In order for Ethiopia to be perceived as a credible regional and global power, it should seize this opportunity to resolve its conflicts, integrate the region’s economy, and address issues of common interest. 

By Yousif Yahya (World Policy) |

On June 28, Ethiopia was elected to one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council. Although Ethiopia is one of Africa’s rising stars with a rapidly growing economy, the recent election is contentious since the country’s location has kept it in the middle of geopolitical conflicts—some of which have been frozen for decades, draining the resources of the countries involved. In order for Ethiopia to be perceived as a credible regional and global power, it should seize this opportunity to resolve its conflicts, integrate the region’s economy, and address issues of common interest.

In the U.N.’s history, Ethiopia has represented the African bloc three times. Due to the African Group’s established mechanism of rotation among five sub-regions, elections for the African seats tend to be uncontested, as was the case with Ethiopia for the position of Eastern African representative. Even though it secured overwhelming support from 185 of the 193 U.N. member states, five countries, including Eritrea and Egypt, voted against it.

Ethiopia has been in conflict with neighboring Eritrea since 1998 because of a territorial disagreement. After the war between the two countries ended in 2000, the U.N.-established Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission ruled that Badme, the pivotal town in the border dispute, belonged to Eritrea. Ethiopia, however, has yet to comply with the ruling. Because of this unresolved issue, relations between the two countries have remained tense, with each spending tremendous amounts of money to stay on high alert and stifling the flow of goods and services across their shared border. Additionally, they have been accused of fighting a proxy war in Somalia by providing arms to opposing sides. Today, the Eritrea-Ethiopia dispute is one of the main reasons for the region’s instability and laggard development. Governments have focused on defense spending in response to this volatility, ignoring vital infrastructure and education programs, and thus causing capital and resources to flee the region.

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