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Representatives of Africa defense, diplomacy, regional organizations and development institutions, as well members of the civil society organizations and parliamentarians met, on 23-24 November 2009, at the African Development Bank in Tunis to discuss ways of strengthening regional organizations in dealing with the prevention of violent conflicts on the continent.
The seminar came as a preparatory gathering ahead of a Global Conference of Preventive Action schedule to take place in 2010.
Participants analyzed the role and the functioning of existing African mechanisms at global and regional levels to determine how they can play or have a stronger role in preventing violent crisis.
These mechanisms or institutions include parliaments, the media, civil society organizations, the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the Africa Peer Review Mechanisms, etc. But for this to happen, participants said, the institutions need to be reinforced in their mandate and be given the necessary institutional, legal powers.
Topics of interests also included the management of natural resources, early warning mechanisms, national and regional level decisions, the role of elites in governance and of women.
One of the areas that need greater attention, some participants said is Early warning that should be linked to early action. But, “how early is early warning?”, they asked. The role of the media in crisis prevention was also raised. “The media can impact positively or negatively; and the issue is not about suppressing news organizations. It is about providing them with the right information”, they stated.
On the role of women, the meeting urged for the voices of women to be heard in crisis prevention and management. “We should come up with a clear picture of the role of women in peace building. Women are part of conflicts and there are rebel women as well. However, when it comes to negotiation they are left out”, some participants said.
The meeting was organized by the East West Institute and co-hosted by the Fragile States Unit (OSFU) and the Research Department (EDRE) of the African Development Bank.
It saw the participation of institutions such as the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (Washington, DC), The Institute for Security Studies (South Africa), the East African Community Secretariat, The UPEACE Africa Program (Ethiopia), SWOFOD (Sudan), NPI-Africa (Kenya), OECD DAC INCAF, Search for Common Ground (Morocco), East West Institute (Belgium), the African Union, the Mano River Union, the NEPAD, the AFDB, Accord (South Africa), and parliamentarians and academics.