PRIO has invited three specialists on African history and politics – David M. Anderson (University of Oxford), William Reno (Northwestern University) and Liv Tørres (Norwegian People's Aid) – to debate war, peace and development in the Horn of Africa at Litteraturhuset.

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  • Why is the Horn of Africa the most conflict prone region in Africa?
  • Has the Horn of Africa become more peaceful since the turn of the millennium?
  • Do developments in the Horn of Africa offer any lessons learned?

The Horn of Africa is the most violent and conflict ridden region in the world. Seen in a global perspective, and compared with other parts of Africa, it appears that the countries in this region are particularly affected by wars and organized violence. The civil wars in Sudan and Somalia are frequently evoked when illustrating the terrible state of things in the region. The Horn of Africa is often associated with deadly famines, and a place where well-functioning democracies are in short supply. The majority of the population on the Horn lives in war zones, in insecure rural areas or in slums with a high level of criminality. Sudan’s president, Hassan Omar Al-Bashir, is the first head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

But we also see positive trends on the Horn of Africa. There have been fewer large-scale wars since the year 2000. Eritrea and Ethiopia has maintained peace for more than a decade. The peace agreement between the Southern rebels and the government of Sudan also still holds, and the South Sudan’s separation in 2011 went relatively peacefully. Somaliland in the north of Somalia has experienced a peaceful and democratic development, despite the fact that the Somali state has collapsed and that the international community refuses to recognize Somaliland as an independent state. Several countries on the Horn have also recorded a strong economic growth since 2000. However, the level of organised violence may not have been reduced, as today’s conflicts tend to be more low-scale and less visible.

Liv Tørres is secretary general of Norwegian People’s Aid, and has a PhD in Political Science, with Southern Africa as her special field.

David M. Anderson is professor of African History at the University of Oxford. He is one of the world’s leading experts on Kenya’s modern history and has published ground-breaking research on the relationship between politics, violence and land issues.

William Reno is professor in Political Science at the Northwestern University, Evanston. He is a leading authority on conflict and insurgent groups in Africa and has recently published a book on warfare in independent Africa.