The center for Dispute Resolutions, , Institute of Population Studies of the Mekelle University,  in collaboration with the Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies Institute (EFRSSI); and the Institute of Dispute Resolution in Africa (IDRA), at the University of South Africa (UNISA) conducted an international conference on "The African way of Resolving Conflicts: The Harmony model" from 11th to 12­th May 2017 at Planet Hotel, Mekelle.


Dr. Kinfe Abraha, Director of Institute of Population studies, in his introductory speech warmly welcomed the conference participants and explained that the main objective of the institute of population studies is to integrate the fast population growth rate of the nation with the already started poverty reduction and sustainable development process and this task is performed through the capacity building processes, research endeavors and community services. It is also explained that there are five centers under the institute and these are Center for Population and Development (CPD), Center for Migration Studies (CMS), Center for Ancient Knowledge Systems (CAKS), Center for Environment and Development (CED); and Center for Dispute Resolution (CDR) respectively. The CDR created a strong linkage and partnership with IDRA at UNISA and as a result of that partnership MoU was signed between IDRA and MU; and six academic staff of MU have already joined IDRA for their Post-Doctoral Fellowship (PDF). Dr. Kinfe Abraha also elaborated that 26 students have already graduated in MSc Degree from the institute and 13 of them are females. As part of the research work and community services, CMS is also working on Addressing the Root Causes of Migration in Ethiopia by creating an Employable Youth in Ethiopia.  

 Dr. Kinfe Abraha

Dr. Kinfe Abraha, Director of Institute of Population studies, MU

Dr. Kindeya Gebrehiwot, President of Mekelle University, in his welcoming speech, also noted that Conflict is a major factor that hinders the poverty reduction and development process of a nation. He also explained that conflicts are causes of immature deaths and divert resources that could otherwise be used productively; hence, there appears to be general agreement on their undesirability. In his speech, Dr. Kindeya stated that cconflicts often occur when people or groups of people perceive that as a result of disagreement there may be treat to their interests; and as resources in this world are scarce, there will always be a competition for the control of resources and in some cases Dr. Kindeya expressed his idea that these competitions may end up in clashes and different forms of violence. Taking all these into account, Dr. Kindeya Gebrehiwot illustrated that this special event can play in giving insights about the possible bedrocks of conflicts, their social, political and economic impacts, our way of handling conflicts, and a way forward on using or integrating the time tested African ways of resolving conflicts. Dr. Kindeya also expressed his deep gratitude to the Institute of Dispute Resolution in Africa of UNISA and the Ethiopian Foreign Relations Strategic Studies Institute for partnering with the Mekelle University in the process of addressing the issue of conflict in evidence based way. He then concluded his speech by appreciating the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Pastoral Development of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Tigray Development Association and the Tigray Bureau of Planning and Finance for sponsoring this timely and important conference.

Dr. kindeya

Dr. Kindeya Gebrehiwot, President of Mekelle University

His Excellency, Ato Abay Weldu, President of Tigray Regional State, gave an opening speech, in which he warmly welcomed all the participants of the conference to Ethiopia and Tigray in particular. In his opening remark, he indicated that conflict is a natural phenomenon in any society. What matters is the way we handle and resolve conflicts. In order to achieve peaceful conflict resolution, peaceful means must be employed so that common interests can be found.


The conference brings together distinguished guests from federal government and regional government of Tigray, professionals and researchers from different institution across Africa and abroad. According to the organizers, this international conference on  “The African Way of Resolving Conflicts: The Harmony Model” is taking place with the intention of discussing the linkage between Peace and development: by addressing the root causes of Conflicts in Africa, and also documenting the African way of resolving conflicts are some among a number of objectives that would be achieved.

His.Exellency Ambassador Wahide Belay

Ambassador Wahide Belay, African affairs Director General and Ethiopia's permanent representative to the AU and UNECA

Ambassador Wahide Belay, African affairs Director General and Ethiopia's permanent representative to the AU and UNECA, also addressed participants of the conference. In his short statement on “The African Peace and Security issues: AU’s Perspective, Ambassador Wahide Belay elaborated that preventing conflicts is the main priority of the African Union and in order to do so, we Africans need to have an early warning system so that we can forecast disputes and conflicts before they occurred. A prominent scientist of the field of conflict resolution, Professor John Andrew Faris from South Africa presented the details of the harmony model and clearly explained the main differences of this model from the western modalities of conflict resolution.

The two days conference entertained three keynote addresses, one speech by a guest speaker and more than 25 scientific research papers that focused on the ‘African way of Resolving Conflicts’ practices, challenges, opportunities and future perspectives. Overall, all the presentations revealed that the time-tested African way of resolving conflicts less individualistic, more participatory, better transparent, enables to maintain the right attitude; and is also time saving. Besides, it also quickly responds to crises, contributes to the saving of public money, and is also better accessible to citizens than the western modality of dispute resolution.