Peace building indispensable for sustainable development in Ethiopia
By Tesfaye Lemma
Tigrai Online, Ethiopian News, Nov. 25, 2016
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Many people question whether it is possible to ensure lasting peace in this wealth demanding world; where a lot of people need to accumulate wealth on others’ expenses; need power on the sacrifices of other people. They argued that it is impossible to bring lasting peace as human interests for wealth is boundless.
In fact, this has some grains of truth. Human beings have limitless. Situations all over the world witnessed there are various reasons aggravating instability and poisoning peace. However, it is possible to bring lasting peace to this world despite these aggravating situations we together can make realize lasting peace and maintain it. In some conflicting areas local people are the sole partners in building peace and stability. They have their own mechanisms to bring and maintain peace. Local peace builders are making a real difference in difficult and dangerous conflicts.
In case of Ethiopia, ensuring peace could be difficult unless efforts exerted to avoid confusions and misunderstandings. The confusion could be emanated from the propaganda of anti-peace groups who have been attempting to use religion and other sensitive issues to mislead the public. In fact, the participation of Ethiopians in the peace and security is so strong that many of the different attempts to destabilize the country were made hay.
There is an ever rising of public demand for stability and peace. Their contribution is both to policy formulation and implementation of activities related to peace building and conflict prevention. The participation will contribute to strengthening and promoting sustainable peace and security in the country. The Ethiopian people have been acting as the focal point for peace and security partnership since the coming of EPRDF in1991.
The struggle for sustainable peace in the country in fact has become volatile in those recent months in Ethiopia; where peace has become a serious challenge. One among many reasons for such volatility could be the wrong misinterpretation of religious disciplines. According to some historical documents, the misinterpretation of religion has become one of the causes of war that more than 80 per cent of the world conflicts emanated due to religion held against its discipline.
In those old days, the conflicts were between two religions. One religion may wage war against another. However, the current trend is quite different from the previous ones. Religions are now becoming pretexts for other hidden interests. Groups have been using religion as a cover to get as many followers for their hidden agendas. Such groups attempted to convince believers as if war is something holy and the will of the lord to win the hearts and minds of the religious people and persuade them to stand for their hidden agendas.
The reason why anti-peace groups prefer religion is the fact that religion is so sensitive that followers could pay any sacrifice whenever they feel there is danger to the religion. In fact, this kind of perception and action is contradictory to the need for peace and tolerance any religion considered them as its crucial pillars.
Despite what religion demands and preaches to followers, a number of wars took place and some of them have continued for years and caused the death of many people. The other major reason for escalated conflicts and tenterhooks could be the aggravating ceaseless coverage of a few local and international media. Where there is a conflict, there is media adding fuel to the fire. They usually give priority to cover disputes and conflicts; set their agendas to smell natural and manmade disasters.
The contribution of media in aggravating disputes is so dominant while the effort made for the thriving peace is insignificant. The information we browse, read, watch or listen contains little peace. Past experiences show that media has been creating sensation, persuading many people to join the dispute and develop more interest to conflicts. It lacks social responsibility, which is one of the duties of media.
It’s it failed to set its agendas to teach the importance of peace; failed to work for peace in collaboration with the peace loving people and its ignorance to one of its pillar responsibilities, peace advocacy. In a situation where the media failed to not only to set considering peace as one of its major agendas but also failed to work in collaboration with the people in enhancing peace, the public have less opportunity to realize the importance of peace.
The media has the responsibility of teaching the possibility of handling everything peacefully. The possibility of presenting any demand peacefully and get responses. However, the media failed to join the struggle to ensure peace and stability.
The recently occurred destabilizing attempts in some parts of Oromiya and Amhara regional States were aggravated due to such irresponsible coverage. In some cases, the media has become an instrument for some individuals or groups taking various measures poisoning peace for their personal gains.
The interests of politicians and other groups of different interest have been creating various peace poisoning activities. Peace challenges could be meaningfully reduced if the media work for peace as it has ample access to get information and to know ill-activities than any other organizations.
It is, therefore, so crucial for the media to make a fundamental change in its approach of reporting particularly in enhancing peace to the community. The media is not effective partner of realizing and maintaining and there is lack of alliance between the government, media and people. OLF and Ginbot Seven claimed that the recent destabilizing efforts have strong links with Al-Shabab and Muslim Brotherhood. These groups are identified terrorist groups.
It is possible to avoid all these anti-peace elements and practices if there is a real collaboration among all countries in the world supported by the media. The real commitment and cooperation among the media, politicians, religious and educational institutions for peace could change situations to the better.
It is obvious that unless there is a strong public participation, efforts to ensure peace might end up fruitless. In fact, the participation of the people in general and that of the youth, women and religious leaders in particular could play an indispensable role in bringing lasting peace in this country.
From the political perspective, many people argue that the government should maintain peace and order. The media is also another stakeholder for the revival of peace. It is the consolidated efforts of all parts that could realize peace and stability. In this regard, the people are the sole partners in the ensuring lasting peace.
Many scholars believe that the role of the public in realizing lasting peace is so indispensible. The bone of contention is how the people could learn to discharge its responsibility in maintaining peace and order. But the people could be reached through political parties, religions and the media. Bringing lasting peace therefore requires the cooperation of all these parts and that could be done under the auspice of governments.
It has become clear that proactive conflict prevention is more cost effective than reactive conflict prevention. Efforts made after a conflict has become violent to contain and reduce the intensity, duration and the possibility of geographic spill over. There is a growing perception that there are limits to the level of violence the country can permit. It is clear that sustainable development is impossible without sustainable peace building.
The people are the architect for the survival of peace. They could significantly contribute to more effective peace building if they are backed by the media. The participation of the public would not only help to identify and strengthen the peace building potential, but also to track and weaken the spoilers. Therefore, building sustainable peace is crucial to ensure sustainable development.