Coordinating international responses to Ethiopia–Sudan tensions

Research paper ISBN: 978 1 78413 566 9 DOI: 10.55317/9781784135669
Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed and Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan inspect Sudanese military personnel in full dress uniform

Jonas Horner

Former deputy director, Horn of Africa, International Crisis Group

Political transitions in Ethiopia and Sudan offered the promise of more democratic, civilian-led government and increased regional stability in the Horn of Africa. But contestation between old and new political forces has disrupted both transitions since 2020. Meanwhile, relations between the two countries have been characterized by growing discord over cross-border issues, including the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the disputed territory of Al Fashaga and the war in northern Ethiopia. These bilateral tensions and domestic crises threaten to undermine security and development across the region.

This paper assesses the domestic contexts in Ethiopia and Sudan and the contentious cross-border issues that are damaging relations. It also details the range of regional and international interventions to date. The paper concludes with recommendations on how international stakeholders can coordinate responses to support political transition, and achieve stability for both countries and the region.