African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187

Full Length Research Paper

Conflict and alternative dispute resolution among the Afar pastoralists of Ethiopia

  Kelemework Tafere Reda      
Mekelle University, P. O. Box 175, Mekelle, Ethiopia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 28 March 2011
  •  Published: 30 April 2011



A study was conducted on institutions of conflict resolution in the Northern Afar administration. The main objective was to examine alternative mechanisms of peace-making with a prime focus on informal indigenous structures. An attempt was made to assess such institutions vis-à-vis changing circumstances in the political and socio-economic arena. The paper found out that, following disputes, people seem keen not to prolong hostilities that may eventually divide community members in blood feuds. Thus, elders and community leaders converge to discuss matters pertinent to stability thereby allowing disputes to subside. The Afar have local assemblies through which inter-clan conflicts are sorted out and thoroughly addressed. The local assemblies function as indigenous courts whose rules emanate from shared norms and mutually binding value systems. The traditional institutions maintain symbiotic relations with modern administrative and legal machineries. The prevalence of a complementary rather than competitive relations between the state and traditional system has contributed to the resilience and continued influence of the latter. The paper concludes that while the indigenous system is an efficient means of dealing with conflicts in the study area, an integration of the traditional and modern systems is needed for sustainable peace in the future.


Key words: Conflict, peacemaking, indigenous knowledge, Afar pastoralism, Ethiopia.