ethiopian National Dialogue Commission)

(The discussion of the Proclamation is based on the author’s Amharic translation. Mea Culpa)

It is a Proclamation that aspires to achieve maximum public accountability, transparency, and institutional independence in the pursuit of Ethiopian peace through dialogue.

The Preamble to the Proclamation declares the Commission is established to help build national understanding and consensus by harmonizing the diversity of views and opinions in society and among political, civic, and other opinion leaders.

The Proclamation is intended to promote and sustain dialogue around fundamental national issues, build trust among competing stakeholders, facilitate close working relationships among diverse groups and resuscitate broken social values/principles.

The Proclamation prescribes the national dialogue to be led and coordinated by capable and independent individuals who will work to gain broad public legitimacy and acceptance for the Commission’s work through transparency and accountability.

Mission of the National Dialogue Commission

The mission of the Commission includes:

Identification and establishment of circumstances to conduct dialogue over issues, problems, and differences between and among different elements/segments of society;

Conducting competently and independently led inclusive national dialogue and develops an actionable consensus agenda;

Engaging in dialogue that could improve the relationship between the public and the government, address age-old issues and help develop a new political system that inspires public confidence;

Seeking ways for practical implementation of core dialogue ideas to promote confidence in the political process and strengthen democratic institutions;

Developing actionable recommendations to resolve current problems and facilitate social and political conditions for a durable peace;

Promoting dialogue that could lead to national understanding and lay the groundwork for the establishment of a political process with strong legitimacy.

Operating Principles of the Commission

The Proclamation sets 12 operating principles for the operation of the commission including inclusiveness (all voices must be heard), transparency (no hidden agendas), tolerance and respect (civility in dialogue), reasonableness/rationality (reasoned discussion), consensus building and practical implementation of ideas (aim for balanced views that attract a broad base and can gain wide acceptance), independence of operation (not aligned with any group or point of view but maintain impartial perspective), democracy (commitment to democratic principles), depth and breadth of agenda (create a forum for expression of diverse views and concerns), supremacy of rule of law (respect for the constitution and laws of the land), national interest (give primacy to protecting and defending Ethiopia’s national interest), use of indigenous knowledge (incorporate the wisdom, traditions and experiences of Ethiopia’s diversity), national unity (promote the country’s unity in its diversity) and sovereignty (no compromise on Ethiopia’s independence and political, social and economic integrity) and any other principles the Commission deems appropriate.

Responsibilities and tasks of the Commission

The Commission is tasked with several responsibilities including:

Conducting investigation, research and analysis of issues and concerns of national importance;

Organizing meetings and conferences and other forums to conduct dialogue at the federal and regional levels;

Developing policies and procedures to be used in conducting dialogue and securing the services of competent professionals that can facilitate the work of the commission;

Ensuring commissioners meet all criteria for membership and performance of their duties as established in the Proclamation,

Preparing reports and documentation on the dialogue proceedings, key ideas generated and making recommendations for implementation of ideas generated through the dialogue process.

Number of Commissioners and Appointment

There shall be 11 commissioners selected from a pool of candidates recommended by members of the public, political organizations, and civil society institutions. The House of People’s Representatives is required to make the first cut of candidates making sure it is gender balanced. The Speaker of the House shall discuss with competing political parties, civil society and religious institutions and recommends the final list of candidates and designates the Chief and Assistant Chief Commissioners to the House.

Criteria for Membership on Commission

The Proclamations list various membership eligibility criteria including Ethiopian citizenship, commitment to serve all Ethiopians equally, no political party affiliation, ability to contribute to national consensus-building, good moral character, no serious criminal record, competence to performs tasks and full-time commitment to the work of the commission.

Structure of the Commission

The administrative structure of the Commission consists of the Chief and Assistant Chief Commissioner, the Secretariat, committees, and staff. The Chief Commissioner shall lead the Commission’s work, set agenda, call and preside over meetings, report to the House, hire staff and manage the administration and prepare the budget.

Commission Meetings

The Commission is mandated to conduct regular meetings. An extraordinary (emergency) meeting may be called by a simple majority vote. The Commission’s is charged with reaching decision by consensus and in the absence of consensus by voting. The Chief Commissioner breaks tie votes.

Duration/Term of the Commission

The Commission has a set term of three years from the date of the Commission’s formal inauguration and may be extended at the discretion of the House of People’s Representatives.

Designated Activities of the Commission

The Proclamation mandates the Commission to undertaker a variety of activities in the performance of its work:

Establish committees and professional teams which will help develop ideas; undertake various research and investigation projects;

Study the outcomes of previous government and non-governmental efforts on dialogue and use beneficial practices and experiences in Commission’s dialogue process;

Examine differences in ideas between different segments of society on national issues by undertaking research and analysis;

Draft dialogue agendas and harmonize issues for dialogue across different segments of society;

Conduct federal and regional dialogues to maximize inclusive participation and develop genuine national consensus;

Facilitate public participation in national dialogue by establishing clear criteria and procedures;

Ensure and monitor the national dialogue is conducted based on clear standards and criteria.

Assign professionals who can maintain careful, complete, and accurate records of dialogue proceedings and synthesize and present them to the Commission;

Establish procedures for internal operation, set dialogue agendas and process for participation;

Prepare a document that identifies a national consensus-based dialogue agenda and ways of implementing and publicizing the agenda;

Assist government institutions in implementing ideas generated in the national dialogue in transparent and concrete ways; and

Establish procedures to monitor implementation of consensus ideas.

Commissioners’ Rights and Obligations

Commissioners are granted immunity from criminal prosecution except for serious offenses. They have the right to full participation in the Commission’s activities, access and obtain records necessary for the Commission’s work and engage in committee service.

The obligations of Commissioners include properly discharging their duties, full time service to the work of the Commission, avoiding conflict of interest, maintain confidentiality of the Commission’s work, and acting with independence, integrity, and dignity.

Removal and Replacement of Commissioners

A member of the Commission may resign voluntarily or be removed for health reasons, incompetence, major acts of unprofessionalism, unexcused absence for more than 10 days and defects in membership record at time of appointment. Replacement of commissioners shall be drawn from the original list of candidates. The speaker shall name the Chief and Assistant Chief Commissioner in the event of removal or resignation.

Secretariat

The Commission’s Secretariat shall examine details of dialogue agendas, administer the annual budget, examine Commission’s general report, establish branch offices, establish institutional process for tasks and activities, draft bylaws and maintain standards of professionalism for Commissioners.

Implementation of the Proclamation to date

On 26th of January 2022, the Ethiopian Parliament shortlisted 42 individuals out of the 632 people, nominated by the public to be members of the National Dialogue Commission. It is expected that the Speaker of the House will conduct discussion on the candidates with political parties, civic and religious institutions, and others to solicit comments.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Editor’s Note: The views entertained in this article do not necessarily reflect the stance of The

BY ALMARIAM

THURSDAY 17 FEBRUARY 2022

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