The Ethiopian war in Tigray is over.
On November 2, federal forces and rebel authorities agreed on a “cessation of hostilities,” ending a conflict believed to have killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions. All sides committed abuses, as documented by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and other international observers.
“No one has been clean in this war,” said Desta Heliso, a visiting lecturer at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. “As Christians, we have to feel sorry about this.”
The peace agreement, however, provides for a biblical mandate.
Most negotiations concerned military realities. The two-year conflict in the Horn of Africa nation’s northernmost region—home to 7 million of Ethiopia’s 120 million people—vacillated in advantage between the two sides and between hostilities and humanitarian truce.
The United Nations stated 5.2 million Tigrayans need assistance.
But as federal forces pressed deeper into Tigray, peace talks sponsored by the African Union (AU) in South Africa concluded with an agreement for complete disarmament of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) within 30 days. National troops may enter the regional capital of Mekele; assume control of all borders, highways, and airports; and expedite humanitarian aid.
Both sides agree to cease defamation campaigns, and the central government will ensure restoration of communication, transportation networks, and banking services.
But long-term peace may depend on the outcome of a minor clause included among the 15 measures. The federal government agrees to conduct a “comprehensive transitional justice policy” consistent with the AU framework.
Ethiopia will be the first experiment in implementation.
“The possibility for reconciliation is there,” said Heliso, who was formerly vice president of the Kale Heywet Church, one of Ethiopia’s largest evangelical denominations. “But some claims for justice will have to be given up for peace, painful as it might be.”
That may not be necessary. Adopted in 2019, the African Union’s 2019 Transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) goes beyond criminal accountability—while ensuring impartial investigation—to set up measurable standards for…
This article was originally published at Christianity Today, on November 11, 2022. Please click here to read the full text.