ESSSWA’s 16th Annual Conference-Opening Speech Her Excellency, Dr. Ergoge Tesfaye, Minster, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA)
Distinguished and Honored Guests
Dear members and partners of ESSSWA
Ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed an honor for me to be with you this morning at the Opening Session of the 16th Annual Conference of the Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers and Anthropologists (ESSSWA). Both as a member of ESSSWA and on behalf of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, I would like to congratulate ESSSWA, its financial sponsors and partners: USAID, UNICEF and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, for making this very timely and important conference that will focus on a thematic area: ‘‘Sociocultural Issues and Practices in Conflict Resolution and Peace Building.”
Though you know it all, it is important to reiterate that ESSSWA is a professional umbrella association of three interlinked and sister disciplines that has been serving its members, vulnerable groups, grass root communities and the wider society for the last 25 years. ESSSWA’s founding members realized the significance of forming a unified and strong professional society than creating three weak and separate associations within the same professional family. The society, in its more than two decades existence, has been doing its level best to increase its professionals’ visibility and enhance their contributions to the country’s development via its training and research activities, social service work force development and social service delivery system strengthening interventions. It is indeed committed to improve the social wellbeing of the Ethiopian people through using knowledge and skills in Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology.
The selection of the thematic area that focuses on peace, stability, sociocultural issues and practices related to indigenous conflict resolution mechanisms for today’s Annual Conference, clearly demonstrates ESSSWA’s and its professionals critical concern and commitment for the wellbeing and security of the Ethiopian people.
As a social anthropologist, I am a strong sympathizer of ESSSWA; I have observed that it strives to contribute for an all-inclusive social development in Ethiopia. It is also important to mention its commendable achievements in social service work force development and social service delivery system strengthening programs that ultimately aims at the livelihood improvements of the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in partnership with government and its dependable donors, the USAID and UNICEF.
Ladies and gentlemen
As you are well aware of, the Federal Democratic Republic Ethiopia has established the Ethiopian Reconciliation Commission in 2018, with the aim to "maintain peace, justice, national unity and consensus and also reconciliation among Ethiopian Peoples.” It is the government’s belief that it is necessary to reconcile the disagreements that developed among peoples of Ethiopia for years because of political, ethnic and religious differences and establish long lasting transitional justice system and sustained peace in the country. To attain this, it is vital to identify and ascertain the nature, cause and dimension of the repeated conflicts and violation of human rights.
In this respect, today’s conference on ‘‘Sociocultural Issues and Practices in Conflict Resolution and Peace Building” is highly appreciated as it complements the government’s current reconciliation and peace building efforts in the country with the aim to prevent the future occurrence of such conflict, narrow the differences and create consensus.
Although there is a great intent and action to work on reconciliations and maintain peace and transitional justice in our country, we do also recognize that much remains to be done in understanding the root causes, perpetrators and the long lasting solutions of the conflicts thus far occurred. The government, non-governmental organizations and professional associations like ESSSWA need to work together for the transformation of conflict toward sustainable peace. The role of ESSSWA is indispensable in this respect, as lack of peace affects the poor, the voiceless, the disadvantages and vulnerable groups and conflict resolution endeavors heavily rest on the well established Ethiopian traditions and indigenous knowledge and practices of nations and nationalities.
It is crystal clear that the government’s effort is not sufficient alone to bringing about sustainable peace and reconciliation given the scarce financial and technical resources as well as the existing weak institutional setups. This justifies the need for professionals’ engagement towards creating sustainable peace and reconciliation trough the establishment of transitional justice system. In all these efforts of translating the noble idea of peace building into practice, the three interlinked professions of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology would contribute greatly.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In relation to this, I would like to further encourage the Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers and Anthropologists, to continue to be a stronger development partner and play a more proactive role in serving as a platform for linking policy makers, practitioners and the academics serving as knowledge hub, dialogues and actions on reconciliation, peace building and transitional justice system. It is also my conviction that this conference will serve as an important platform to cross-fertilize ideas, promote professional debates and create constructive dialogue among the various stakeholders for the peace efforts of the country. You also need to establish strong partnership with the government and NGO structures that have interest and mandates to support the country’s reconciliations and peace building efforts. This would help leverage ESSSWA’s intention and action in engaging in training and research activities and implementing projects that intend to prevent from and respond to conflict situations in the country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
With this remarks, it is now my pleasure to declare that the 16th Annual Conference of the Ethiopian Society of Sociologists, Social Workers and Anthropologists Association (ESSSWA) is officially open.
I wish you all very successful deliberations.
I thank you.