The National Alliance of Civilization forum was held in December 2017 in Hawassa city with a theme “Building peace values and values of coexistence with love and respect: opportunities and challenges”. The forum was organized by joint cooperation of the Ministry of Federal and Pastoralist Development Affairs (MoFPDA) and Justice for All-Prison Fellowship Ethiopia (JFA-PFE).
Participants of the forum came from the nine regions of Ethiopia representing Justice Sectors, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, Ministry of Youth and Sport Affairs, Religious Institutions, Elders, Universities, Business Sectors, Medias, Opposition Parties and more. Welcoming participants of the forum, Mrs. Hiwot Hailu, speaker of the regional Parliament of Southern Nations Nationalities and People Regional State expressed the importance of peace. “We cannot keep the rapid economic development and democratic rights of the people without peace, therefore we all have to work together to make sure nothing can break this” said Mrs. Hiwot stressing on the values of peace for Ethiopia.
Pastor Daniel Gebreselasie, President of JFA-PFE in his keynote address expressed the significance of developing culture of dialogue between the people and the ruling government. “We need to bring women and men, youth and elders, educated and farmers, business people, opposition parties and international communities, university lecturers and students, government leaders and civil societies to discuss and debate on ideas that will take the country to better and peaceful future” he said. “Dialogue brings sense of ownership and develops trust between people and the government” added Pastor Daniel. If people do not have sense of ownership and trust, then they will feel hopeless and violence and blood shed will be taken as a solution said Pastor Daniel expressing his fear. Therefore, concluding his message, the president announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Federal and Pastoralist Development Affairs so that such dialogues can continue to bring peace, love and respect over violence.
Corruption, land issues and human rights violations are also some of the concerns ambassador Andreas raised which in his opinion needs careful, effective and transparent handling to bring about a sustainable and inclusive solution
“Norway is and will remain a partner of Ethiopia” said Ambassador Andreas. “I have in many contexts termed this partnership a strategic partnership – based on friendship and common interests” he added concluding his message.
The two days forum was officially opened by Mr. Mulugeta Wuletaw, Minister D’état for Ministry of Federal and Pastoralist Development Affairs. In his speech Mr. Mulugeta expressed the main goal of the federal system is building one political community in which all nations, nationalities and peoples participate and benefit thereof through ensuring sustainable peace; speedy and equitable economic development, and democratic governance. “Throughout the years, we have achieved good results and at the same time faced numerous challenges. Therefore, identifying the root causes of the current problems through research studies and organizing these kinds of dialogue forums between the government and civil societies are important for solving the current conflicts” he stated.
On the two-day dialogue forum, papers on Interfaith Dialogue; FDRE Constitution and Peace Building Values; Federalism and Diversity for Peacebuilding; Traditional Conflict Resolution mechanisms, and Restorative Justice were presented. The paper presentations functioned as brainstorming and opened up forums for discussions.
Papers on values of respect and love between religious institutions and their followers, good opportunities, challenges and future plans was presented by Professor Berhanu Mengistu and Assistant Professor Ahmed Zecharia. H.E Ato Awoll Wogris State Minister, MoFPDA and Dr. Abate Getahun Wollo University President were moderators. Professor Berhanu in his presentation focused on inter-faith dialogue.
Following, Professor Awetu Semeso, Professor at Addis Ababa University and member of the National Elders and Mrs. Ubah Mohammed, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission deputy commissioner presented on FDRE Constitution and Peace Building Values, opportunities, challenges and future plan.
Dr. Fesseha Assefa, Associate Professor at AAU presented on Federalism, Diversity and Peacebuilding: Opportunities and Challenges. Professor Tessema Zerihun, moderated these presentations.
At the end a paper entitled “embracing Traditional Conflict Resolution mechanisms: Dialogue as a Pathway for Understanding” by Dr. Ambaye Ogato and “Restorative Justice” by Ato. Garedew Assefa was presented. Dr. Ambaye gave his view of peacebuilding and why traditional conflict resolution mechanisms are desirable. He expressed the concept from Sidama people’s view of truth. Dialogue is at the core of Sidama conflict resolution, they seek truth by talking and listening, reflecting on differences he said. Following Ato Garedew siad trust is what keeps the society together. From trust, he said, peace can come out.
Ato Mulugeta Wuletaw, Deputy Minister of MoFA reflecting on the overall discussed topics of the forum said Ethiopia is under political crises and need political solution. If this crises is not politically solved, it will lead to economic crises. Ethiopian scholars are sufficient enough to correct us from our wrongs. We have weaknesses; we admit, and we need support of all stakeholders: scholars, faith based institutions, elders and different interest groups. If we don’t listen to each other, we cannot solve the current problem. The government should listen to different views of the general public. We need to respect each other – the government its people and the people their government he added.
Finally, at the end of the two-day dialogue forum, the representatives of the federal and regional governments together passed resolutions which seemed to be based on the problems discussed.
United Nations Alliance of Civilization aims to improve understanding and cooperative relations among nations and peoples across cultures and religions, and to help counter the forces that fuel polarization and extremism. It helps to develop more inclusive societies, in which diversity is experienced as an asset. Ethiopia is a member since January 8, 2009.