Cooperation and international support to support peace and development in the Horn of Africa

EOn 8 July, at a meeting convened by Finland, EU foreign ministers discussed the situation in the Horn of Africa. The video conference, chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs Haavisto, sought to strengthen countries’ shared situational picture of measures that would improve international cooperation to support the region.

“Peace, stability and development in the Horn of Africa requires close contacts between representatives of the region and international players,” said Minister for Foreign Affairs Haavisto in his opening remarks. 

The following representatives of central actors in the region spoke at the conference: Commissioner of the African Union Peace and Security Commission Smaïl Chergui, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary A. DiCarlo and Executive Secretary for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development IGAD Workneh Gebeyehu. EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen, Managing Director for Africa at the European External Action Service Koen Vervaeke and European Union Special Representative for the Horn of Africa Alexander Rondos contributed the EU perspective to the discussion. 

Several countries in the Horn of Africa are undergoing societal changes that have an impact on the positive development of the region’s security and economy. Cooperation between international institutions and their commitment to the support of the Horn of Africa form a central part of the strengthening of societies in the region.  

“Sudan will continue to need strong international support for its transition to democracy also in future,” stressed Minister Haavisto. The participants commended the Sudan Partnership Conference, held at the end of June, for the USD 1.8 billion pledge. The discussions between Somalia and Somaliland on the stabilisation of the internal situation of Somalia are a welcome step forward in the Horn of Africa, and reliable support from the international community is needed.

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are global but, compared to that, the challenge posed by countries that are already structurally fragile is manifold. Tensions arise between countries not only because of climate issues but also from questions concerning natural resources and their management. Concern is caused by tensions between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and its effects on the Nile. In the discussion, participants emphasised the importance of political dialogue for finding a solution. Ethiopia’s recent violent protests worried the participants, too. 

“Africa's ownership and leadership are naturally central principles to be observed in broader cooperation,” stressed Minister Haavisto. Speakers emphasised that cooperation between the countries of the Horn of Africa is critical in finding solutions to the large variety of challenges. Youth play a significant role in the future of the Horn of Africa. “It is important to learn about the goals of women and girls. They are heralds of change,” said Commissioner Urpilainen.

“Societal changes in the Horn of Africa impact widely both the entire continent and the surrounding regions in the Red Sea, for example. Finland has close contacts with partners in the Horn of Africa, and we want to be a constructive actor in this cooperation also in future,” says Minister for Foreign Affairs Haavisto.