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PeaceLab Workshop: Drawing lessons on prevention through Early Warning and Early Action in Africa and Europe.

On 30 January 2019, IPSS, in collaboration with the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi) and the German Federal Foreign Office, organized a PeaceLab workshop on “Learning to Prevent: African and European lessons on Early Warning and Early Action”.

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01 February 2019

 

The welcome remarks were given by Prof. Tassew Woldehanna, President of Addis Ababa University and Amb. Ekkehard Brose, Special Envoy on Crisis Prevention and Stabilisation at the German Federal Foreign Office. Dr. Admore KamBudzi, Acting Director, Peace and Security Department of the African Union facilitated the opening session.

 

Prof. Tassew recognized the importance of Addis Ababa University, its history and the role of IPSS as a centre of excellence for peace and security in Africa and beyond. Amb. Brose highlighted the importance of the AU and RECs Early Warning architecture, the growing number of crises around Europe,  which lend particular urgency to a constructive engagement by European countries in crisis prevention. Lastly, Amb. Brose elaborated on the importance of engaging with expert NGOs, policy research institutions and the interested public through innovative formats like the PeaceLab.

 

The workshop was facilitated by Philipp Rotmann, the PeaceLab Project lead and Associate Director at GPPi. He made reference to the history of the PeaceLab-blog, which primarily, encourages open and interactive debate that is both critical and constructive. The workshop participants were divided into four working groups based on their personal and geographical experiences on early warning that translated to early actions. Each group reflected on the following analytical questions:

  1. In our personal experience, what are the successes and failures of key international and civil society actors?
  2. In our personal experience, what were the key challenges to overcome?
  3. Which lessons to learn or good practices to take away for ourselves?
  4. What recommendations to others (AU policy makers, EU, Germany among others) emerge from this analysis?

 

The ‘high-level fishbowl’ discussion was a key highlight of the day, with attendance by special guests: H.E. Dr. Frank- Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany; H.E. Hanna Tetteh, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations Office of the African Union (UNOAU) and Prof. Tassew Woldehanna, the President of Addis Ababa University. The discussion was opened by H.E Dr. Amira El Fadil, Commissioner for Social Affairs, African Union Commission and moderated by Ms. Michelle Ndiaye, Director of the Africa Peace and Security Programme at IPSS and Head of Tana Forum Secretariat.  Discussants included Dr. Admore Kambudzi, Ariane Inkesha, Great Lakes Policy and Programme Officer, and Dr. Solomon Dersso, Commissioner of the African Commission on Human & Peoples' Rights among others. 

 

It was noted that the technical capacity and infrastructure for the delivering of early warning at the AU and RECs is advanced, though at different levels, however, for effective prevention or escalation of conflicts, the analysed information ought to be objectively shared with the PSC.  Other issues discussed include:

  1. The state of peace and security in Africa;
  2. Drawing best practices from West Africa and interventions made in Burkina Faso and Mali;
  3. Local agency inclusion: the recognition of the AU and REC mechanisms CEWs; inclusion of women, in particular, FemWise-Africa; the AU and UN institutional reform process and a CEWs reform;
  4. Need for Capacity building of member states;
  5. Member states commitment;
  6. Continued partnerships and collaborations within the authority of multilateralism.

 

The last segment of the workshop allowed the small groups to share three challenges, two lessons and one recommendation for improved implementation of early warning and early action. The accumulative outcomes from the groups were tallied to a vote based on the priority of issues versus the feasibility of their implementation. The results in the descending order are:

  1. Leverage comparative advantages case by case; 
  2. Do joint analysis/information sharing & coordination, programming;
  3. Adoptive early warning; 
  4. Make EWEA a whole-of - government, cross-department/agency/IO approach;
  5. Resource ownership on the African part;
  6. Ensure clarity on leadership; 
  7. Harmonize AU/RECs political engagement;

 

At the close of the workshop, Ms. Ndiaye shared her recommended priorities. She emphasized the need for an assessment of the structural vulnerability, building efficient institutions, precise decision making, the inclusion of local actors and lastly, the need for mainstreaming the work on peacebuilding through early warning or prevention. Amb. Brose remarked “people are tired of conflict! I, therefore, believe what we are doing in this workshop is important and has a future”. Recognizing the importance of local actors, he described the participants of the PeaceLab as a community of people with a similar outlook and called for close cooperation in order to strengthen prevention which is both a political necessity and a mindset.

 

Dr Kambudsi recognized the establishment of the AU Peace Fund, an indication that Africa is taking strides towards ownership. The budget allocation for the Fund will go towards preventive peace initiatives. Finally, he made recommendations towards innovative and creative ways for engaging member states in conflict prevention, harmonisation of the AU/RECs/RMs early warning methodologies and regular PSC meetings with RECs/RMs.

 

Click here to view photos from the event.

Click here to access the graphics from the tallied vote.

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