The All Africa Peace Conference (AAPC)
4TH - 7TH NOVEMBER 1999
While the world is emerging from the bloody conflicts and violence that have marked the 20th century, Africa remains a theatre of war and a public health museum. These not withstanding conflicts have taken new, intricate and internecine dimensions that require new and innovative approaches if they have to be contained. Many African nations are facing severe tests and challenges of nationhood while at the same time having to contend with extra-national problems. We can no longer sit back and blame colonialism but come together, examine, prescribe and administer medication to the myriad problems that plague the continent today and threaten it the following day. We must develop frameworks for solving these problems. Africa has witnessed perhaps the worst genocide in recent human history. Examples abound from the Great Lakes where both Rwanda and Burundi are still struggling to cope with the effects of genocide. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is currently experiencing a grand civil war which has drawn many nation-states in direct combat. Sierra Leone is emerging from perhaps one of the most barbaric violence of unquantifiable proportions. The south Sudan question and the dynamics of their war of liberation has intolerable consequences. Ethiopia and Eritrea are currently locked in a territorial battle. Somali remains the oldest collapsed state system the world has ever witnessed in recent history. These massacres mark the apex of long drawn internal conflicts and violence in which efficient military hardware has been extensively used. The failure to address the political and social dynamics has led to far reaching effects on civilians who today suffer massively from stocks of war.
The use of industrial weaponry has transformed the outcomes of internal conflicts in many dimensions. Whereas in the past traditional conflicts, which assumed violent dimensions, produced fairly acceptable results, which could be managed, today they tend towards mass extermination. In Africa we are confronted with the problem of landmines, child soldiers, light weapons, hunger and famine, refugees, epidemic disease outbreaks collapsed infrastructure and arms race (including trade and transfers). Worse still we are faced with economic problems - as direct results of war and breakdown of civil order.
Most of Africa's problems are internal and have almost everything to do with the colonial legacy. Many of the neo-colonial states in Africa are less than 50 years old and it can be argued that they are still adjusting to the realities of nationhood. However extra-continental forces greatly impact on almost all of them. Only a few nations are not struggling to implement economic reform programs. Environmental degradation due to industrial and agricultural pressures threatens not only Africa but also the rest of the globe.
Traditionally governments have largely dominated processes of preventing war and building peace but have failed disastrously especially in this role in Africa. The recent cease-fires negotiated in Sierra Leone and DRC seem largely as peace pantomimes. They do not solve the conflicts, which will remain latent within a process of recrudescent violence. They simply address the conflicts vertically without creating horizontal structures upon which to build peace. The governments' response to conflict prevention has been largely military oriented instead of developing early warning systems. NATO bullying has far overshadowed the United Nations and threatens to perpetuate negative neo-colonial influence in Africa. The traditional methods employed by governments to punish "errant" nations have ended up hurting the weak and vulnerable. For example sanctions have starved the poor rather than solve political differences among nations. Peace keeping efforts by the UN missions have produced negative results. In all but few cases, the world's governments have manifestly failed to fulfill their responsibility to prevent conflict, protect civilians, end war and create the conditions of permanent peace. These failures largely invite the civil society to play a crucial role in peace building and conflict prevention. The framework of "New Diplomacy" must be given impetus to take root for it provides the best alternative to achieving best desired results in solving problems of human security.
Governments must be persuaded to accept and be party to the concept of "New Diplomacy" as vehicle through which human security can be ensured. The involvement of the civil society in peace negotiations will go a long way to operationalize peace at grassroots level. This is precisely what the HAP process aims to do globally yet this is more urgent in Africa than in any continent. Part of the HAP agenda for the 21st century states that "Skeptics will say that it cannot be done. The Hague Appeal challenges this assumption. This century has seen unimagined changes. Society now has the means to cure disease, reduce poverty and eliminate starvation. The twentieth century has also seen the creation of a set of universal norms, which, if implemented, will go a long way toward making war unnecessary and impossible. And this century has seen the replacement of authoritarian forms of government by democratic governance, a phenomenon that enables civil society to play a far greater role than heretofore in the affairs of humanity."
As a result, the Hague Appeal proposes a citizens' Agenda for Peace Health and Justice for the 21st Century. This will entail a fundamentally new approach, building on the recent model of New Diplomacy in which citizen advocates, progressive governments and official agencies have worked together for common goals. We will embrace the moral imagination and courage necessary to create a 21st century culture of peace and to develop national and supranational institutions, which ultimately must be the guarantors of peace and justice in this world. It is within this realm that we are taking this bold initiative (AAPC) to welcome the new millennium with a renewed vigor and commitment to work towards peace. The AAPC is a conference with a difference. Other than exploring the intricate issues that affect peace in the continent, it will also provide an opportunity for participants to learn from each other as well acquire skills for negotiating and building peace.
The goal of this conference is to de-legitimize armed conflicts and create a culture of peace for the 21st Century and to provide the participants with the necessary skills for implementing the "New Diplomacy".
The AAPC aims at providing an opportunity to initiate a process of developing a framework to prioritizing peace in Africa in the next millennium. The overall aim is to discuss the various peace building initiatives with a view to defining a greater NGO entry point especially the drive towards influencing the parallel intergovernmental processes at grassroots level. It should also provide the platform for greater debate and discussion on the impediments to peace and development and highlight the various aspects, which need international visibility and cooperative efforts. Overall we seek to develop methodologies for implementing the concept of the "New Diplomacy".
- To bring together representatives of civil societies to develop a frame work to prioritize peace in Africa in the next millennium.
- To discuss the various peace-building initiatives with a view to defining a greater NGO entry point - especially the drive towards influencing the parallel governmental, intergovernmental and international processes.
- To discuss impediments to peace and development and highlight the various aspects which need international visibility and co-operative efforts.
- To provide an opportunity for civil society to define various initiatives for campaign and activism in peace issues in Africa.
- To provide a framework for initiating the process of translating our peace and development ideals into plans of action.
- To provide members of the civil society with skills for influencing inter-governmental (and even UN) processes through training.
- To train members of the civil society on methodologies for conflict prevention and resolution.
- To develop an African perspective and entry point in the global peace campaign.
1. Enhancing human security
2. Prevention, Resolution and Transformation of Violent Conflict:
The All Africa Peace Conference will discuss the various issues that directly and indirectly affect Africa. This track will discuss issues related to demilitarization. Chief among them will be the developing campaigns aimed at re-directing substantial military spending to social and welfare programs in Africa. The track will also explore the possibilities of developing linkages with already existing campaigns as well as capacity building for indigenous campaigns. Campaign issues that have dominated global opinion will be discussed from an African perspective. These will include;
Discussions will center on the proliferation of small (light) arms with a view to implementing grass-roots disarmament campaigns, for a drastic reduction in the trade in small arms. The conference will discuss proliferation of light arms in light of conflict in the Greater Horn of Africa (DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somali). Participants will examine various ways and means by which to monitor arms transfers and identify the major actors in the region. More importantly the participants will discuss capacity building for indigenous NGO's and civil society to actively campaign for arms reduction and related issues. It is envisaged that proceedings will build upon the efforts of IANSA with a view to localizing these efforts and making them operational. The AAPC recognizes the urgent need to demilitarize in Africa and channel resources to social spending. Africa is a continent in dire need for resources for development governments continue to spend enormous sums on military hardware. The AAPC recognizes that the easy availability of light weapons has created complex military arrangements in which politicians have developed personal militias in many countries in Africa. The participants will therefore discuss the impact of light arms from the socio-political, economic and health perspectives. It is envisaged that strategies for intensified campaign against light arms will be launched.
Discussions will be centered on the current status of landmines situation in Africa. This will also include proliferation, demining, ethics and justice, mine victim assistance and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty in Africa. The conference will define priorities for mine action as well as current initiatives to address the landmine mantra. The AAPC endorses the ideals of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines which puts a high priority on governments destroying their stockpiles of mines as a form of "preventive mine action." Transparency on stockpiles, and other mine-related matters. The AAPC recognizes that Africa remains the most heavily mined continent while lacking resources for demining. Despite the promises of the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) the landmine mantra is likely to persist in Africa for probably many decades. The participants will review strategies for mine action in Africa with a view to making them more effective. This will build upon the recent meeting in May of State Parties to the MBT held in Maputo, Mozambique.
Contrary to common belief that Africa is not predisposed to problems of nuclear armament (and nuclear energy) and that the consequences of a nuclear war may remain secondary rather than primary, participants will be enlightened how Africa will not escape these consequences in the event of a nuclear holocaust. Participants will discuss strategies for lobbying African governments to support the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention based on lessons learnt from the Ottawa process. In this case the AAPC endorses the global ideals of Abolition 2000 campaign to abolish Nuclear weapons. The AAPC also calls on the Nuclear weapons countries to respect Africa as a "Nuclear Weapons Free Zone". It is also envisaged that alternatives to nuclear technology will also be discussed and if possible an exhibition of these technologies will be held. Participants are expected to come up with recommendations on how to step up activism against nuclear weapons in the African region.
Discussions will center on the child soldiers especially in the Great Lakes region and Sudan. The dynamics and implications of this rampant problem will enable a greater understanding and participants will be able to develop plans for both intervention and activism to stop the use of child soldiers.
3. International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law and Institutions:
This strand will work towards designing effective early warning systems, highlighting and strengthening peace-building mechanisms by community-based organizations, national civil society groups as well as by regional networks. We will also explore ways of enhancing peaceful resolution of violent conflicts, and finding effective ways of sustaining post-conflict peace building initiatives. This track will also discuss the refugee problems and lay strategies for overcoming them. The AAPC recognizes the issue of refugees as an urgent issue that requires immediate attention.
4. Root Causes of War/Culture of Peace
The AAPC recognises the need to strengthen humanitarian laws and human rights across borders as an essential step towards building a culture of peace. This track will examine the application of International Humanitarian laws in conflicts in the region. The inter-linkages between these laws and human rights abuses in the conflict areas, their impacts (both long and short-term consequences) will be discussed with a view to prescribing the relevant legal provisions. Participants will also discuss monitoring of human rights abuses.
The International Criminal Court
The main issues will revolve around ratification and operationalizing the ICC. Participants will be enlightened on the essence, implications and application of the ICC in Africa. Discussions will explore the impediments to implementing the ICC in Africa. Participants will explore the various methods of enhancing the rule of law in promoting co-existence of diverse interests in the Greater Horn of Africa - the main cause of conflicts in the region.
We hope to consolidate research already accumulated on the root causes of war in Africa, develop this research further and design effective strategies towards a culture of peace in the 21st Century. Participants will define the various entry points for launching peace education including peace curriculum development. Lessons from on-going programs in the region will form the basis of deliberations. Cultural presentations and indigenous methods of peace building will complement this theme across the region.
The AAPC recognizes the need for environmental protection as an essential component of peace. A workshop will be organized to discuss the effects of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP's) and the current global efforts to eliminate them. A similar workshop will be held on "Health and Peace in the 21st Century". The workshops will give impetus for health activists to review and re-define campaign issues for the 21st Century. This implies that the AAPC recognizes health as a peace issue and this has been amply demonstrated by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War - A Nobel Peace Prize Winner and the Pugwash Society among other physician groups.
The conference will take place at the Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) right in the Center of Nairobi City. KICC has the capacity to cater for between 5,000 - 7,000 participants. It is equipped with modern conference facilities including translation equipment, slide and overhead projectors. There will be 10 separate meeting rooms for various concurrent workshops.
All participants will have to register in order to gain access to the conference venue and facilities. The registration fees are as follows: Participants from Africa $ 100
Participants from outside Africa $ 200
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