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Nobel at Noon: Peace

November 25, 2019

The Nobel Prize in Peace 2019 was awarded to Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali for “his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.”

Sebawit Bishu, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs at CU Denver, will lead a discussion about Abiy for the December 5th Nobel at Noon Series.

The Nobel at Noon Series spotlights each Nobel Prize with an informal presentation and discussion. CU Denver faculty experts discuss the meaning and importance of the Nobel Prize while drawing the audience into a discussion about why this award matters to society as a whole.

The lecture begins at 12 p.m. on Thursday, December 5, in the Wartgow Welcome Center (Student Commons Building, Room 1300). Light refreshments will be provided. Feel free to bring your lunch.

Restoring peace

From the moment he took office in April 2018, Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed Ali began working towards peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea with Eritrea president Isaias Afwerki. In July, the two countries signed a peace agreement, restoring diplomatic relations and allowing embassies within their respective countries.

“An important premise for the breakthrough was Abiy Ahmed’s unconditional willingness to accept the arbitration ruling of an international boundary commission in 2002,” said the Nobel committee, referring to a ruling that awarded some territory to each side, with the city of Badme (the flash point of the conflict) awarded to Eritrea, a previous point of contention for Ethiopia.

Within his first 100 days as prime minister, Abiy lifted Ethiopia’s state of emergency, granted amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinued media censorship, legalized outlawed opposition groups, dismissed military and civilian leaders suspected of corruption, and pledged to strengthen the region’s democracy by holding free and fair elections next year. Abiy also increased the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life. Ethiopia now has a gender balanced Cabinet and its first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde.

“Ethiopia is Africa’s second most populous country and has East Africa’s largest economy,” said the Committee. “A peaceful, stable, and successful Ethiopia will have many positive side-effects, and will help to strengthen fraternity among nations and peoples in the region.”

Abiy’s work is far from done

In the wake of the peace process, Abiy has engaged in other peace and reconciliation processes in East and Northwest Africa, contributing to negotiations between Eritrea and Djibouti, and mediating between Kenya and Somalia.

The Committee acknowledged that many challenges remained unsolved for the new prime minister, including the displacement of nearly three million Ethiopians and an escalation of strife within the country. But they hope the honor gives recognition to the work done so far and will serve as encouragement to continue efforts of reconciliation, solidarity, and social justice.