About the Event
Following the first round of general elections, and three years after the beginning of a hopeful transition to a democratic Ethiopia, the country is at a critical juncture. Civil war in Tigray is expanding as insecurity threatens other parts of the country, ethnic and political polarization is increasing, respect for freedom of expression is decreasing, and opposition party leaders and members remain detained. Within this environment, the Ethiopian government is considering holding a national dialogue and discussions of constitutional arrangements. The government’s actions and positions related to each of these challenges will determine the stability and democratic trajectory of the country for years to come.
In a panel discussion, William Davison, Merskerem Geset, and Befekadu Hailu will examine opportunities for dialogue and resolution of political tensions; resolution of conflict; protection of civil and political rights; and democratic reforms.
ABout the Speakers
William Davison is the Senior Analyst for Ethiopia with the International Crisis Group. He was Bloomberg’s Ethiopia correspondent from 2010 until 2017 and has also published in The Guardian, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera, Christian Science Monitor, and other international media. In 2018 he founded Ethiopia Insight, from which he is editorially detached.
Befekadu Hailu is an award-winning writer, blogger, and pro-democracy activist in Ethiopia. He is the co-founder and executive director of NED grantee Center for Advancement of Rights and Democracy (CARD). He was also a co-founder of the Zone 9 Blogging and Activism Collective, a winner of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award in 2015 and four other prestigious awards and recognitions, and worked for different media outlets as an editor and is a weekly opinion columnist for Deutsche Welle (Amharic Service). He received PEN Pinter Prize for International Writer of Courage in 2019 and Burt Award for African Literature in Ethiopia in 2012.
Meskerem Geset is an Ethiopian and international human rights expert, women’s rights advocate, co-founder and board member of Lawyers for Human Rights and TIMRAN, and a former leader of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association. She was recently appointed to serve as the Commissioner for Women and Children’s Rights on the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission and serves as a member of the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls. She previously held positions as a High Court Judge in Ethiopia and Deputy Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA). She has received awards from the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association and DefendDefenders for her human rights work.
Scott Taylor is a Professor in the School of Foreign Service (SFS) at Georgetown University. In 2020, he was appointed Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in SFS. He is the former Director of Georgetown’s African Studies Program, which he led from 2007-2020. Prior to joining the faculty at Georgetown, he held the Gwendolen M. Carter Lectureship in African Politics at Smith College.
Ambassador Reuben Brigety is the Vice Chancellor and President of the University of the South, Sewanee. He is also an adjunct senior fellow for African peace and security issues at the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2015 to 2020, he was dean of the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. From 2013-15, Amb. Brigety served as the United States Ambassador to the African Union and Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Prior to these appointments, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs with responsibility for southern Africa and regional security affairs.
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Header image adapted from photo by VOA photographer Yan Boechat.