Strengthening Peacemaking Capacities Among Key Actors in Africa

“The practice of negotiation revealed the importance of sitting and discussing differences with opponents. Interest-based approaches to dispute settlement appeared most useful, as parties are able to get solutions once they can express their interests.” - comment from an official participating in the 2013 UNITAR Regional Training Programme

10 December, 2013. The UNITAR Regional Training Programme to Enhance Conflict Prevention and Peacemaking in Africa, the 12th continental programme organized to date, concluded on 28 November in Addis Ababa.

The two-week training programme brought together senior and mid level officials directly involved in the analysis, prevention and resolution of conflict. Participating officials came from Offices of Presidents and Prime Ministers and Ministries of Foreign Affairs, from local government, UN and AU peace missions, the African Union Commission and Liaison Offices, from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD).

The methodology presented focuses on interest-based, problem-solving negotiation and mediation which involves a deep analysis of the conflict and the interests (needs, fears, concerns and aspirations) of the parties in order to formulate constructive, mutually-beneficial and lasting solutions.

During the training, officials identified root causes of violent conflicts, reviewed a spectrum of conflict-handling mechanisms, engaged in theory sessions, exercises and simulations to practice negotiation and mediation, and examined principles of reconciliation. Two current and former Special Representatives of the Secretary-General presented case studies and shared challenges, lessons, strategies and practice in peacemaking and preventive diplomacy. The sessions at the African Union Headquarters and briefings by senior officials there on the African Peace and Security Architecture further inspired the participating officials in their work to contribute to the implementation of the Architecture for the common objective of achieving sustainable peace on the continent.

Participating officials expressed their deep appreciation to the Governments of Australia, Norway, and Sweden whose support made possible this intensive training programme to strengthen capacities for peace among key actors in Africa.