From Security Provider to a Security Risk?

The Abrupt Withdrawal of Ethiopia’s a Decade-Long Peacekeeping Mission in UNISFA

  • Sigatu Kaleab Tadesse
doi: 10.32563/hsz.2022.4.5


This paper aims to offer an overview of a unique and decade-long Ethiopian peacekeeping deployment in Abyei, where Ethiopian contingents comprise almost the entire force, where the deployment ended in an ungraceful manner because of disapproval from the government of Sudan. The paper reveals that the Tigray conflict which resulted in the desertion of the Ethiopian peacekeepers and Egyptian pressure on Sudan because of the GERD have contributed to the withdrawal of Ethiopian peacekeepers and the Ethiopia–Sudan border dispute brought a dark shadow on their relations in addition to the disruption of the peacekeeping deployment. The paper concludes that unless Ethiopia makes a progress on internal stability and reboots its relations with its neighbours, Ethiopia’s role as a peace mediator and peacekeeper in the region becomes an ignominy.


Abyei Ethiopia peacekeeping South Sudan Sudan UNISFA


Aalen, Lovise: Ethiopian State Support to Insurgency in Southern Sudan from 1962 to 1983: Local, Regional and Global Connections. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 8, no. 4 (2014). 626–641. Online:

Abraham, Kinfe: The Horn of Africa: Conflicts and Conflict Mediation in the Greater Horn of Africa. Addis Ababa, EIIPD and HADAD, 2006.

Addis Standard: Ethio–Sudan border dispute: Manageable or time bomb? Addis Standard, 20 May 2022a. Online:

Addis Standard: UN agrees to replace Ethiopian forces within UNISFA: Sudan. Addis Standard, 20 January 2022b. Online:

African Union: Cessation of Hostilities Agreement between the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF). African Union – Peace and Security Department, 02 November 2022. Online:

African Union: Peace and Security Council 301st Meeting: Communiqué. AU Peace and Security Council, 30 November 2011. Online:

Africa News: Ethiopia again denies killing seven Sudanese soldiers at disputed border area. Africa News, 01 July 2022. Online:

Al Jazeera: South Sudan rebel chief meets President Kiir in Ethiopia. Al Jazeera, 20 June 2018. Online:

Al Jazeera: Sudan recalls envoy to Ethiopia after execution of seven soldiers. Al Jazeera, 27 June 2022a. Online:

Al Jazeera: Ethiopian PM says agreed with Sudan’s al-Burhan to settle dispute. Al Jazeera, 5 July 2022b. Online:

Al Jazeera: Sudan denies occupying Ethiopian territory in contested region. Al Jazeera, 28 January 2021a. Online:

Al Jazeera: Rising tension as Ethiopia and Sudan deadlocked on border dispute. Al Jazeera, 1 February 2021b. Online:

Al Jazeera: Sudan military says several soldiers killed in Ethiopian attack. Al Jazeera, 28 November 2021c. Online:

Alemu, Tekeda: The Conundrum of Present Ethiopian Foreign Policy. In Search of a Roadmap for Ethiopia’s Foreign and National Security Policy and Strategy. CDRC, January 2019.

Amani Africa: Briefing on the Situation in Abyei. Amani Africa, 29 September 2022. Online:

Anderson, David M. – Adrian J. Browne: The Politics of Oil in Eastern Africa. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 5, no. 2 (2011). 369–410. Online:

Anna, Cara: ‘Clean out our insides’: Ethiopia detains Tigrayans amid war. The Associated Press, 29 April 2021. Online:

Arab News: Sudan demands expulsion of Ethiopians from Abyei UN peacekeeping forces. Arab News, 07 April 2021. Online:

BBC: Ethiopian former UN peacekeepers seek asylum in Sudan. BBC, 10 May 2021. Online:

Bereketeab, Redie: Introduction. In Redie Bereketeab (ed.): The Horn of Africa. Intra-State and Inter-State Conflicts and Security. London, Pluto Press, 2013.

Beyene, Abdeta D. – Seyoum Mesfin: The Practicalities of Living with Failed States. Dædalus, 147, no. 1 (2018). 128–140. Online:

Buzan, Barry – Ole Wæver: Regions and Powers. The Structure of International Security. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003. Online:

Clapham, Christopher: The Horn of Africa. State Formation and Decay. London, Hurst & Company, 2017.

Crook, John R.: Introductory Note to the Government of Sudan and the South Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army Abyei Arbitration Award. International Legal Materials, 48, no. 6 (2009). 1254–1257. Online:

Dawkins, Sophia L. R. – Bart L. Smit Duijzentkunst: Stable and Final? Arbitration of Land Boundary Disputes in Cases of State Secession. Proceedings of the ASIL Annual Meeting, 106 (2012). 143–146. Online:

Deng, Francis: The Man Called Deng Majok. A Biography of Power, Polygyny, and Change. New Jersey, Yale University Press, 1986.

Deng, Luka B.: Justice in Sudan: Will the Award of the International Abyei Arbitration Tribunal Be Honoured? Journal of Eastern African Studies, 4, no. 2 (2010). 298–313. Online:

Donelli, Federico. The al-Fashaga dispute: a powder keg in the heart of the Horn of Africa. Trends Research and Advisory, 4 March 2022. Online:

Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C.: MoFA Condemns Sudan’s Claim over Benshangul Gumuz Region. 04 May 2021. Online:

Ethiopian Monitor: Abiy and Al-Burhan Discuss Bilateral, Regional Issues. Ethiopian Monitor, 15 October 2022. Online:

FBC: The Ministry of Defence Gave an Explanation Regarding Some Army Members Deployed in the International Peacekeeping Mission Who Did Not Return Home. Fana Broadcasting Cooperation, 27 April 2022. Translation from Amharic by the author. Online:

Houreld, Katharine: Ethiopia says disarms Tigrayan peacekeepers in Somalia over security. Reuters, 18 November 2020. Online:

Johnson, Douglas H.: Why Abyei Matters. The Breaking Point of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement? African Affairs, 107, no. 426 (2008). 1–19. Online:

Malito, Debora V.: The Persistence of State Disintegration in Somalia Between Regional and Global Intervention. Doctoral Thesis. Università degli studi di Milano, 2013.

Marks, Simon – Mohammed Alamin: Ex-UN Peacekeepers Battle for Control of Key Ethiopian Town. Bloomberg, 02 September 2022. Online:

Mbaku, J. Mukum: The Controversy over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Brookings, 05 August 2020. Online:

Mehari, Taddele M.: Keeping Peace in Abyei: The Role and Contributions of Ethiopia. ISS Africa, 28 October 2011. Online:

Mengistu, Molla: Ethio–Sudanese Relations: 1991–2001. A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies of Addis Ababa University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in International Relations, Addis Ababa University, 2002.

Middle East Eye: Sudan launches assault on Ethiopia after alleged executions. Middle East Eye, 28 June 2022. Online:

Ministry of Information – Press and Audiovisual Department: The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy. Addis Ababa, November 2002.

News24: 15 UN peacekeepers from Tigray refuse to return to Ethiopia. News24, 23 February 2021. Online:

OHCHR: International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia Finds Reasonable Grounds to Believe that the Federal Government Has Committed Crimes against Humanity in Tigray Region and that Tigrayan Forces Have Committed Serious Human Rights Abuses, Some Amounting to War Crimes. OHCHR, 22 September 2022. Online:

Osman, Amira A.: Conflict over Scarce Resources and Identity: The Case of Abyei, Sudan. In Ulf Johansson Dahre (ed.): Resources, Peace and Conflict in the Horn of Africa. A Report on the 12th Horn of Africa Conference. Lund, Sweden, 23–25 August 2013. 249–263.

Osterrieder, Holger – Johannes Lehne – Vladimir Kmec: United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). In Joachim A. Koops – Thierry Tardy – Norrie MacQueen – Paul D. Williams (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017. Online:

Ottaway, Marina – Amr Hamzawy: The Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 04 January 2011. Online:

Permanent Mission of Albania to the UN: Remarks by the Political Coordinator Arian Spasse at the Security Council meeting on Sudan and South Sudan. Permanent Mission of Albania to the UN, 21 April 2022. Online:

Prendergast, John – Brian Adeba: Abyei: Sudan and South Sudan’s New Chance to Solve Old Disputes. African Arguments, 21 October 2019. Online:

Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Effort and Activities of the African Union

High Level Implementation Panel on Sudan (AU doc. PSC/PR/CCCI, 30 November 2011).

Ronen, Yehudit: Ethiopia’s Involvement in the Sudanese Civil War: Was It as Significant as Khartoum Claimed? Northeast African Studies, 9, no. 1 (2002). 103–126. Online:

Saied, Mohamed: Egypt deepens military ties with Sudan as Ethiopia moves forward with Nile dam. Al-Monitor, 22 March 2022. Online:

Sarwar, Nadia: Post-Independence South Sudan: An Era of Hope and Challenges. Strategic Studies, 32, nos. 2–3 (2012). 172–182.

Shinn, David H.: Government and Politics. In LaVerle Berry (ed.): Sudan. A Country Study. Washington, D.C., Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 2015.

Sigatu, Kaleab T.: Military Power as Foreign Policy Instrument: Post-1991 Ethiopian Peace Support Operations in the Horn of Africa. PhD Dissertation in Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Military Sciences. Budapest, University of Public Service, Doctoral School of Military Sciences, 2021. Online:

Sudan Tribune: Ethiopia maintains “neutral position” toward Sudan – South Sudan dispute. Sudan Tribune, 19 September 2012. Online:

Sudan Tribune: Egypt is always associated with Nile dam discussions between Ethiopia and Sudan: Ghandour. Sudan Tribune, 16 August 2017. Online:

Sudan Tribune: 528 Tigrayan peacekeepers in Abyei refuse to return to Ethiopia. Sudan Tribune, 24 April 2022a. Online:

Sudan Tribune: UNISFA, SSPDF reopen Twic–Abyei movement after closure. Sudan Tribune, 01 June 2022b. Online:

Sudan Tribune: Sudan grants asylum to over 200 Ethiopian ex-UN peacekeepers. Sudan Tribune, 02 September 2022c. Online:

Takpiny, Benjamin: Ethiopian peacekeepers in S.Sudan resist going home. Anadolu Agency, 23 February 2021. Online:

Tekle, Tesfa-Alem: Sudan’s Bashir Supports Ethiopia’s Nile Dam Project. Sudan Tribune, 5 April 2012. Online:

The Defense Post: Sudan Army Chief Visits Border Area after Ambush Blamed on Ethiopia. The Defense Post, 18 December 2020. Online:

The Irish Times: Ethiopian PM tries to mediate Sudan’s political crisis after bloodshed. The Irish Times, 7 June 2019. Online:

Tir, Jaroslav: Keeping the Peace after Secession: Territorial Conflicts between Rump and Secessionist States. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49, no. 5 (2005). 713–741. Online:

UN General Assembly: Summary Study of the Experience Derived from the Establishment and Operation of the United Nations Emergency Force. Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. A/3943, October 9, 1958, para. 60.

UN Security Council: Resolution 1990 (2011). United Nations, 27 June 2011. Online:

UN Security Council: Resolution 2104 (2013). United Nations, 29 May 2013. Online:

UN Security Council: Resolution 2416 (2018). United Nations, 15 May 2018. Online:

United Nations: Fatalities. United Nations Peacekeeping, 2022. Online:

United Nations: Troop and Police Contributors. United Nations, December 2018. Online: police-contributors

United Nations: UNMISS Factsheet. United Nations, 10 June 2022. Online:

University of Pennsylvania – African Studies Center: Ethiopia–Sudan: Joint Communiqué.

University of Pennsylvania – African Studies Center, 19 November 1999. Online:

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations: Chairman Menendez Calls on UN to Prohibit Ethiopian Troops in Tigray from Serving as Peacekeepers. U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 06 July 2021. Online:

Verjee, Aly: The Crisis of Ethiopian Foreign Relations. ACCORD, 24 August 2021. Online:

Wheeler, Kevin G. – Mohammed Basheer – Zelalem T. Mekonnen – Sami O. Eltoum – Azeb Mersha – Gamal M. Abdo – Edith A. Zagona – Jim W. Hall – Simon J. Dadson: Cooperative Filling Approaches for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. Water International, 41, no. 4 (2016). 611–634. Online:

Williams, Paul D. – Thong Nguyen: Neighborhood Dynamics in UN Peacekeeping Operations, 1990–2017. International Peace Institute, 11 April 2018. Online:

Winter, Roger – John Prendergast: Abeyi: Sudan’s ‘Kashmir’. American Progress, 29 January 2008. Online:

Woldemichael, Shewit: Ethiopia–Sudan border tensions must be de-escalated. ISS Africa, 10 May 2021. Online:

Yihun, Belete B.: Setit-Humera: A Blister on Ethio–Sudanese Boundary Disputation. Journal of Borderlands Studies, 31, no. 1 (2016). 107 122. Online:

Young, John: Conflict and Cooperation: Transitions in Modern Ethiopian–Sudanese Relations. HSBA Briefing Paper, May 2020.


Letölthető adat még nem áll rendelkezésre.