Ethiopian leader wins Nobel Prize


Photo courtesy of: Aron Simeneh

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed speaks at an inauguration event in Addis Ababa. Ahmed was honored for his role in maintaining peace in Ethiopia.

The world’s population encounters a lot of trials. Due to this, even the smallest attempt at world peace is coveted.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia won the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. It was due to his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, especially regarding the independent country Eritrea, that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The two countries, Ethiopia and Eritrea, have had a rocky history. Eritrea, once claimed by the late Emperor Haile Selassie, fought for its independence from Ethiopia, and the border between the two countries had been under dispute since Eritrea gained independence in 1991. This recent dispute regarded the border town Badme.
Ahmed played a large role in ending the 20-year stalemate following the 1998-2000 border war between the two countries.

According to the New York Times, the peace-talks he reintroduced and the political and economic freedom he brought were both essential.

He stated that the honor awarded to him was “a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia,” and [he] “can imagine how the rest of Africa’s leaders will take it positively to work on the peace-building process in our continent.”

According to Sara McGuire-Jay, a Modern World History teacher at WHHS, “parts of Africa are phenomenally tribal and divided,” and much of that serves as a legacy of the Berlin Conference of 1884 to 1885. This involved European nations gathering together in order to colonize Africa.

Ahmed believes in the people of Ethiopia coming together as a whole, and not being loyal to a certain tribe, by implementing a series of reforms. Instead of identifying as Amhara, Oromo and so forth, the country should come together as a whole to restore national unity, according to Ahmed.

“Ethiopia is different in that it was the one African country that was never taken over by European imperialists,” McGuire-Jay said. Theoretically, this should put the country at an advantage in terms of unification, and Ahmed is trying to emphasize this.

Ethiopia is different in that it was the one African country that was never taken over by European imperialists.”

— Sara McGuire-Jay

One of the important things regarding the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to him is that it encourages more positive attention toward Ethiopia as a whole.

Putting Ahmed on the list of recipients for 2019 would intrigue a large group of people to research his history as well as the history of his country, and recognition from foreigners could end up going a long way.

Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest countries, with division sweeping the nation, and perhaps the next step towards prosperity would be their people uniting as one in order to take on the rest of the world.

As Candace Dean, ‘25, said, “only certain people get [the Nobel Peace Prize], and it’s an honor.” And for starting the road to unification, Ahmed was definitely considered a strong candidate.

A way these attempts are recognized is via the Nobel Peace Prize. This prize is chosen by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a five member committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway, and is awarded to individuals who have put in time and made significant steps in order to bring peace to the world.

Nominations are kept a secret, with the nominee often not knowing they have been nominated at first. While this award is entitled the Nobel Peace Prize, many have received it for actions that may have ended up disrupting peace in order for the greater good. Shannon Speaker, ‘25, said that “there should be an award for [the Nobel Peace Prize], but not specifically dedicated to peace.”