n African Journal on Conflict Resolution - Competing orders and conflicts at the margins of the State : inter-group conflicts along the Ethiopia-Kenya border

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1562-6997


In this paper, the interplay between various competing orders among three ethnic groups on the margins of the Ethiopian state that have overlapping presence along the Ethiopia-Kenya border is analysed. The paper probes into complex and intertwined causes of inter-group conflicts by going beyond the commonly asserted resource scarcity and ethnicity assumptions, arguing that any attempt to establish sustainable peace becomes futile without assessing inter-group conflict within a context including historical, environmental, political, economic, cultural and institutional dimensions. The paper also conceptualises the state as an active player in inter-group relations, as it plays a fundamental role in instigating and/or resolving conflicts based on its political, economic and strategic interests. Taking the case of inter-group conflicts among three groups inhabiting border areas along southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya, and by employing actor-oriented perspectives, the paper argues that the involvement of competing interests and claims on the side of the Ethiopian state, local communities and individuals, both in the instigation of conflicts and peacebuilding processes further complicates the situation. It concludes that inter-group conflict and attempts at peacebuilding in the region are to a large extent influenced by national political dynamics, changes in traditional institutions and cross-border relations.

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