Dear readers,

Studies have shown that civilians make up over 80 percent of the population directly affected by armed conflicts. In 2019, the world experienced its highest spike in state-based conflicts since 1946, with 54 state-based conflicts, and fifty thousand conflict-related recorded deaths. The nature of conflicts has also evolved in form; from colonial wars to interstate wars, to civil wars and as of recent decades internationalized civil wars (Palik, Rustad, Methi. Conflict Trends: A Global Overview, 1946–2019). Whilst conflict
was on an upward trend before 1970, so too were the proportion of conflicts that were resolved by some form of a multi-party dialogue. However, the opposite is true today. National dialogues are increasingly described as an avenue to arrive at a national-level consensus, often to avert an impending deterioration. National dialogues are often presumed to be successful, in part, due to their comparatively inclusive and participatory nature. Whilst some scholars view national dialogues as a form of political settlement, where mutual concessions are expected, others view it as a diagnostic tool merely to assess the internal posture and cohesion, or lack thereof.

This March Edition will explore multiple theoretical and practical viewpoints on national dialogues, their use, and feasibility, as well as the necessary preconditions that would facilitate a fruitful national dialogue.

I would first like to extend heartfelt gratitude to Ambassador Mohamoud Dirir Gheddi for his willingness to share his experience, and expertise, by providing insight into Ethiopia’s mediation role in Sudan in 2019. As a lead
negotiator at the time, Ambassador Dirir briefly shares his experience as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Special Envoy to Sudan in Ethiopia’s endeavor to mediate between the parties.

I also thank Dr. Yonas Ashine, Assistant Professor at Addis Ababa University’s Department of Political Science and International Relations, for pushing us to explore alternate texts and
literature in our search for commonality and mutual understanding.

I am equally thankful to Dr. Mukerrem Miftah, Assistant Professor of Policy Studies at the Civil Service University, for taking time to sit with Horn Review for a detailed explanation of the dual phenomena of political transitions and national dialogues in the context of neighboring Sudan.

Lastly, I thank Dr. Samson Mekonnen, Assistant Professor of Communication at Addis
Ababa University’s School of Journalism and Communication for addressing the critical role of media entities in keeping the national dialogue process and design transparent, inclusive, and representative.

Bethlehem Mehari