Peace and stability are important in promoting economic development of individuals and society. Political stability is critical to progress and development since it affects all aspects of security and economic and social development in a country. Peace and stability are prerequisites for the realization of human rights, as well. In the course of working toward the recently concluded MDGs, the international community has realized the importance of peace and stability and their intrinsic links with development and human rights. Countries that failed to accomplish the MDGs are the ones that are politically unstable and often plagued by conflict. On the other hand, politically stable and peaceful countries were able to post better outcomes on the MDGs.
Peace and stability are not only imperative for development, they are also reinforced by the latter. Peace and stability have direct effects on the creation of sound, competitive and equitable economic development, which ultimately has positive impact on the whole society. No country can develop or grow economically without peaceful coexistence among its population. Exemplifying a virtuous circle, peace and stability are the basis of development and development is the basis of peace. Development and economic growth can only be strengthened by the prevalence of peace and political stability. Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has proposed to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Central to the 2030 agenda for sustainable development is the need to promote peaceful and inclusive societies based on respect for human rights, the rule of law, access to justice and social services. In the Horn of Africa, distinguished by the prevalence and persistence of armed conflicts and tensions between and within states, the only country that has enjoyed sustained levels of relative internal peace and security is Eritrea. Generally, neighboring countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, and South Sudan have often had to face protracted violence, terrorism and armed conflict.
People in conflict-affected countries are deprived of their rights to live in dignity and their opportunities to develop. They are more likely to be impoverished, unable to attend schools, and denied of access to basic health services and other public goods. Women are among the most vulnerable in any society. During conflict, they are especially vulnerable to being assaulted, trafficked, or otherwise exploited, as seen in DRC, Nigeria, and elsewhere. When we think of the human toll, medical costs and resources allocated to stemming violence or dealing with its consequences, instability and conflict are devastating for societies.
Conflict entails enormous and multifaceted costs, including direct human suffering and catastrophic socioeconomic disruptions. Thus, it significantly impedes the achievement of development. Civil wars and other types of conflicts have created economic, social, cultural and environmental stresses. In low-income but richly endowed societies, where national resources are taken by the few – often corrupt officials or other elites – the likelihood of conflict is high. Social stresses, including high inequality in both opportunity and income, are also among the causes of conflict. If the benefits and revenues of the country’s resources are not equally distributed, conflict is inevitable. This is demonstrated by the current public outrage and violence in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Unfortunately, breaking the vicious cycle of conflict and underdevelopment is not easy. With time, it may even become seemingly impossible to achieve any development, progress, peace, or stability.
Establishing lasting peace, stability, justice and prosperity requires building legitimate and honest institutions and good governance. However, good governance and legitimate institutions cannot be simply transplanted from foreign countries (although experiences and best practices can be shared); rather, they can only be built and developed in accordance with country specific circumstances through a long and slow process. The strategy and policy directives of Eritrea are not copied from other countries. They start from the realities of the country, its history and its rich experiences. Since independence, Eritrea has sought to chart an independent line embodying dignity, justice, self-reliance and liberty.
Peace and stability are the essential components of nation-building. “When we speak of achievements,” as President Isaias Afwerki once stated, “it would be better to speak about the prerequisite of achievement before speaking about achievements.” He would go on to underscore the fact that stability is the precondition for all developments. Speaking about the achievements registered in economic, social, and other sectors, without creating a stable environment is like placing the cart before the horse. Today, Eritrea seeks to create durable and robust stability in line with its long tradition and political culture. The stability of Eritrea, besides helping the country to implement various development projects, also gives strength to counter ever-present regional and international hostility.
The internal peace, stability and harmony that Eritrea enjoys are the result of the unity developed during the long liberation struggle. The political organization (Peoples Front) that led the struggle to victory created a political culture that ensures harmony among the diverse nature of the Eritrean society. The prevalence of peace and stability in Eritrea disproves the reason that it is diversity that leads to instability in Africa. Additional evidence that challenges the hypothesis “diversity leads to instability” is the case of Somalia. Somalia is the only African nation that has a largely homogenous culture, language and religion but is struggling to become one nation.
African economies remain underdeveloped despite decades of conceptualizing, formulating and implementing various types of economic policies and programs. The development challenges of Africa are not low income, low savings, or slow growth. These are the symptoms or effects of underdevelopment. The real or underlying development challenges in Africa are inequality, uneven distribution of resources, social exclusion and marginalization, insecurity, moral degradation and corruption among others. When people feel in jeopardy and when they are denied their fair share of resources, it’s inevitable to enter into conflict. President Isaias Afwerki has explained the chain that connects stability and fair distribution of resources: “My belief is that in order to have stability within one country, the society must get a fair and reasonable share from the resources.” The peace and stability prevalent in Eritrea is the outcome of a cautious approach focused on social justice and good governance.
There is no region of this world that has not experienced wars, but while many parts of the world have moved towards greater political and economic stability, Africa remains in political and economic instability. The impact of political instability on the security and development of societies is evident. They are experiencing unrest and security changes. Insecurity is an inevitable result of instability.
Peace is the first condition of successful development. Human beings are political animals, and they seek to live in a society where peace, stability and harmony reign, and have developed states as the highest form of organization. If the state fails to provide security and development to citizens, there is little reason for citizens to be loyal or obedient. For societies and citizens to live a decent life, security is paramount. Eritrea, a country that won its independence with a heavy sacrifice, has supported its political independence with a strong focus on peace, justice, stability, and prosperity. Eritreans, whose unity is embedded in a long tradition of peaceful and harmonious coexistence, and which was reinforced by the collective experience of the struggle for liberation and reconstruction, is one of the most united, peaceful and stable countries in Africa. The pragmatic approach of the government supports strong national unity and this, in turn, creates the basis for peace and stability. The availability of human resources, its strategic location, and the prevalence of peace and stability collectively make Eritrea a promising country ready for development, progress and improvement. Peace and stability are enablers of development.