Category Archives: Africa

Toumodi, Ivory Coast: Community leaders trained in the culture of peace

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from Abidjan.net

Heads of village, community and associations of women and young people of the department of Toumodi participated, Wednesday, September 1, 2021, in an awareness-raising workshop on the culture of peace and living together initiated by the National Program for Social Cohesion (PNCS).


© AIP By DR (Click on image to enlarge)

Questions related to this article:

How should elections be organized in a true democracy?

“For us, it is about sensitizing communities to the culture of living together in order to contribute to the consolidation of peace through the establishment of community income-generating activities”, explained the director general of the PNCS, Arsène Kouassi.

Toumodi is one of the six localities in the country chosen to host these workshops, because of the violence that punctuated the last presidential elections there. “Toumodi has had difficult times, but tensions have eased now. This workshop will help us build trust between populations,” explained the third deputy mayor, Célestin Sialou.

(Click here for the original French version of this article.)

Chad: Ouaddai Youth Debate on Culture of Peace and Civic Engagement

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Hambali Nassour/Abba Issa in Al Wihda

The awareness-raising project on the culture of peace and civic and electoral engagement, led by the Youth Star Association for Culture and Development, organized on September 4 a forum for discussion on the culture of peace.

Question related to this article:
 
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

The one-day event brought together representatives of young people from the city of Abéché. Placed under the theme of “the engagement of a culture of peace among youth”, the meeting allowed young people to share their ideas.

Panelist Saleh Souloum invited young people to have a spirit of national unity, to show love and social cohesion in order to build a better Chad.

He explained that civic and electoral engagement is not just the business of leaders but that it is up to each young person to get involved to make their contribution.

The president of the Abéché Youth Star Association, Hassan Abdoulaye Hassan, gave a brief overview of the achievements of his organization, before discussing the merits of the culture of peace.

(Click here for the original French version of this article)

Involving the African Youth in the Biennale of Luanda

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from UNESCO

From 4 to 8 October 2021, UNESCO, the African Union and the Government of Angola are co-organizing the second edition of the Biennale of Luanda – “Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace”. The afternoon of the first day shall host the Intergenerational Dialogue of leaders and young people, whose central theme to be discussed will be “Cultural and Heritage Diversity of Africa and its Diasporas: Fires of Conflict or Ground of Peace?”

150 young participants from all over the world – particularly focused on the AU countries and the Diaspora – will join the Intergenerational Dialogue online and 10 people shall be participating physically with Ministers in charge of Youth and Culture to debate on the importance of cultural and heritage diversity of Africa and its Diasporas to promote the culture of peace in the continent. 

The youth and leaders shall discuss about the national appropriation of the Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (October 2003), the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (October 2005) and their positive impact on encouraging peaceful. coexistence and interaction of different cultural identities and heritage across  Africa; and, secondly, to question the relationship of young people with their culture and how they build their cultural identity in their relationship to otherness.
 

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Question related to this article:
 
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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In addition to the Intergenerational Dialogue, the 150 youth shall be following and actively participating to the Thematic and Good Practices Forums, focused on the following official themes:

– The contribution of arts, culture and heritage to peace

– Engaging young people as actors of social transformations for conflict prevention and sustainable development
Africa in the face of conflicts, crises, and inequalities

– Harnessing the potential of oceans for sustainable development and peace

An Online Dialogue!

These young people will be selected from among members of National Youth Councils, National Coordinating Bodies of the Pan-African Youth Network for a Culture of Peace (PAYNCOP), The African Union Youth Volunteer Corps, the ICESCO Youth Networks and other youth leaders and organizations, through a call for applications launched on 30 June and completed July 20.

In addition to the 150 selected ones, other young people will also be able to join the activities virtually from wherever they are, as well as trough decentralized participation and by scaling up efforts through digital platforms such as social networks. These are to be facilitated by UNESCO Field Offices, AU Youth Division and  Liaison Offices, National Commissions for UNESCO, ICESCO, ideally in partnership with Universities and Schools, digital campuses of the University Agency of the Francophonie, French Institutes and any other interested structure or entity. 

United Nations: Strengthening women’s meaningful participation in peace processes

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from UN Women

Worldwide, complex conflicts and humanitarian crises continue to ravage communities and hinder the overall well-being and prosperity of societies. Women are often the most impacted by these crises, bearing the brunt of conflict and paying a higher price of the devastation – from increased gender discrimination and violence, to the waning of gender-sensitive structures and programming. Still, they remain largely excluded from participating in peace processes, despite overwhelming evidence showing that women’s involvement in peacebuilding and mediation leads to lasting, positive peace that goes well beyond just the silencing of guns.


Left: Kawkab Al-Thaibani. Right: Odi Lagi. Photos courtesy of each.

Although important strides have been made since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 in 2000, women’s direct participation and representation in formal peace processes continues to be the one area that lags behind in the implementation of the  empowering women leaders to participate in peacebuilding becomes increasingly crucial. Women who participate in peace processes tend to represent broader and more diverse constituencies, ensuring a range of views and interests are represented and peace processes are fully democratized.

Using digital and online tools to foster women’s participation in peacebuilding

Amera Malek is a Syrian activist in the field of Women, Peace and Security and, as the director of MAUJ for Development (previously Radio Souriat), she is familiar with digital technologies and the use of tools to enhance women’s voices and gather support. “We launched our online radio in 2014 as a media initiative and platform that provides a voice for Syrian women, tackling issues affecting them – from honor killings to sexual harassment, and more – and addressing wider societal problems from a gender perspective,” says Malek. “We started out by broadcasting programmes and live talks, bringing together women from all walks of life and taking into account their specific needs and situations.”

As the Syrian conflict went on and power cuts and other disruptions became more frequent, Radio Souriat turned to social media as a new outlet for their activism. “In complex, conflict-afflicted contexts such as the Syrian one, new tools must be deployed to foster participation and mobilize a country-wide support base. On top of our radio work, we’ve taken on producing visual and audio assets for dissemination on social media, which has enabled us to continue to reach out to and engage with communities.”

In June 2020, Radio Souriat changed its name to MAUJ for Development, a community-based, not-for-profit foundation guided by feminist principles. MAUJ works on four strategic programmes: supporting pluralism and community cohesion, promoting women participation in public life, producing gender-sensitive media content, and ensuring sustainable resources. From its headquarters in al-Nabk, MAUJ reaches women across the country and beyond, supporting them to voice their opinions and be informed on issues that directly affect their lives.

While digital tools have created an unprecedented opportunity to democratize peace efforts, making them more transparent and inclusive, some issues remain to be addressed. “We see that women are more likely to participate in online discussions because they can do so anonymously and flexibly, balancing their care burdens,” says Malek. “Yet, we must ensure these methods are underpinned by robust gender analysis. We must continue to leverage the huge potential of digital tools for constituency-building while ensuring that existing discrepancies in accessing digital tools do not further inequalities.”

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Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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Bringing together women civil society actors and political representatives

Kawkab Al-Thaibani is the co-founder of Women4Yemen, a network of women working in media, human rights and civil society, which mobilizes and empowers women to foster peace and achieve stability for Yemen. As part of her work, she has been seeking to close the gap between women’s grassroots initiatives for peace and decision-making spaces.

“Yemeni women are facing huge challenges to access negotiating space and get a seat at the peace table,” says Al-Thaibani. “As the conflict in Yemen continues, women’s representation has decreased quite considerably: for the first time in 20 years, women are absent from the newly formed Cabinet. In this context, it is vital that political leaders expand their constituencies and engage closely with civil society to make sure women’s voices are heard.”

“Yemeni women are the carriers of peace and have been instrumental in leading the country to a more stable and peaceful transition,” she adds. “Yet, we don’t have full legitimacy to support peacemaking initiatives and be involved in the peace process in a meaningful way. More work needs to be done at the government and institutional levels to connect women’s grassroots movements with formal representatives who sit at the decision-making table.”

“While it’s important that representatives build strong civil society constituencies, this per se is not enough. To be credible and for constituencies to be strengthened, politicians must ensure that they represent the interests and views of their communities in peace talks, and that they make themselves accountable for shaping the negotiating agenda, ensuring the requests of women are being dealt with.”

Introducing special temporary measures to increase women’s representation in peacebuilding

Odi Lagi, Program Director of the Network of University Legal Aid Institutions (NULAI), Nigeria, highlights the importance and challenges of gender quotas and other temporary special measures in fostering more gender-inclusive peace processes. “I believe the introduction of quotas as a temporary measure to achieve gender equality in political participation is very much necessary,” says Lagi. “We underestimate the importance for women and girls of seeing women in leadership positions and the power of role-modelling: seeing women in power is the first step toward becoming one. However, quotas also have limitations – their introduction by governments has increasingly become a box-ticking exercise rather than a tool to foster positive change. We need to set a 50/50 benchmark if we truly want to see structural transformation in decision-making spaces.”

In Nigeria, a 30 per cent quota for representation in political processes was introduced in the early 2000s. Since then, women’s participation has been declining and, as conflict escalated, women’s voices have been increasingly ignored. “While instruments like quotas have strong transformative potential, there is also a clear danger that they might restrict greater women’s participation and be used by conflict parties as bargaining chips to appeal to minority and women’s groups, while in fact making little progress in advancing meaningful political inclusion,” adds Lagi.

About the Global Convening

From 7-27 July 2021, UN Women, in partnership with CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, hosted the global convening on “Gender-Inclusive Peace Processes: Strengthening Women’s Meaningful Participation through Constituency Building.” The conference explored good practices and strategies for gender-inclusive constituency building and the links between constituency building and women’s meaningful participation in formal peace processes, with a focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. It was made possible through a long-term collaboration with, and financial support from, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in cooperation with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Visit the conference public dashboard on SparkBlue for more information 

United Nations from the field: Desert artisans in Mali foster dialogue and tolerance

EDUCATION FOR PEACE .

Two articles from the United Nations

Traditional arts and crafts are being used to build peace and dialogue in Mali thanks to the work of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MINUSMA.


MINUSMA/Gema Cortes. Tuareg women artisans produce leather goods as part of a project supported by the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA.

Some 360 artisans based around Menaka, in the far northeast of the West African nation, some of whom fled as refugees to neighbouring Niger, have been encouraged to return to the town’s newly restored House of Artisans to practice a range of traditional crafts, including leatherwork, silver-smithing, sewing and carpentry.

MINUSMA, which supported the restoration, is hoping bringing artisans together from a range of ethnic groups will help to reinforce social cohesion, tolerance and improve security as well as providing much-needed employment.

The Menaka region is experiencing increasing insecurity as a result of attacks by terrorist groups and armed bandits.

* * * *

Using art to promote social cohesion in Mali

A related article from the United Nations

Taking a piece of leather in her hand, Bachira, a Tuareg artisan, starts weaving an ornament that will be sewed onto a new colourful tribal saddle cushion that may end up decorating a home somewhere.

Bachira is an accomplished leather worker. She is among 360 artisans in Mali sponsored by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) to promote social cohesion and dialogue through traditional art.

“When I returned home from exile, the only personal belongings I brought were my knowledge and my hands. This project is helping me to make the most of what I have. It ensures I can cover my family essential needs. I want them to have a better life than mine,” she said.

Bachira Walet Mohamed, a 50-year-old mother-of-eight is from a village close to Menaka, in the far north-east of Mali. She fled her home with her family during the humanitarian crisis following the 2012 conflict. The whole family lived one year in exile in Niger, before returning in 2014.

Only last year did Bachira fully retake her tribal leather work. Thanks to “The House of Artisans’, a regional crafters association, rebuilt and equipped using MINUSMA support. “During those difficult years of violence shaking our town, the workshop was vandalized and as a result it closed down. I didn’t have anything, not even to buy food,” she recalled.

Art to foster dialogue and tolerance

MINUSMA saw the potential to promote peace and dialogue through traditional arts and crafts, thus the idea to restore “The House of Artisans” to its glory, through a Quick Impact Project (QIP). The Menaka ‘House of Artisans” was completely rebuilt and equipped with furniture, machines and tools for artisans working in jewelry, welding, leatherwork, forging metal, carpentry, sewing and wood carving.

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Question for this article:

Do the arts create a basis for a culture of peace?, What is, or should be, their role in our movement?

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The project, under USD$45,000, gave back an economic activity to up to 360 artisans from different ethnics’ groups It even improved the operating environment and enhanced their production and distribution capacities through training.

MINUSMA’s QIP objective is to contribute to the socioeconomic development by improving the income of artisans across the Menaka region, which is experiencing increasing insecurity as a result of attacks by terrorist groups and armed bandits.

According to Adass Ag Abdoul Karim, President of the Union of Artisans and coordinator of the project, art can break barriers and promote tolerance because “the objective to create a space for dialogue, tolerance and peace through art,” he said. “Thereby, reducing unemployment and improving family income of the artisans.”

Metalsmith (left) pictured with Adas Ag Abdoul Karim (right), President of Union of Artisans in Menaka, Mali. Photo: MINUSMA/Gema Cortes

Adass is grateful for MINUSMA’s continuous support to his community and for helping rebuild the confidence in Mali’s well-known craftsmanship. Nevertheless, he underlines the need for young people to be trained, in order to safeguard the ancient traditions of Malian artistry. By doing so, one is both promoting the quality and marketing skills of artisans, particularly those of women and the creation of employment. All leading to peace and stability.

Since 2013, MINUSMA sponsored more than 740 QIPs projects in Mali totalling USD$24 million benefitting over 10 million people. These projects contributed to strengthening social cohesion and security, improving access to basic health care and water, fostering training and education, promoting the use of agro-pastoral resources, creating temporary and long-term employment and supporting cultural heritage.

Providing a crucial lifeline for struggling artisans

While the temperature is reaching its peak in the sandy streets of Menaka, under e blazing sun, several Tuareg jewelers toil away inside the House of Artisans. Most of them are hand-engraving silver pieces homemade tools. This shows how little has changed in the traditional Tuareg jewelry making process.

Alhader Ag Tital is fifty-one-year-old. He is Tuareg, very quiet and a silversmith. He learnt the trade from his grand-parents and parents, becoming a master himself. His quietness ends up when he talks about his participation in this project. “I am very, very, very happy. It’s the first time we have a proper space for working. We now have a safe and operational place, and we are so grateful.”

Despite being the most dangerous active peacekeeping deployment in the world, with so far 158 blue helmets killed by hostiles forces, and dozens more killed by accidents and illness since its creation in 2013, MINUSMA remains committed to help rebuild sustainable peace in this landlocked north-west African nation. This project proves peace and dialogue can be achieve through numerous actions, involving all groups and different communities, and, at the same time promoting livelihoods and empowerment.

Congo and UNESCO to Cultivate Peace in Youth

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Don Verdon Bayeni in Vox

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Civic Education, Employment and Qualifying Training, Hugues Ngouélondélé indicated on August 12 in Brazzaville a capacity building workshop for leaders of juvenile associations will be held to cultivate the culture of peace and non-violence among young people.


(Click on image to enlarge)

“Those who choose to be beneficiaries of this training as agents of awareness of the culture of peace and social cohesion, thus realize their responsibility as citizens to help young people to turn away from negative values, violence and identity withdrawal, ”explained Hugues Ngouélondélé.

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Question related to this article:
 
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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The capacity building workshop on the culture of peace organized by UNESCO and the Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace, in collaboration with the ministry in charge of youth, intends to equip and empower the leaders of youth associations.

“This training should be a moment of strengthening the patriotic spirit at all levels of Congolese society. For the trainees, it will be a question of ensuring the transmission of the lessons received to propote the culture of peace, social cohesion and living together as the theme of all young people”, said Fatoumata Barry Marega, the UNESCO representative in Congo.

After this workshop, the beneficiaries are called upon to pass on the information received to their respective associations as well as to other youth circles and through outreach and media campaigns.

(Click here for the original French version of this article)

Benin: Traditional kings and religious leaders pray for peace in Parakou

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article from l’Agence Benin Presse

The Ecumenical Foundation for Peace in Africa (EFPA), initiated this Saturday in Parakou, a session, during which the traditional kings and religious leaders of several countries of Benin, prayed for peace in Benin and Africa, in the presence political and administrative authorities.

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(Click here for the original French version of this article)

Question related to this article:
 
How can different faiths work together for understanding and harmony?

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“What can we do if we don’t make peace?” Asked Gildas Aïzannon, president of the organizing committee, before inviting everyone to cultivate peace. “Our responsibility is immense in maintaining peace in Benin,” he said.

Inoussa Chabi Zimé and Gilbert Dakè Djokess, respectively mayor of Parakou and president of EFPA, reminded everyone that peace is not an empty word but rather behavior.

“The unfortunate events that occurred during the last presidential election challenge us all,” recalled the mayor of Parakou, before inviting all social groups to promote a culture of lasting peace.

The traditional kings and religious leaders or their representatives have said prayers for the safeguard of peace in Africa in general and in Benin in particular. In their different invocations, they exhorted each other to the sense of forgiveness, of love for one’s neighbor. To do this, they especially invited everyone to have the fear of God.

Cameroon : From a life of violence to a culture of peace

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from the United Nations

A young peace campaigner from Cameroon who turned his back on the violence prevalent in his hometown and became a youth civil society activist, has been telling the United Nations about how he is helping other young people to reject conflict, and take a greater role in building peace in the country.


© UNICEF/Salomon Marie Joseph Beguel
Young people in Cameroon are key to promoting a peaceful culture in the West African country.

Christian Achaleke spoke to the UN ahead of International Youth Day, which is marked annually on August 12th.

“My decision to become a peace activist was influenced by my personal experience. I grew up in a community plagued by violence: it was a way of life. At some point, I came to realize that violence leads us nowhere. I lost some friends and acquaintances, and others were thrown into jail.

I began volunteering in 2007, and this gave me a new perspective built around peace and helping to improve communities. It has been an inspiring, life-changing experience.

As a young person involved in peacebuilding and countering violent extremism, I find myself speaking to my peers. When I go to prisons to speak to other young people, I can show them that there are better ways to respond to the challenges they face than violence and develop solutions to the drivers of conflicts.

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(Click here for a French version of this article.)

Question related to this article:
 
“Put down the gun and take up the pen”, What are some other examples?

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Underestimated youth

However, I would say that our role has been underestimated. Sometimes I feel that communities, leaders and institutions turn a blind eye to what we are doing, even though we are the ones who suffer the most in times of conflict. 

In Cameroon, we have tried to provide young people with the opportunity to engage in local community peacebuilding and peace process initiatives, giving them guidance, mentorship and support. 

We are telling the government, the UN and other organizations that it is a good strategy to involve youth, to give them the skills to take part in mediation and provide a safe space in which they can be a part of the process.

Culture, diversity and heritage are very important to me as a Cameroonian. They should serve as a unifying factor but, because we did not properly harness them, we are facing a violent conflict. 

That is why managing culture, heritage, diversity and our diaspora community is very important for peace, and it is something that we have been trying to practice for a long time.

Values to prevent conflict

To me, a culture of peace is a set of values, lifestyle, morals, and ethics which are developed as a way to prevent conflict or violence and also to engage people towards peaceful and ethical living. 

To create a culture of peace in Africa, young people and women need to be engaged, and at the forefront of the process. It is also important to provide opportunities for people and communities to be able to share experiences and ideas.

Little is being spoken about young people changing the face of the African continent but that does not mean that we are not doing good work. I am calling on heads of States, policy makers, communities and every person of good will, to stand and support young boys and girls, and ensure that they can lead the transformations of their countries, and build the African continent”.

Culture of Peace and the Luanda Biennale

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article from UNESCO (translation by CPNN)

Brief history

Inspired by the Constitution of UNESCO, the definition of the concept of a culture of peace is the culmination of a long process of maturation initiated by the Yamoussoukro Declaration on peace in the minds of men developed at the Congress International on Peace in the Minds of Men, organized jointly in Yamoussoukro (Côte d’Ivoire), from June 26 to July 1, 1989, by the Ivorian Government and UNESCO.


© UNESCO

The reflection on the concept of a culture of peace was further developed at the first International Forum on a Culture of Peace, organized from February 16 to 18, 1994, in San Salvador (El Salvador). The San Salvador Forum defied the basic principles for the development and implementation of national programs for the culture of peace. Between 1993 and 1996, apart from the National Program for a Culture of Peace in El Salvador, national programs were in fact envisaged by the Organization in several countries: Mozambique, Burundi, Kenya, South Africa, Congo, Sudan , Somalia, Philippines, Bosnia, Haiti.

During this period, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted, at its 28th session, the promotion of a culture of peace as an essential guiding objective of the Organization’s Medium-Term Strategy for 1996- 2001. This decision of the General Conference resulted in the implementation of a transdisciplinary project “Towards a culture of peace.” It inspired the objective of the “United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education”, described in the General Assembly resolution 50/173 , in 1996. By this resolution , the concept of a culture of peace was put for the first time on the United Nations agenda.

According to the resolution 52/13 of January 15, 1998 of the UN General Assembly , the culture of peace consists “of values, attitudes and behaviours that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity, that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation and that guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society,”

The United Nations General Assembly then proceeded, the same year, to the proclamation of the “International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Non-violence and of Peace for the Benefit of the Children of the World” (2001-2010) , the adoption in 1999 of the “Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace” and the celebration of the year 2000, the International Year for the Culture of Peace, under the direction of UNESCO.

Among the many activities marking the celebration of the international year for the culture of peace was the publication of the Manifesto 2000 It was the basis for a world campaign in favor of the culture of peace. According to this Manifesto, the culture of peace is a personal commitment to:

(i) “respect the life and dignity of every human being without discrimination or prejudice”;

(ii) “practise active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological, economic and social, in particular towards the most deprived and vulnerable such as children and adolescents”;

(iii) “share my time and material resources in a spirit of generosity to put an end to exclusion, injustice and political and economic oppression”;

(iv) “defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to listening and dialogue without engaging in fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others”;

(v) “promote consumer bhaviour that is responsible and development practices that respect all forms of life and preserve the balance of nature on the planet”;

(vi) “contribute to the development of my community with the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles in order to create together new forms of solidarity. ”

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(Click here for the original French version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

The Luanda Biennale: What is its contribution to a culture of peace in Africa?

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Signed by nearly 76 million people worldwide, the Manifesto 2000 contributed to the creation of a “World Movement for a Culture of Peace” which had been called for in the “Declaration and Program of Action on a Culture of Peace.”

Thirteen years later, for the Africa region, the call for the creation of a “continental and sustainable movement for peace” was included in the “Action plan for a culture of peace in Africa / Agissons for peace “. This plan was adopted at the end of the Pan-African Forum “Sources and Resources for a Culture of Peace” , organized jointly with the Angolan Government and the African Union, in Luanda, from March 26 to 28, 2013.

The objective of the forum in 2013 was “to rely on the sources of inspiration and on the potential of the continent’s cultural, natural and human resources to identify avenues and concrete actions to build a lasting peace as the cornerstone of endogenous development and pan-Africanism.” In this context, the decision was taken to create a Biennial of the culture of peace.

As a follow-up to the call for the creation of a “continental and sustainable movement for peace”, several networks of African and Diaspora civil society organizations were created under the aegis of UNESCO and the AU, with the support of a certain number of Member States,:

1. In September 2013: the “Network of Foundations and Research Institutions for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace in Africa.” ​​It now includes more than 50 organizations, including UNESCO Chairs. The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation for Peace Research is in charge of the permanent secretariat of the network and its head office is therefore based in Côte d’Ivoire, more precisely in Yamoussoukro.

2. In December 2014: the “Pan-African Youth Network for the Culture of Peace.” It includes around 60 organizations, including National Youth Councils. The permanent secretariat of this network of young people is hosted by Gabon.

3. In June 2018 the idea of ​​creating a network of research organizations on women and the culture of peace in Africa and in the Diasporas was launched through the creation in Gabon of a national organization aptly named “Pan-African Women’s Network for the Culture of Peace and Sustainable Development.” This was extended in September 2019 through the holding of a women’s forum at the first edition of the Luanda Biennale,.

The Luanda Biennale

Launched in 2019, the Biennale de Luanda – “Pan-African Forum for a Culture of Peace” , aims to strengthen the Pan-African Movement for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence, by setting up:

1. A global platform for cooperation for the development of violence and conflict prevention strategies and the dissemination of initiatives and good practices, with a view to building sustainable peace and development in Africa (Thematic Forums);

2. A space for exchange between the cultural identities of Africa and its Diasporas, a privileged meeting place for the arts, cultures and heritage as instruments of dialogue, mutual understanding and tolerance (Festival of cultures);

3. A multi-actor partnership between governments, civil society, the artistic and scientific community, the private sector and international organizations. A major opportunity to support emblematic programs for Africa by developing on a larger scale projects and initiatives that have proven to be successful at the local, national or sub-regional level (Alliance of partners for the culture of peace in Africa).

The second edition of the Luanda Biennale will take place between October 4 and 8, 2021

Bibliography:

Adams (David), Early history of the culture of peace

Prera-Flores (Anaisabel) and Vermeren (Patrice), Philosophy of culture of culture, Paris, Editions L’Harmattan, 2001

Tindy-Poaty (Juste Joris), The culture of peace: an African inspiration, Paris, Editions L’Harmattan, 2020

The arrival of the first peace fellows at the new peace center in Kampala, Uganda, heralds the beginning of a new era for Rotary and the continent

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

Excerpts from an article by Jeff Ruby on the website of Rotary (abridged)

In the last week of February, in Kampala, Uganda, 15 Rotary Peace Fellows gathered at Makerere University for the inaugural session of Rotary International’s new peace center. Among them, the peace center’s first cohort represented 11 countries and spoke, in addition to English, a dozen African languages, including Luganda, Swahili, and Zulu. “Coming from diverse backgrounds, and yet with a shared desire for peace in Africa, they are the epitome of unity in diversity,” said Anne Nkutu, a member of the Rotary Club of Kampala Naalya and the host area coordinator for the Makerere University peace center.


Photography by Tobin Jones

With an average age of 40 when they were admitted to the program, the fellows are not novice peacemakers. These are established professionals with a minimum of five years of experience in peace and development. They arrived at Makerere University — home to an established program in peace and conflict studies — already working on an initiative, or with an idea for one, that promotes peace or social change within their workplace or community. “The fellows are more interested in the practical side of peacebuilding,” said Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala, the director of the peace center. “They want to see how things are done, as opposed to our regular students, who are more interested in the theoretical aspects. So the fellows come off as, and indeed are, change agents.”

Prior to arriving at Makerere, the peace fellows began their studies with a two-week online session, the first stage in Rotary’s new yearlong certificate program in peacebuilding, conflict transformation, and development. (The peace center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, which previously offered a three-month version of the certificate program, has also adopted this new model.) Following the 10-week session in Kampala, they will return home to begin implementing their social change initiatives, checking in periodically with their instructors and fellow students. They will return to Makerere in early 2022 to complete the program.

Earlier this year, as they prepared to depart for Kampala, Rotary magazine spoke with six of the peace fellows via Zoom and WhatsApp. The conversations were a crash course in African history and politics. They were also an inspiration, offering a glimpse of the possibilities that lie ahead for Africa once these peace fellows — and those to follow in the years ahead — complete their studies at Makerere and disperse across the continent to share what they have learned.

The 10-week session in Kampala “enabled the peace fellows to network and share experiences in and out of class,” says Helen Nambalirwa Nkabala, the peace center’s director.

Patience Rusare

. . . . As a journalist in Zimbabwe, Patience Rusare used her reporting to help shape public policy toward just and equitable ends . . . . Rusare is an editor and a senior political journalist for The Patriot, a newspaper based in Harare. In 2013, after years of writing business stories, she changed her focus. She began covering conflicts, whether political crises in Lesotho and Mali in 2014 and 2015, hostile Ugandan elections in 2016, or a coup d’état in her native Zimbabwe in 2017, often tracing underlying issues back decades to explain the current climate.

“People were not making informed decisions,” Rusare says. “And that lack of information can make people desperate and easy to manipulate.” As she wrote in an unbiased manner, she began to see a direct correlation between the information in her stories and public policy. In Lesotho, Rusare says, mediation from a Botswana-based intragovernmental organization called the Southern African Development Community led to a resolution that was influenced by a story that she had written for The Patriot. “I feel like I really made positive change in the world there,” she says. “They have some lasting peace in Lesotho.”

I want my children to grow up in an environment where all people love each other regardless of the ethnic groups they belong to. They will know that we are all diverse, but we are all one. . . .

Peter Pal

. . . .As a community educator for the Victorian Electoral Commission in southeastern Australia, Pal is trained in peacebuilding and diplomacy. “The electoral process is critical for good government, for choosing the right leadership and learning to exercise democracy,” he says. “People have the right to make the final decision about what’s right for them.” When he heard about the Rotary Peace Fellowship, he recognized an opportunity to use his skill set on a global level — and take it back to his home country nearly 8,000 miles away.

Now living in Australia, Peter Pal plans to return to South Sudan on a peacebuilding mission. . . .

As part of his social change initiative, Pal plans to engage with professional peacebuilders to explore alternative dispute resolution. Of particular focus is the need to restore dignity for the most vulnerable victims of South Sudan’s continued crisis: mothers and children. “Ignorance continues to dehumanize them in Africa,” Pal says. “Women continue to give birth to children who don’t really flourish. And though they’re not part of the politics, they are the ones who suffer when people die in a reckless war.”

Despite all that Pal has experienced, he remains hopeful. And why not? Twenty years ago, he escaped a violent civil war in Africa, and now he has returned on a peacebuilding mission. “If we are not optimistic, we will all be stuck focusing on what’s in our own hand rather than looking into alternatives that can be applied for the betterment of all society,” he says. “Not just in South Sudan, but for Africa and the world.”

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Question related to this article:
 
Youth initiatives for a culture of peace, How can we ensure they get the attention and funding they deserve?

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Jew Moonde

. . . . For nearly half his life, the Lusaka native has been a consultant with the Zambia Center for Inter-Party Dialogue (ZCID); working with this Lusaka-based NGO, he’s dedicated to building an infrastructure to ensure free and fair elections, whether by meeting with politicians to sensitize them to the gender imbalance or training people on how to manage conflict in the electoral process. After two decades, many of ZCID’s legal reform proposals have been passed into law by parliament.

But getting women involved in the political process is only part of Moonde’s mission. He wants to get the younger generation on board, too. “Politics is predominantly for old folks in Zambia,” says Moonde, who has degrees in psychology and peace and conflict studies. “Unemployed youths are the implementers of violence, and they’re also the victims.” To engage them, ZCID focuses on social media outreach and youth-oriented community radio stations; it also helps young people develop skills that might one day help them find a rewarding career. “If you want change to come, empower people with the knowledge that they have the right to something,” says Moonde.

If all goes as planned during his peace fellowship, Moonde wants to acquire the knowledge to help transform ZCID into a statutory body: a permanent peace structure that provides an official platform for dialogue and mediation in Zambian politics. “I start hearing politicians talking and youths talking, exercising their rights to expression,” says Moonde. “It shows us that what we do has an impact on people. No one will help Zambians unless they do it themselves.”

Paul Mushaho

. . . . After establishing an enterprising Rotaract club in a refugee camp in Uganda, Paul Mushaho now envisions using the skills acquired at Makerere to accomplish even greater things.

Soon, with an assist from the American Refugee Committee (known today as Alight) and Rotary clubs in Uganda and Minnesota, Mushaho was launching his own Rotaract Club in Nakivale. Its members have taught farming and masonry skills, planted trees, established a women’s community center, and delivered blankets and mattresses to people who have taken in orphaned children. “I tell them: All we have given you is a sign of appreciation for all you do in the community,” Mushaho says.

A charismatic 29-year-old, Mushaho has an almost supernatural ability to find ways to help. When he saw that the camp’s elderly population found themselves marginalized, he organized lunches where they could share their experiences as former diplomats, engineers, teachers, and doctors. When he noticed that young refugees of different nationalities weren’t interacting, he helped organize a soccer tournament. More recently, Mushaho’s team made and delivered 14,000 masks and 8,000 bars of soap to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Nakivale. “I see people who are happy, simply by receiving what they are supposed to get,” says Mushaho. “We are creating hope in people who have lost their hope. . . .”

Catherine Baine-Omugisha

. . . . A Kampala attorney specializing in conflict resolution, Catherine Baine-Omugisha wants to focus on the prevention of domestic violence.

With her composed demeanor and pragmatic approach, Baine-Omugisha rose through the male-dominated world of law in Uganda, serving as a magistrate, a lecturer, a technical adviser in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, and, currently, a private practitioner with her own consulting firm in Kampala.

. . . .In 2000, while serving as a magistrate at Masaka Chief Magistrate Court in southern Uganda, Baine-Omugisha joined a pilot program called the Chain Linked Initiative; to enhance access to criminal justice, it encouraged collaboration among police, prosecutors, prisons, probation officers, welfare agencies, and the judiciary. The program worked so well that it was rolled out nationwide. . . . .
Now she is hoping her fellowship will enable her to apply that spirit of cooperation on a larger scale. . . . .

Fikiri Nzoyisenga

. . . . . Nzoyisenga survived an unstable childhood that included civil wars in Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo (where he lived for five years), went on to study law, and began volunteering for women’s empowerment organizations. It was only a matter of time before he became a community organizer. Through Spark MicroGrants, he led programs that empowered nearly 3,000 households from more than two dozen villages across Burundi. With Semerera, a team of 14 has assisted more than 8,200 women and girls through socioeconomic initiatives, leadership empowerment, and free legal support to victims of abuse and discrimination. . . . .

After completing his Rotary fellowship, Nzoyisenga plans to expand his work to two more provinces of Burundi, where he will mentor other young people through campaigns around peaceful cohabitation, cohesion, and human rights. “My father taught me tolerance and acceptance, and respecting others no matter their differences,” he says. “In time, we hope more men and women in Burundi will come to understand that things need to change. . . .”

Meet the other Makerere Peace Fellows

Olusina Ajao
Nigeria; security and crisis management

Eleanor Curl
United Kingdom; psychosocial support and trauma treatment

Sunny Dada
Nigeria; conflict transformation and violence prevention

Ronald Kasule
Uganda; disability rights and inclusion advocacy

Pinkie Mothibedi
Botswana; community empowerment and social justice

Stephen Sempande
Uganda; youth protection and social service development

Thomas Sithole
Zimbabwe; media and information literacy

Nobantu Taylor
Liberia; civil society engagement and skill-building

Amina Warsame
Somalia; gender equality and human rights policy