Abiy Ahmed: the Ethiopian Leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize


In April 2018, Ethiopia got a new Prime Minister: Abiy Ahmed. He has caused a lot of changes in Ethiopia. He has particularly improved the human rights of people living in and around Ethiopia. He is the leader of the Oromo People’s Democratic Party. In this role, he has represented the interests of the Oromo people, who have long felt neglected.


He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2019 for his work. The Nobel Peace Prize is one of five Nobel Prizes established in 1901. The Peace Prize is awarded to someone who has improved relations between nations and encouraged peace. Prime Minister Ahmed was awarded it for his attempts to bring “peace and international cooperation”.

Ahmed ended the state of war with Eritrea on 9 July 2019. He achieved this by giving up land which the two nations both claim is theirs. By granting Eritrea this land, Ahmed has allowed peace and improved relations with Eritrea. Ethiopia had been in conflict with Eritrea for a long time, so this is considered a positive change. Achieving peace is fundamental for human rights because we have a human right to national and international peace. But peace also improves people’s human rights to life, to good health and mental health, and to liberty and security. This is because war can be a major cause of death and injury, and generally reduces people’s ability to be free and feel safe. But war has more far-reaching effects as well. Because national resources are often prioritised for war, human rights suffer. Education, freedom of movement and the right to expression are also limited. This is because they are not the priorities during a state of war.


As well as this, Ahmed has improved Ethiopian human rights directly. Soon after taking power, he released tens of thousands of political prisoners. Political prisoners are people who are arrested for their political views. This is a form of oppression, and violates the human right to freedom of expression and of political views. It also violates the human rights to only be arrested for genuine reasons, and to a fair trial. As well as this, the former Prime Minister held these prisoners in terrible conditions. This violates our human right to dignity (not to undergo cruel punishment).

Ahmed has also started to change laws which repressed freedom of speech. In particular, he has made sure that the media is not only owned by the state. He has also initiated changes to laws which stopped human rights monitoring. Both of these will definitely have a positive effect on Ethiopian human rights. Now, free speech should be upheld better, and there should be more awareness about human rights violations.

He has also improved human rights for women. Noticeably, half of ministerial roles were given to women in October 2018. This should allow women to be represented better. Women are more likely to take into account rights which only apply to women, or which apply to women more than men. As a result, having women in half of ministerial roles should improve their human rights.


Although he has done a lot of good, there are still lots of ethnic conflicts. After lifting tight governmental control, violence has broken out. This has forced 2.5 million people to leave their homes. Ahmed has responded by making these displaced people return to their home areas where they do not feel safe. This is undermining both their human rights to security and freedom of movement within borders. And the border conflict with Eritrea is not entirely resolved. The border remains shut and it has not been precisely defined, meaning that fleeing Eritreans remain unable to escape.


The new Prime Minister has introduced lots of positive change. It is a good sign for the future, but it is not yet enough. Hopefully, this will continue and will encourage change in Eritrea and other countries where reforms are still needed.

Image via CNN



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