The main objective of the tour was to provide IPSS and AU staff with the opportunity to exchange and interact with German experts from think tanks and research institutions working on various topics within the peace and security arena, such as conflict prevention, early warning and mediation.
From 1-8 June 2019, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), invited representatives from its two long-term partner institutions, IPSS and the African Union Peace and Security Department (AU-PSD), to take part in a five-day study visit to Germany.
The main objective of the tour was to provide IPSS and AU staff with the opportunity to exchange and interact with German experts from think tanks and research institutions working on various topics within the peace and security arena, such as conflict prevention, early warning and mediation. Through the engagements, it was anticipated that participants gain important insights into the roles, impacts, work modalities and funding mechanisms of research and policy institutions in Germany while sharing experiences and good practices from their own work. Further, the measure aimed at strengthening the ties between GIZ and its partners as well as promoting institutional and individual relationships between IPSS and the AU.
During the week, the delegates visited 12 institutions in Berlin, Eschborn, Frankfurt and Bonn. These included: BMZ and the German Federal Foreign Office (AA), the Berghof Foundation, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES), the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF), the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK), the GIZ headquarters, and the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF). Moreover, they exchanged with experts at the German Development Institute (DIE), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV), and the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC).
IPSS was represented by eight personnel from different units such as research, training, academia, and institutional development, while the AU was represented by two senior-level staff from its Conflict Prevention and Early Warning Division (CEWS). The delegation, which equally comprised of women and men, was led by Shewit H. Desta, Conflict Early Warning and Preventive Diplomacy Officer at CEWS and Dr. Yonas Adaye Adeto, Director of IPSS.
The tour enabled both delegates and hosts to openly exchange views and perspectives in a mutually beneficial setting and to also engage in networking. Participants echoed the need to support research and dialogue towards coherent and harmonized efforts centred on promoting African solutions to the continent’s pressing problems. The visits to the Foreign Ministry, BMZ and GIZ contributed to a better understanding of German foreign and development policy-making vis-à-vis Africa and the AU, as well as GIZ’s specific role and function as an implementing agency. Finally, the technical exchanges were accompanied by several cultural activities that offered insights into Germany’s history and socio-cultural set-up and how they shape its policies and priorities.
Participants expressed the effectiveness of the study tour in promoting cross-cultural peer-to-peer exchanges as well as in providing learning and networking opportunities. As a means of making the measure more sustainable, the delegates suggested it would be beneficial to repeat the exercise and to possibly focus on a South-South exchange.
Shortly after the conclusion of the study tour, two formal partnerships were concluded between IPSS and DIE as well as between IPSS and PRIF in the form of Memoranda of Understanding. Along with overall institutional partnerships such as these, the different meetings led to the formulation of several concrete ideas for specific cooperative projects or activities such as a data analysis workshop on the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).