Report on the All Africa Peace Conference
4-7 November 1999, Nairobi Kenya
Report by Brian Rawson, IPPNW
The All Africa Peace Conference (AAPC), held on the 4-7 November, was a 4-day gathering of civil society organizations and governments from Africa and the world, inspired by the Hague Appeal for Peace. IPPNW-Kenya and Jesuit Refugee Society were principal organizers, and many other African organizations participated.
An estimated 200 - 250 participants from 14 African countries attended, mostly from Southern and Eastern Africa, as well as several people from Europe and North America. Participants brought a wealth of experience living and working in war-torn communities. They included physicians and medical students, researchers, community workers, police and military personnel, mothers of abducted child soldiers, youth, refugees, and more. The vibrancy of African civil society made for successful and interesting workshops.
The AAPC was considered a follow-up event to the HAP. The HAP generously provided some funds for travel assistance within Africa. Susan Davis travelled from the UK to deliver official greetings from HAP. Ms. Davis gave a compelling opening address about the current political context in relation to nuclear weapons.
Notable participants from governments included Ms. Ela Gandhi, grand-daughter of MK Gandhi and member of parliament in South Africa, as well as a representatives from the Belgian Development Cooperation Ministry and the Norwegian Embassy. UNICEF participated as well. Kenyan government provided the last-minute surprise of President Daniel Arap Moi, who gave an opening address. Also, the Kenyan foreign affairs minister and a leading opposition member of parliament spoke.
Media attention was good. There was substantial daily coverage in the Nairobi press and on national television. Banners hung over the streets of Nairobi proclaimed support for the conference and the Hague Appeal for Peace (HAP).
The conference's three and a half days of plenaries and workshops were structured on the 4 basic themes of the Hague Appeal for Peace: 1) disarmament, 2) peaceful prevention, resolution, and transformation of violent conflicts, 3) human rights, refugee crisis, and humanitarian institutions, 4) root causes of war, culture of peace, and human security.
The workshops led to the drafting of resolutions and recommendations on issues of critical importance to Africa, such as nuclear issues, landmines, small arms, poverty and the debt crisis, child soldiers, human rights, the environment, and more. Copies of the resolutions will be available shortly from IPPNW-Kenya.
Many thanks and congratulations are due to the core organizing committee of Dr. Walter Odhiambo (IPPNW-Kenya), Mr. Paul Saoke (IPPNW-Kenya), Ms. Sarah Njeri (Jesuit Refugee Service), and Mr. Opiyo Makoude (AAPC).
IPPNW at the conference
IPPNW-Kenya was a principal organizer of the event, and many IPPNW affiliates and members provided financial and moral support to the conference. IPPNW was represented by members from Zambia, Uganda, Germany, Canada, and the Central Office. It was inspiring to see the tremendous amount of enthusiasm for disarmament issues among physicians in many African countries. Physicians and medical students present at the conference maintain their dedicated activism in spite of challenging circumstances and personal danger. Communication can be quite difficult, but any and all information from IPPNW colleagues is greatly appreciated and very useful.
There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for disarmament issues among physicians in many African countries. A large number of young physicians and medical students from Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia attended the conference and led workshops. A number of conference participants credited IPPNW for bringing the issue of nuclear weapons to the attention of the public in Africa.
IPPNW-Zambia will host the next IPPNW Africa Regional Meeting, to occur early next year. Dr. Robert Mtonga of Zambia convened a planning session during the All Africa Peace Conference. Please watch for further announcements on e-mail.
For African affiliates, connection with the IPPNW network is critical for acquiring information and political support. The latest political developments are watched very closely, though internet access is far less convenient than in industrialized countries. Many IPPNW members in Kenya access e-mail through Healthnet, a project of SatelLife, (which originated at IPPNW and then became independent). Demand for the Healthnet computer terminals is so high that there is often a long line-up to use them. That's how important your latest data and updates are to the rest of the federation!
Book purchase will support IPPNW-Kenya
"The Bombs That Shook Nairobi and Dar: A Story of Pain and Betrayal" is a compelling first hand account from a young IPPNW physician who attended to the crisis both within the emergency room and at the disaster site. Dr. Obwogo Subiri provides thought-provoking analysis of the political context and its implications for Kenya and Africa. You can order this book from the IPPNW Central Office for $10/copy plus shipping. See contact information in signature below, for Brian Rawson.
Brian Rawson, Program Coordinator
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
727 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139
tel: 617-868-5050 x208 fax: 617-868-2560
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