Conflict Management and Resolution in the SNNPRS (Ethiopia). The Role of Council of Nationalities As Panacea?

Master's Thesis, 2012

84 Pages, Grade: 3.50


Table of Contents


Abbreviations and Acronyms


Chapter One
1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objectives
1.3.1 General Objective
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Scope of the study
1.6 Significance of the Study
1.7 Limitation of the Study
1.8 Methodology and Methods of the Study
1.8.1 Data Sources Document Review Key Informant Interview
1.8.2 Data Analysis
1.8.3 Ethical Considerations
1.8.4 Organization of the Study

Chapter Two: Theoretical and Conceptual Framework
2.1 Theoretical Framework
2.1.1 Major Theories of Conflict Identity Theory Structural Conflict Theory Community Relations Theory
2.2 Conceptual Framework
2.2.1 Understanding Conflict
2.2.2 Dispute Settlement Conflict Management Conflict Resolution
2.2.3 Ethnicity, Federalism and Conflict Understanding of Ethnicity, Nation and Nationality Understanding Ethnic Conflict Mechanisms of Managing and Resolving Ethnic Conflict
2.4 Federalism and Conflict
2.4.1 The Meaning of Federalism
2.4.2 Federalism and Federation
2.4.3 Conflict Resolution Mechanisms in Federal System(s)

Chapter Three: An Overview of the Historical Development of the Ethiopian Federal System
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The Rational of Ethnic Based Federal System in Ethiopia
3.2.1 Ethnic Federalism in Ethiopia’s Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State
3.3 Trends of Conflict Management in Federal Ethiopia
3.3.1 Conflict Management and Resolution Mechanisms in Federal Ethiopia Traditional Conflict Resolution Mechanism in Federal Ethiopia Formal Conflict Management and Resolution Mechanisms in Ethiopia
3.4 Institutional Structure of HoF and CoN (SNNPRS) and their Similarities and Differences in terms of Constitutional Set up and Principles
3.4.1 The Similarity between the House of Federation and Council of Nationalities in terms of Selection and Representation
3.4.2 The Difference between the House of Federation and Council of Nationalities in terms of Representation and their Function

Chapter Four: The Role of Council of Nationalities in Managing and Resolving Conflicts in the SNNPRS
4.1 Mandates of the Council of Nationalities
4.2 Conflicts in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State: An overview
4.2.1 Border Conflict in the SNNPRS
4.2.2 Identity Conflicts in the SNNPRS
4.2.3 Question of Self Administration and Conflicts in the SNNPRS
4.2.4 Conflict over Natural Resource in the SNNPRS
4.3 Conflict Management and Resolution Strategies of the Council of Nationalities
4.3.1 Making all Rounded Participation on Conflict Resolving Activities
4.3.2 Extending Peace Education
4.3.3 Reducing Damage and Creating a Suitable Information Net Work for Conflict Resolution Activities
4.4 Intervention of Council of Nationalities in Conflict Ridden Areas of the SNNPRS
4.4.1 The Role of the CoN in Deploying Security force while Violent Conflict emerged in the SNNPRS
4.5 Challenges and Prospects of Council of Nationalities in Discharging Its Constitutional Duties
4.5.1 Challenges of the Council of Nationalities (SNNPRS) Lack of Good Governance in the SNNPRS Financial Constraints and Shortage of Skilled Man Power Absence of Systematic Strategy to Deal and Handle Cases Entered to CoN Unlawful Horizontal and Vertical Intervention in Handling Conflicts
4.5.2 Prospects of the Council of Nationalities Working with Different Stakeholder Cooperatively Preparing Strategy of Conflict Resolution (SRC) and Conflict Analysis Reader of the SNNPRS
4.6 Analysis of Some Entertained Cases by the Council of Nationalities
4.6.1 An Overview of Zeise and Derashe Conflict The Role of the Council of Nationalities in Handling Zeise and Derashe Case The Strength of CoN during the Dispute Settlement Process of Zeise and Derashe Weakness of Council of Nationalities in the Zeise and Derashe Dispute Settlement and Reconciliation Process
4.6.2. An Overview of Guji and Sidama Conflict The Role of the CoN in Managing and Resolving the Guji-Sidama Conflict The Strength of the CoN in the Guji and Sidama Dispute Settlement Process The Weakness of the CoN during the Dispute Resolution Process of the Guji and Sidama

Chapter Five: Conclusion and Recommendation
5.1 Recommendations


Appendex 1: lists of key informants

Appendix 2: Guiding Questions


First and for most, I would like to express my heart-felt respect and deepest gratitude to my resourceful and patient advisor Asnake Kefale(PhD) for his scholarly advice, help, painstaking correction, guidance and comments. This thesis would not have been completed on time without his tireless effort. I am also grateful to Bedaso Kinso, Zeleke Belayneh and Yigzaw for their assistance in facilitating contact with informants. My sincere appreciation goes to those organizations and individuals who volunteered to share me their opinion on the presumably politically sensitive issues. I am also grateful to all my colleagues who assisted me in one way or the other. Just to name a few- Bewketu Dires, Yared Debebe and Tewolgn Moges, thank you for your assistance in improving my thesis.

Last but not least, my sincere appreciation goes to Dilla University that financed my entire MA programme.

Abbreviations and Acronyms

AAPO All Amhara People’s Organization

ANDM Amhara National Democratic Movement

CoN Council of Nationalities

EDU Ethiopia Democratic Union

EPDM pan- Ethiopian Democratic Front Movement

EPLF Eritrean People Liberation Front

EPRDF Ethiopian People Revolutionary Democratic Front

EPRP Ethiopian People Revolutionary Party

ESM Ethiopian Student Movement

FDRE Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

HoF House of Federation

MEISON Ethiopia Socialist Movement

MoFA Ministry of Federal Affairs

NGO Non Government Organization

NNP Nations, Nationalities and Peoples

OLF Oromo Liberation Front

SCR Strategies of Conflict Resolution

SEPDF Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Front

SNNPRS Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State

TPLF Tigrean People Liberation Front

UEDF United Ethiopian Democratic Forces


After the collapse of the Derg regime in 1991, Ethiopia adopted, its first Federal Democratic Constitution in 1995. Since then, Ethiopia is declared as a federal state encompassing various ethno-linguistic groups. Accordingly, the federation has comprised nine regional states and two city administrations. One of the members of the federation is the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Regional State. The Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region witnessed inter ethnic disputes such as identity, border and resource conflicts that caused unnecessary consequence. In the 2001constitution adopted by the Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region, the Council of Nationalities was institutionalized with number of constitutional mandates of which dispute management and resolution is the prominent one. It is in light of this power that the study pertaining to ‘Conflict management and resolution in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region: The Council of Nationalities as a panacea?’ aimed at examining how the Council fulfills this constitutional mandate. For the accomplishment of the objective of the study, largely secondary data and primary data obtained through unstructured interviews were used. In doing so, some cases entertained by the Council of Nationalities were analyzed. The Council of Nationalities entertained a number of inter ethnic conflicts and resolved them accordingly. With regard to this, the Council of Nationalities engaged in numerous inter-ethnics conflict resolutions submitted to it by the respective contending ethnic groups. The conflicts have been managed and resolved mainly through deploying security force and round the table discussion in collaboration with indigenous conflict resolution institutions. But when we see its achievement in discharging its mandate properly, delays to make decision timely, late to intervene in conflicts, and absence of early warning system to provide information timely are some among the failures of CoN. Therefore, though there are some achievements in rendering peace education in some parts of the region, the Council Nationalities has deficiencies in discharging its duties; conflict management and resolution aspects of its responsibilities in particular.

Chapter One

1.1 Background of the Study

The course of Ethiopia’s political history has been shaped to a significant extent by the country’s ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity, though there was no any mechanism of accommodating these diversities before the introduction of the 1995 constitution. Although it is a home to diverse ethnic groups, the Ethiopian state did not incorporate these groups into the political process and many thought that there was “National Oppression”, the state serving only part of the community (Assefa, 2007).

The quest for self determination and social justice raised in the 1960s and 1970s were particularly crucial and still has repercussions on the present state structure and the ideology behind it. It was the Ethiopian Student Movement (ESM) which organized to protest against the imperial regime of Haile Selassie. Frustration by the stagnated economy and inability to bring any change was the preceding factors that led young, radical and leftist university students to organize themselves both at home and abroad to overthrow the Regime. The ESM was mainly a multinational force whose members were drawn from different ethnic and religious groups. The slogans “Land to the Tiller”, “National Equality”, and “Social Justice” were very popular in their struggle against the imperial regime. On top of that, the major political parties including those in power as well as in exile claim their origin to this particular moment in history (Bahru, 2001).

MEISON since 1968 and EPRP since 1972 that dominated the country’s politics in the early days of the Ethiopian Revolution were the direct derivation of the ESM. With the exception of EDU, almost all of the Ethiopian opposition forces derived their origin and inspiration from the Student Movement. The central premises of many of the ethno-nationalist movements that emerged out of the ESM was Ethiopia constituted a “Prison of Nationalities” (Assefa, 2008).

There were supporters of the nation-building thesis such as the EDU. The motto of these forces is ‘One Ethiopia’. They also consider themselves as genuine representatives of the indivisible Ethiopian ‘nation’. The proponents of the nation-building thesis regard the argument for the recognition of rights of hitherto marginalized ethnic groups as un-patriotic and un-Ethiopian. In the current politics of Ethiopia, the organized representatives of nation-building perspective are Moa Anbessa and All Amhara People’s Organization (AAPO). They are also depicted as pro-monarchist by those who consider themselves “progressives” (Merera, 2006).

The second category of the political groupings, mainly MEISON and EPRP, that in principle acknowledged the existence of “National Oppression” but whose dominant orientation was towards unity saw the struggle of the oppressed people as indivisible and sought a solution within class rather than along national lines. The EPRP held that a new and democratic Ethiopia could only be constructed through the voluntary and consensual association of its part. It is important to mention that apart from sharing the view that the nationality question needs to be addressed, the exact meaning and scope of this vague clause was never clear (Vaughan, 2006).

Meanwhile, the military that controlled the state, added a fuel to the flames by effectively exploiting the squabbles within the civilian left and contributed to their fragmentation and failure. In the end, when the multinational parties fall into crisis partly due to internal problems and partly because the Derg annihilated them in turns, the national liberation movements emerged as the only viable forces to challenge the Derg. All the ethno-nationalist movements preferred to define their struggle on the basis of “Nationality” than class (Merera, 2002). These include, among others, the EPLF, TPLF and OLF, which emerged as the dominant political forces particularly in the post 1991 Derg period (Assefa, 2007).

Ethiopia has formulated democratic constitution since 1995. With the introduction of the 1995 constitution, a new form of state structure and government has been introduced into the Ethiopian constitutional system (FDRE Constitution, 1995, Article 1). The very first article of the constitution stipulates the establishment of a federal state structure. The drafters of the constitution judged that the ethnic discrimination of the different Ethiopian regimes risked being a cause of permanent dispute within the Ethiopian state (Eva and Beken, 2008). As a result, by marking a complete break from a unitary and centralist past Ethiopia dared to experiment with a multi-ethnic federation. The federation that was born out of the question of ethno-national groups’ right to self determination and cultural justice manifested a number of unique features (Tsegaye, 2008).

According to Article 52 (1) of the FDRE constitution, constituent regional state of the federation have the power to establish a state administration that best advance the rights of ethnic groups to self governance; and promote a democratic order based on the rule of law; to protect and defend the regional constitution; to enact and execute the state constitution and other laws; to formulate and execute economic, social and development policies and strategies and plans of the state, so on.

As Tsegaye (2008) clearly noted; The purposes of state constitutions are to govern state behavior in the states by regulating the relationship between the various organs and “levels” of state government, guaranteeing human rights of citizens, and determining the powers and responsibilities of the state organs. In Ethiopia, the state constitutions can also be viewed to have been made in order to consolidate and solidify the nations, nationalities, and peoples of the states; ensures self-rule; embody and express the collective goals and aspirations of state citizens; reaffirm the sovereignty of nations, nationalities, and peoples residing in states; reaffirm the state powers that are stipulated as “reserved” for states in the federal constitutions; establish sub-state level of governance and to determine the powers of all the three organs of the sub-state level governments, the newly created institutions such as the Council of Nationalities of the SNNPRS.

The Council of Nationalities, which is one among the two legislative organs of the SNNPRS government, is composed of representative of the Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ and one additional representative for each millions of its population (The SNNPRS,2001, Revised Constitution, Article, 58). The constitution asserts that the diverse nature of culture, languages, and interests of hosted ethnic groups in the region have necessitated the establishment of an institutional structure that could reflect the existing pluralism. As Fisher (2000) rightly pointed out, the basic challenge faced by many multi-ethnic societies is the accommodation of such diversity. The Council of Nationalities is, therefore, instituted to accommodate the diverse ethno-linguistic communities of the SNNPRS.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Disagreements and misunderstandings are the key characteristics of human relationships whether the relationship is domestic, national or international one. The potential for dispute is even higher where the parties are from different cultural, social and political background (Alemayehu, 2009). Bolaji (2001) also stated that as there are diversities in the various facets of the society’s life, the potential for conflict is greater under such circumstances. The fact that ethnic conflict cannot be resolved by force calls for an institution which deals with them systematically.

Conflicts are common both in the pre-and post- federal Ethiopia, basing on different sources. Tsegaye (2008) noted that the rationale behind the establishment of a federal form of state structure since 1991 is to address the past questions of nationalities which have been causes for conflicts. As indicated earlier, in an effort to manage and resolve conflicts, Article 52 (1) of the FDRE constitution, granted the constituent regional states to establish a state administration that best advance the rights of ethnic communities to self- government, democratic order and peace building based on the rule of law.

In the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Regional State, which is composed of diverse ethnic and linguistic groups, the issue of accommodating diversities is more crucial than in the other member regional states of the federation. Accordingly, the 2001 Revised Constitution of the SNNPRS, created various institutions that can strengthen and promote the democratic unity of the region’s peoples, manage and resolve conflicts. The Council of Nationalities, the executive body and the judiciary organs in all the hierarchies of the Regional government’s administration, according to their nature are supposed to have a role in managing and resolving conflicts.

The Council of Nationalities is responsible to accommodate the interests of the constituent ethnic groups of the region. Accordingly, the task of managing and resolving conflicts that would emerge between or among ethnic groups is one of the big responsibilities of the Council. But what is challenging to the Council of Nationalities in relation to conflict management and resolution is the absence of well structured institutional mechanisms that could resolve conflicts in a manner that maintains the cohesion and stability of the conflicting parties. As a result, most of the conflicts in the SNNPRS have been transformed in to violence because of ineffective involvements of the Council.

1.3 Objectives

The study has both general and specific objectives. Accordingly, both the general and specific objectives of the study are mentioned below:

1.3.1 General Objective

The overall objective of the study is to assess the role of the Council of Nationalities in managing and resolving conflicts that emerge in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State.

1.3.2 Specific Objectives

The specific objectives of the study are:

- To find out the strategies that the CoN employs for the management and resolution of disputes that occur in the Regional State.
- To identify the challenges and prospects of the CoN in managing and resolving conflict that emerges in the SNNPRS.
- To examine the interventions of CoN in managing and resolving conflict that emerges between member nations and nationalities of the Region.

1.4 Research Questions

1. What are the potential and actual challenges and opportunities for the CoN to manage and resolve conflicts?
2. What were the strategies used by the CoN to manage and resolve conflicts in the Region?
3. What kinds of intervention mechanisms does the CoN employ to manage and resolve conflicts in the Regional State?

1.5 Scope of the study

It is clear that the Council Nationalities has enormous powers and functions which are outlined by the 2001 revised constitution of Southern Nations, Nationalities People’s Regional State. Accordingly, dealing with all these powers of the Council of Nationalities in the study is unthinkable due to several limitations. Thus, to conduct the study appropriately, it is necessary to limit the scope of the study to a manageable size. For this reason, the study has tried to assess how the Council of Nationalities fulfills its mandates of managing and resolving disputes in the SNNPRS.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Even if the study is not meant to develop strategies and mechanism to fight violent nature of conflicts, it could have the advantage of pointing out the challenges and opportunities prevailing in the effort to reduce the violent conflict and enhance the conflict management and resolution process in the Region. More specifically this research has the following major significances.

1. It could help in identifying the challenges and opportunities for ethnic conflict resolution in the SNNPRS.
2. It helps in designing the strategies and mechanisms of intervention regarding to conflict management and resolutions, particularly in the study area.
3. It could also serve as springboard for further studies in the area.

1.7 Limitation of the Study

Some informants, especially those who have ideas assumed to be critical of the government, tend to be hesitant of giving the presumed critical comments. Some important information might thus be missed. However, attempt was made to establish confidence by explaining the purpose of the study, guaranteeing anonymity as well as describing and adjusting the manner of conducting the interview.

1.8 Methodology and Methods of the Study

There are few studies that have been done on the governmental institutions of conflict management and resolution in Ethiopia, i.e., MoFA and the HoF. The SNNPRS, which comprised of diverse ethno-linguistic groups, has its own governmental institutions, such as the CoN, working on conflict management and resolution activities. To the best of the researcher’s knowledge, however, there has been no study conducted on it. This necessitated conducting research on the CoN focusing on its role in conflict management and resolution.

The study employed qualitative approach. This is because qualitative methodology enables in-depth investigation of a specific phenomena in particular environment such as groups of people, institutions, cases, and geographical areas (Holliday, 2002). In such contexts, this approach enables to collect detailed data on perceptions, socio-cultural phenomena, organizational functioning and behavior and the reasons that govern such behaviors (Crang and Ian, 2007). Accordingly, this approach was used to study the events, processes, and mechanisms of the CoN in managing and resolving conflicts that arise within the SNNPRS.

As Creswell (2009) stated qualitative approach is best suited for researches that are explorative so that it will be possible to identify variables that can be used as a springboard for quantitative studies through objective measure of variables. Needless to say that, the problem at hand benefit from these advantages of qualitative approach; hence, worthy of being adopted for this study.

1.8.1 Data Sources

For the purpose of this study both primary and secondary sources of data were collected. The secondary sources of data includes books, journals, legal documents, archives, articles, magazines and newspapers that are pertinent to make the end result of this study fruitful. The primary sources of data are gathered from key informants. Document Review

For the purpose of analyzing and reinforcing what is gathered through primary sources and in an effort of making it credible, reviews of relevant books, journals, legal documents, articles and magazines were conducted. The secondary sources were then integrated with the primary sources so that the research could be comprehensive enough to capture elements of the phenomenon under study. Key Informant Interview

In-depth and unstructured face-to-face interviews were held with key informants except one individual with whom telephone interview was conducted. Respondent selection techniques were mainly based on purposive sampling in the study areas. This was because knowledgeable person with the desired expertise were to be suitable for the purpose at hand. Accordingly, a total of eighteen key informants were addressed from the community elders and leaders, the academia, and governmental and non-governmental organizations.

Eleven Federal, Regional, Zonal, and Woreda level officials and one NGO worker were selected. Two federal level officials from the HoF i.e. the manager of Conflict Resolution Strategy Preparation and Follow up Team and advisor of National Peace in the HoF as well as four regional officials i.e. two from the CoN and one from the SNNPRS Administration and Security Bureau were interviewed. Likewise, six Zonal and Woreda officials from the Gamo Gofa and Sidama Zones Security Department Heads, Arbaminch Zuria Woreda, Derashe Liyu Woreda, Wondo-Gent Woreda (Sidama Zone), and Wondo-Intaye Woreda (West Arsi Zone of Oromia) were interviewed. Further, an individual working in GiZ, South District was the informant of this study.

Four community leaders and elders from the Guji Oromo, Sidama, Zeise and Derashe ethnic groups and two academicians from Hawassa and Dilla Universities were also interviewed. The academicians’ intellectual background is from Political Science and International Relations and Peace and Security Studies.

1.8.2 Data Analysis

The collected data was analyzed by using qualitative techniques. As such, the data gathered through interview was transcribed into themes and analyzed in connection with the existing literatures. Thematic categorizations were drawn from the major points raised in the research questions. The data gained from differing sources was finally being compared with the purpose of critical examination of their various claims.

1.8.3 Ethical Considerations

This study is conducted in a manner that is consistent with ethical issues that need to be considered in conducting a research. Accordingly, letter from the Institute for Peace and Security Studies was written for the concerned bodies. Hence, most individuals, the researcher visited for interview accepted and cooperated with the researcher. Moreover, a prior consent of the informants was requested before conducting the interview. The informants were secured about attributions in this paper. Information gathered from those individuals who did not want to be quoted was presented anonymously.

1.8.4 Organization of the Study

The paper is organized into five chapters. The discussion of the problem, objectives and methods of the study is followed by a sketch of conceptual issues and theoretical frameworks are subsequent part of the study. After discussing the historical background of Ethiopian federal system in chapter three, the paper proceeds to discussions on the role of the CoN. Finally, the paper ends up with some concluding remarks.

Chapter Two: Theoretical and Conceptual Framework

2.1 Theoretical Framework

2.1.1 Major Theories of Conflict

Conflict has many roots. Some of the causes of conflicts include: competition for scarce resources, power and the nature of state and its institutions and others. Accordingly, a certain sources of conflict may tend to call forth a certain mechanisms of conflict resolution, looking some major theories in line with the nature of conflict is an important thing (Ludin and et al, 2000). Therefore, to make this study trustworthy the researcher make a review some of the major theories which mostly employed in the area of conflict management and resolution, as per these theories the study believes it will help us in considering ways of addressing conflicts. And some key aspect of which has been discussed below comprehensively. Identity Theory

A contested idea among scholars of the subject regarding ethnic identity is on its nature and importance to the members of an ethnic community. The major controversy in this regard was between the primordialists and instrumentalists. The core of the debate between these two school of thoughts, i.e. primordialists and instrumentalists, is whether ethnic identity have deep historical roots or not; and whether ethnic identity change significantly over time or not. Accordingly the primoridialists affirms that ethnic identities have deep roots and change little over time (Brown, 2005). They further argue that modernization is a threat to ethnic solidarity by prompting minorities to mobilize in defense of their identity (Gurr, 1994).

Instrumentalists, on the other hands claim that ethnic identity have no deep historical roots and change dramatically with passage of time. They believed ethnic identity as a recent construct that can be invoked for political and material gains. Instrumentalists underlined that the political elites play decisive roles in constructing and sharpening ethnic identity for political and economic ends (Jeong, 2008). Similarly, Tronvoll (2000) noted that under such an arrangement, ethnic identity may become a political construct created and manipulated by political entrepreneurs to enable them reinterpret and select aspect of culture and history that legitimize their grip on power.

On the other hand, identity categories can also be consciously manipulated to maintain the power of a dominant group and to justify discrimination against the minority/subordinate/ groups in political empowerment, economic position, and social relations. Jeong further stated that identity differences are not by themselves causes of conflict. Rather, the salience of group identity are awakened and deepened by the denial of political participation, as well as, lack of physical and economic security. Similarly, identity can be causes of conflict when a group disrespects and do not recognize the others identity (Jeong, 2000).

In line with this, some scholars have made investigation over the nature and salience of ethnic identity in Ethiopia. Sarah (2006), for example, stated that;

“The Ethiopia politics since 1960s, the ideology of the ruling Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) incorporate the similarly contradictory elements inherent in the notion of ‘granting self determination’ the conviction, on the one hand, that self selected communities respond better to mobilize ’within’, in their own language, by their own people, and, on the other, that ethnic groups are susceptible to identification and prescription ‘from above’, by a vanguard party applying a checklist of externally verifiable criteria. These two sets of assumption correlate with tenets of instrumentalism and primordialsm respectively, which are, as they stand, equally irreconcilable”.

Lincoln (2000), after observing the dynamics of ethnic-based federal arrangements in Nigeria and Ethiopia, argued that such arrangements give people additional reason to remember and stress their distinctiveness in the quest for benefits arising from having title over particular land. The conflicts that arise between various groups at the local level are byproducts of misconceptions regarding federal arrangement. In line with this, identity theory argued that in any community, if their own history and identity is perceived in terms of oppression, deprivation and marginalization and until this perception of the past is changed; it will be difficult to reach an agreement with the other group perceived to be the oppressor (Jeong, 2000).

Some scholars viewed the newly restructuring of the Ethiopian state since 1991 are complicating the inter ethnic relations by producing potentially disruptive factors. Merera (2002), for example, contends that only regions 1,2,3,4 and 5 have core nationalities which dominantly represent their ethnic groups. He further stated that the SNNPRS was formed through political surgery by lumping together several dozen diverse ethnic groups for political expediency. As a result marginalization of minority ethnic groups by majority ethnic groups within a given regional state is a cause for conflict. Particularly, Silte-Gurage and Wogoda case over the issue of ethnic identity observed in Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (Aklilu, 2002, cited in Asnake, 2009). Structural Conflict Theory

Structural conflict theory argues that conflicts, particularly; social conflicts are based on the unequal distribution of scarce resources. Accordingly, different scholars mentioned different type of scarce resources that lead societies to conflicts. Dahrendorf (1929) for example contends that there is one primary resource in society, power which drive conflict in societies. On the other hand, following Max Weber Randall provides three different types of scarce resource: economic resource, which may be broadly understood as all material conditions; power resources, which are understood as social position within control or organizational networks; and status or cultural resources, which understands as control over the rituals that produce solidarity and group symbols. Inequities in the distribution, use, needs, desires, and consequences of resources management have been sources of tension and international and intrastate disputes (Collins, 1941).

Natural resources have played a prominent role in the history of conflicts. Specially, competition over grazing land and water points could be enumerated as preceding factors for resource conflict among/between ethnic groups. The most common ways of manifestation of such a conflict are through group members and they develop stereotypes (oversimplified negative beliefs) of the opposing group, and tend to blame them for their own problems so that they practice discrimination against them (Fisher, 2000). Structurally, unfair or unjust relationships are often not recognized, while at least one of the two parties involved in some form of relationships fails to perceive its own dependence and unequal treatment by the other (Reimann, 2001).

Like any other multi ethnic communities, natural resource has been a major source of conflict in the SNPPRS among/between constituent ethnic groups in different course of time. Shortage of plowing lands, access to water and contention along the border of adjacent ethnic groups can be enumerated as major sources of resource based conflict in the Region. For example, Bodi and Dime, Wolyta and Sidama, Konso and Derashe, Konso and Burji were emerged in the SNNPRS and resource were the major source of these conflicts (Conflict Analysis Reader of the SNNPRS, 2007). Community Relations Theory

Community relations theory argues that conflict is caused by “ongoing polarization, mistrust and hostility between different groups within a community” (Ludin et al., 2000). In a community where there is no tolerance of diversity and mistrust stemming from different sources, the risk of conflict remains there. Such situations will more likely result in escalating suspicion, divergence and even fears of future victimization. In a similar vein, Hardlin (1995) argues that when the groups well-being or survival is threatened due to the mistrust and hostility they have with the other group(s) within the community, fears for the individual or the group’s future safety come to the forefront and the aspiration for inclusion in to one’s own ethnic entity becomes most important. This in turn magnifies the intensity of the problem by further embedding social polarization. Thus, conflict can also originate from the fears of communal groups about their future safety lived over their past and hence, accommodation are extremely difficult to make under such circumstances (Donald, 1997).

There was a history of conflict in the SNNPRS between Derashe and Konso that has led to the development of negative stereotypes and discrimination among the two ethnic groups (Conflict Analysis Reader in the SNNPRS, 2007). Evidently such history may make it difficult to integrate different ethnic and religious groups to live together in harmony because their experience makes it difficult for them to trust one another (MoFA; FDRE& GTC, 2004). This also hinders the flow of communication between ethnic groups that have such historical legacy and bended the perception that they have about each other. Therefore, community relations theory argues, in order to address such conflicts, the effort should be made to improve the communication and understanding between conflict groups, to promote greater tolerance and acceptance of diversity within the community.

2.2 Conceptual Framework

2.2.1 Understanding Conflict

As mentioned earlier, the term conflict is ambiguous, and many scholars define it various ways. For example Siman et al (2000) and Jeong (2008) define conflict as a relationship between two or more parties in which each party perceives the other’s goals, values, interests, or behavior as incompatible to its own. Among many peoples, conflict is viewed negatively as an evil to be avoided (Tsegaye, 2008). Tsegaye further stated that it is also mostly viewed as a disquiet to be cured from, and negative posturing of conflict has led to the misguided idea (among many who work with conflicts) that conflict is an unfortunate “accident” that has to be “resolved”. Hence, it is a situation which happens when peoples pursue goals or interests which often clash with others.

From these definitions we can identify some core elements. Accordingly, for a conflict to emerge or occur: firstly, there should be at least two or more disputant parties and secondly, ‘perceived’ incompatibility of goals, which could not be met simultaneously (perception of goal incompatibility is, therefore, a necessary precondition for a conflict to exist) and thirdly, the state of interdependence or relationship between or among the parties i.e. interdependence of activities where goals are incompatible presents occasion for potential conflict. Fourthly, Conflict is a natural part of life. Dealing with it in an effective and meaningful way is the main difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one. So conflict should not view only from the negative dimension. Tsegaye (2009) further underscores that;

The negative posturing of conflicts has also led to an ad hoc and unsystematic approach to handling of conflicts. Experience has however progressively shown that conflict needs to be viewed more positively and it’s handling, too, must be more systematic and constructive. With this positive posturing has come the recent re-conceptualization of conflict more as a process than as an incident.

2.2.2 Dispute Settlement

The existing body of literature confirms that the nature and causes of conflicts and the mechanisms for resolving them are deeply rooted in the culture and history of every society. Jeong (2000) for example argues that since disputes between the different levels of the government as well as between and/or among different units are inevitable, thus, dispute resolution mechanisms are vital. Accordingly, everywhere in the world, people employ different resolution mechanisms to solve conflicts arising from different sources and at different levels. It is possible to categorize these mechanisms into two broad categories as “traditional or indigenous” and “modern” conflict resolution mechanisms (Tsegaye, 2008). The conflicts stemming from any sources are, thus, handled through traditional methods and/or modern conflict resolving institutions regardless of the differences in origin, applications etc. Both the traditional and modern conflict resolution mechanisms occasionally work together. Thus, conflict has a positive role to play if only we have the necessary skills to create the synergy for the well being of all the contending parties.

There is no particular adapted techniques, both formal and informal, to manage conflicts although the techniques are based on intuition, logics & commutation arts (Zartman, 1999). But conflict management and resolution is the two most commonly used technique to deal with conflict before and after a violent conflict broke out (Jeong, 2000). Conflict Management

Conflict management is different from conflict resolution. Conflict management as a concept and practice has been recognized as an important strategy in dealing with conflicts. Throughout human history, people have been exploring the ways of managing conflicts, ranging back to Sun Tuzu in the east and philosophers in the Greek city states in the west though they seldom used the term explicitly (Swanstorm et al; 2005).

Conflict Management can be enforced as soon as the actors are identified, and direct measures can be applied in first phases when a conflict is manifest, but before violence has occurred (Mikeal, 2007). Conflict management process does not begin with the identification of a particular conflict. For example it fits in the planning stage of a project or program anticipating possible conflict in the use rights of stakeholders defined in terms of time frame, space and magnitude (Conflict Management and Resolution Guide, 2004).

Moreover, conflict management is employed in the short time frame before a war is to erupt, and when the conflict escalates rapidly. And it play a more pro-active role in preventing conflicts by fostering productive communication and collaboration among diverse interests, addressing the underlying causes of conflicts, developing trust and understanding and using participatory and collaborative planning for undertaking complex tasks( Dewy, 1922, quoted in NOSR, 2007).

Conflict managements involves acquiring skills related to conflict resolution, self-awareness about conflict modes, conflict communication skills, and establishing a structure for management of conflict in our environment. These tools are used to induce the parties to open up, identify the real issues behind the publicly pronounced positions and find out “win win” solutions that leave both the parties better off with the outcome. However, it is not possible to come up with “win-win” outcomes all the time. In order to succeed trade off and compromise would be necessary (The Foundation Coalition, ND: 123). Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution is simply an act to settle disputes by searching what a particular position and the interests that underlies it and providing a solution that all parties achieve mutually agreed on outcome with respect to their (the parties) differences (Gurr, 2005). In other words, “Dispute/conflict resolution is a process by which two or more conflicting parties improve their situations by cooperative action. Accordingly, it is not only a process of mediation but it should also be a multilateral approach capable of mobilizing the range of intervention strategies (David et al, 1986). The principles upon which conflict resolution is based these include consensus, arbitration, dialogue, facilitation, reconciliation, mediation, and adjudication (Quency, 1958). And if these processes are available and efficiently operated, settlement may be achieved at any point. Therefore, those people who deal with a conflict need to have appropriate knowledge and skill of the strategies.

Despite the fact that conflict is a persistent aspects of life, most people have developed, however, only insufficient skills for handling the conflicts they come across. And, there are various determinants for the successes or failures in the process of conflict resolution. “Dispute resolution theories analyze various barriers to the efficient resolution of conflict and seek to design strategies that reduce or overcome those barriers (Tom, 1984). For instance, if parties in a conflict situation have a cooperative rather than a competitive orientation toward one another, they will be more likely to engage in a constructive process of conflict resolution and vice versa (Morton, 1984). Thus successful conflict resolution strategies and practices require an integration of both external and local knowledge, transparent procedures, an accessible judicial system, and the like.

Different writers propose different types of styles by which a conflict can be resolved. According to Wright (1951), for instance, Social conflicts can relatively be solved, in four ways:

“by negotiation and agreement resulting in settlement or adjustment in accord with the will of all the parties; by adjudication and decision in accord with the will, perhaps guided by legal or moral principles, of an outside party; by dictation or decision in accordance with the will of one party to the conflict; and by obsolescence through agreement to disagree which may in time, as new issues arise, sink the conflict into oblivion and result in a settlement according to the will of no one”.

In most cases, however, the aspect of conflict resolution focuses on the manifestations in a given conflict situation and assigns the task of settlement to the post-conflict peace building processes. Yet, any conflict resolution mechanisms are supposed to handle disputes before they are changed into negative or harsh consequences.

2.2.3 Ethnicity, Federalism and Conflict Understanding of Ethnicity, Nation and Nationality

Many scholars view ethnicity differently, and it has not a mutually agreed definition. Some define it as kinship, group solidarity and the other define it as a distinct group that has common culture and ancestry. According to Michael (2007), ethnicity refers to relationships between groups whose members consider themselves distinctive, and these groups may be ranked hierarchically within a society. Ethnicity has distinct characteristics include, inter alia, shared myths of origin, common language, ritual, religion and genealogical descent that distinguish groups and peoples from one another (Calhoun, 1993). Similarly, Smith (1986) noted that in the first place, ethnicities must have a name in order to developed collective identity. Subsequently, the people in the ethnic group must believe in a common ancestry and they must have a sense of their common ethnics. Thirdly, the members of the ethnic group must share myths (common historical memories); same culture that based on language, religion, traditions, customs, architecture, institutions etc. Feeling or an attachment to a specific territory is the other core criteria to identify a group as ethnicity (Smith, 1986).

The term nationality is derived from the Latin word nats, which means ‘to be born, therefore in its derivative term, nationality means belonging to the same racial stock or being related by birth or having blood relationship (McDougall, 2003). Likewise Calhoun(1993) nationality has psychological ground, which is generated in a group of people having geographical unity and who belongs to a common race, common history, religion, customs and traditions, economic interests and common hopes and more of it as a cultural denotation. In contrast, Esman (2004) argued that it is very difficult to find racial purity because of increased racial combinations due to immigrations, inter-caste and inter-racial marriages. There is today not a single nation in the world whose people belongs to the same racial stock (May et al, 2002). Every nation has people of mixed racial background. The people of a nationality must have a sense of unity (Esman, 2004).

Nation refers to a collectivity existing within a clearly demarcated territory, which is subject to a unitary administration, reflexively monitored both by the internal state apparatus and those of other states. Ramsay (1932) defined nation as an entity which consists of population of the same race, language and tradition, inhabiting the same territory and constituting the larger part of its population. Dougall (2003) on his part viewed nation as a body of people who feel themselves to be naturally linked together by certain affinities, which are so strong for them to live together, they are dissatisfied when disunited and cannot tolerate subjection to people who do not share the same ties. The evolution of the state has shown that there may be states with more than one nationality and there may be nationalities spread over more than one states. Understanding Ethnic Conflict

Ethnic conflict is defined as a dispute between two or more ethnic communities based on the assertions of ethnic needs and interests (Brown, 2005). Scholars in the field underlined certain points that shall be taken in to consideration in the discourse of ethnic conflicts. One among of such points is that, though ethnic homogeneity is not a guarantee for peaceful coexistence, ethnic conflicts are inherent in a society comprising multi ethnic groups. The second point is that ethnic identity and differentiation do not necessarily leads to conflicts unless potentially conflict producing factors are in place (Stein, 2005).

Different scholars stated different causes of ethnic conflicts. For example Ted R. Gurr (2005) identifies four general sets of factors that determine the nature, intensity and persistence in the occurrence of ethnic conflicts. These are the salience of ethno cultural identities for members and leaders of a group; the extent to which a group has a collective incentive for political action and the availabilities of opportunities in the groups; political environment that increases its chance of attaining group objectives through political action. He further added that the claims made by ethnic groups and the strategies they persuade depend up on the political environment.

Rothchild (1991), in his part, mention certain factors that would in particular cause ethnic conflicts. The factor which he termed as “psychological –symbolic array of conflict-producing factors” include an assertion of group worth and place; a fear of systematic restraitification and losses of political dominance; the determination to resist a controlling groups effort to spread its culture; the existence of negative remembrance and image; and evidence of superiorities on the part of politically or economically dominate majority.

Furthermore, Brown (2005) explained a cluster of factors that could be a cause to identity conflicts and make some place liable to violent conflicts. He categorized the factors in to two as underlying and proximate; and explained sub factors belonging to each group. The underlining factors that produce ethnic conflicts as a structural, political, social and cultural/perceptual factors. Likewise Gurr (2005) the nature of the state, ethnic composition and political administration plays an important role in the occurrences of identity conflict. He further argued that the possibilities of ethnic conflicts increase in the weak states due to prevalence of insecurity and uncertainty among constituting ethnic groups. Mechanisms of Managing and Resolving Ethnic Conflict

Many writers argued that ethnic conflicts are one of the most complex conflicts that require careful and systematic effort of management and resolution. Accordingly different scholars provided different mechanisms which they believe are crucial to mange and resolve conflicts that are based on the assertion of ethnic needs and interests.


Excerpt out of 84 pages


Conflict Management and Resolution in the SNNPRS (Ethiopia). The Role of Council of Nationalities As Panacea?
conflict resolution
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
conflict, management, resolution, snnprs, ethiopia, role, council, nationalities, panacea
Quote paper
Yideg Munana (Author), 2012, Conflict Management and Resolution in the SNNPRS (Ethiopia). The Role of Council of Nationalities As Panacea?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Conflict Management and Resolution in the SNNPRS (Ethiopia). The Role of Council of Nationalities As Panacea?

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free