The Executive Secretary

IGAD Executive secretary speech

Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD)
IGAD Executive Secretary


Prior to being the Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia between 2016 and 2019. He was Minister of Transport between 2012 and 2016. Dr Workneh has had a long career in the Civil Service in the Oromia Region of Ethiopia where he served in the Administration and the Security.

He was born in 1970 in the town of Shashamane in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Dr. Workneh studied at Addis Ababa University where he obtained a Bachelor and Masters degree in International Relations. He holds a PhD in Criminology from the University of South Africa (Unisa) in Pretoria. Dr Workneh is married and a father of three.

Office of the Executive Secretary

The Office of the IGAD Executive Secretary (ES) is well regarded and highly placed in the hierarchy of the regional organization. According to the Agreement Establishing IGAD (the Agreement), the holder of this office is described as the chief executive officer of the organization and acts as its bona fide spokesman.

Indeed, Article 3 of the Agreement points out, in part that IGAD shall, in the exercise of its legal personality, be represented by the ES. He shall act in the aforementioned capacities and perform “such other functions as are entrusted” to him by the Summit of the IGAD Heads of State and Government, and the Council of Ministers as clearly stipulated in the terms of reference.

The Agreement further empowers the ES to “bring to the attention of the Summit and Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of regional peace and security”. In addition, the Agreement also defines the powers of the office and grants its occupant considerable scope for action. The day-to-day work of the ES includes managing the daily affairs of the IGAD Secretariat, consulting with government officials of IGAD Member States and representatives of development partners, as well as representing IGAD at various international and regional forums. One of the most critical roles that he plays using his office and authority is to prevent regional disputes from arising, escalating, or spreading.

This is often done publicly and in private, drawing upon his independence, impartiality, and integrity. Furthermore, the ES is charged with the responsibility of advocating and building the image of the organization and the region. The office bearer travels worldwide to mobilize necessary resources to run the organization’s programmes and to keep the leadership and the people of the region informed about the vast array of issues of concern that are on the organization’s agenda at any given time.

Each year, the ES produces a detailed annual report that documents results of its activities/projects and programmes and outlines future priorities.Hence, the overall duties and responsibilities of the office bearer can be summed up to include, providing strategic leadership within the mandate of IGAD, as well as to the senior management team and staff so as to build and sustain the organization’s role as a key regional player in peace and security, economic cooperation and integration, trade and development activities.The current ES, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu is the sixth since the organization was established in 1986. A national of Ethiopia, he took over from Amb. Mahboub Maalim in November 2019.

IGAD Structure

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development is comprised of four hierarchical policy organs as shown in the Figure 1 below:

  • THE ASSEMBLY OF HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT is the supreme policy making and regulatory organ of the IGAD. It determines the objectives, guidelines and programmes for IGAD and meets once a year. A Chairman is elected from the Member States in rotation.
  • THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS is composed of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and one other Focal Minister designated by each member state. The Council formulates policy, approves the work programme and annual budget of the Secretariat during its biannual sessions.
  • THE COMMITTEE OF AMBASSADORS is comprised of IGAD Member States’ Ambassadors or Plenipotentiaries accredited to the country of IGAD Headquarters. It convenes as often as the need arises to advise and guide the Executive Secretary.
  • THE SECRETARIAT is headed by an Executive Secretary appointed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a term of four years, renewable once. The Secretariat assists Member States in formulating regional projects in the priority areas, facilitates the coordination and harmonisation of development policies, mobilises resources to implement regional projects and programmes approved by the Council and reinforces national infrastructures necessary for implementing regional projects and policies.

The Executive Secretary is assisted by Divisions responsible for:

  • Agriculture and Environment;
  • Economic Cooperation and Regional Integration;
  • Health Social Development;
  • Peace and Security;
  • Administration and Finance; and
  • Planning Coordination and Partnerships

Besides the mentioned Divisions at the Headquarters in Djibouti, IGAD has a number of specialized institutions and Programmes hosted by other Member States. These include the IGAD Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), the IGAD Security Sector Programme (ISSP), the IGAD Centre for Pastoral Area and Livestock Development (ICPALD) and IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center (ICPAC), and the IGAD Regional Aids Programme (IRAPP).

Read More
Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu - Ethiopia (2019 - Present)
Amb (Eng) Mahboub M. Maalim - Kenya (2008 - 2019)
Dr. Attalla Hamad Bashir - Sudan (2000 - 2008)
Dr. Tekeste Ghebray - Eritrea (1996 - 2000)
Dr. David Muduuli - Uganda (1991 - 1996)
Dr. Mekonnen Kibret - Ethiopia (1986 - 1990)

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