Peace, Human Security and Conflict Prevention
23–24 July 2001
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23 and 24 July 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS)
of South Africa hosted a high-level expert meeting on peace, human
security, conflict prevention and social development, with the
participation of regional and continental organizations and selected
representatives from civil society in Africa. The meeting took place
under the terms of a cooperation agreement signed between UNESCO and the
ISS in Paris on 22 February 1999 and followed the First International
Meeting of Directors of Peace Research and Training Institutions, hosted
by UNESCO in Paris on 27 and 28 November 2000.
November 2000 meeting made a number of specific recommendations
concerning Africa, including the need to give support to African
initiatives; the need to strongly link conflict prevention to the
promotion of human security, on the basis of dialogue within societies;
and the need to strengthen education, training and scientific capacities
to deal with the major challenges of conflict prevention and the
building of human security. The Agenda for Action from the Paris meeting
called, inter alia,
for the convening of expert meetings in the different regions in
order to draw up more specific agendas for the promotion of human
security at the regional and subregional levels.
Pretoria meeting is the first of a series of four on the same theme.
Thus, three other meetings will be held in 2001, one in Karachi
(Pakistan) for the South Asia region, in collaboration with the Pakistan
Institute for International Affairs (PIIA); one in Almaty (Kazakhstan)
for the Central Asia region, in cooperation with the National Commission
for UNESCO; and the last in Santiago (Chile) for the Latin America and
Caribbean region, in cooperation with the Latin American Faculty of
Social Sciences (FLACSO).
UNESCO is also preparing regional international conferences for 2002 on
peace, human security and conflict prevention in Africa, Asia and Latin
challenges and prospective issues
is plagued by the twin phenomena of weak states and weak civil
societies. Notwithstanding, states continue to be important actors both
politically and economically. Within that context, the institutional and
administrative shortcomings of governments, parliaments, judiciaries and
security sectors, as well as low social and economic indicators, need to
be addressed if any progress on human security is to be achieved.
this respect, capacity building on a number of levels is necessary, as
is improved access to information at the national, subregional and
regional levels. Greater openness in the process of governing is also
critical, both in terms of preventing crises and of improving governance
in furthering the cause of human security, the political will of the
parties involved is crucial. Apart from a lack of capacity, lack of will
has been a major constraint on progress in regional integration and the
development of regional codes of conduct, for example.
Pretoria workshop focused on the following questions:
can we ensure that regional, subregional and national bodies take
the dimension of human security into account in their policy
formulation and implementation?
the priorities that require long-term action been identified by
these bodies or are they only dealing with urgent matters (crisis
capacities need to be built to promote human security, especially
through education and training?
strategies can mobilize the most vulnerable populations so that they
too have a stake in the democratic process?
concept of human security
there has, in recent years, been an expansion of both the concept of
development and that of security, the two terms are not synonymous.
While delegates enthusiastically subscribed to a wide definition of
security as encapsulated by the term ‘human security’, the concept
requires some delineation. In fact, there is a close overlap between our
understanding of security and the term ‘peace-building’. Therefore,
for example, while delegates did not focus on the issue of development
as such, the effects of (failed) development approaches and policies
that impact very significantly on individual and communal security were
considered to be of central concern.
focus on security does not imply a top-down approach to the
strengthening of administrative structures or a state-centred approach
to security thinking. Indeed, we reject an approach that relies upon
structure to the exclusion of content and process.
concern with human security, therefore, provides space for
community-based approaches to building stability and a host of
initiatives between this and international responses and initiatives.
Finally, in contrast to the short-term, problem-orientated focus of
traditional strategic or security studies, our focus on human security
attempts to lengthen the timescale within which security concerns are
addressed, and broaden the scope beyond purely military issues.
A general overview
workshop aimed to develop recommendations that would build on existing
institutions and programmes carried out both by UNESCO and/or regional
and national organizations, as well as organizations such as the ISS and
other partners, in order to avoid duplication of effort. In addition, an
attempt was made to base recommendations on their potential feasibility.
recognized that a number of recommendations impact upon other actors,
such as the broader United Nations system, funding agencies and civil
recommendations can be implemented at a number of levels and by a number
government and its agencies, with UNESCO playing a role in some of
and regional: intergovernmental organizations such as the African
Union, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common
Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic
Community of Central African States (ECCAS),
the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the
Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with UNESCO
playing a role in some of the initiatives.
all of the above, domestic and regional civil society organizations were
identified as important actors, although their general weakness meant
that expectations of delivery needed to be modest. Initiatives to
strengthen the role of civil society organizations, think-tanks and
regional institutes such as the ISS were therefore a recurrent theme.
core competency, that of capacity building through education and
training, can be focused in the following areas:
technical and administrative personnel at national governmental,
subregional and regional intergovernmental level, who can manage
projects effectively and engage in complex negotiations, such as the
various rounds of the World Trade Organization.
accessible and ‘processable’ information/resources.
could be achieved on the basis of the draft UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy
for 2002–2007, and in particular of its Strategic Objective 5 relating
to human security and its Strategy on the Eradication of Poverty.
workshop participants recognized the significance of UNESCO’s culture
of peace and related programmes. It was agreed that certain core
values of promotion of human rights and good governance are
universal. The development of region-specific programmes promoting a
culture of peace would build on existing UNESCO programmes, but
would be aimed at identifying specific problems facing regions. For
example, in the Horn of Africa the specific problem could be the
militarization of politics, while in other parts of the continent it
could be religious or racial intolerance. Such programmes (e.g.
Education for Peace) could be operational at a national level, but
would be given added weight and create additional awareness if they
were officially approved as joint programmes of UNESCO with the
various subregional groupings, such as SADC or ECCAS among others.
UNESCO could develop pilot projects focused on human security for
states that have very little capacity or resources. In addition,
literacy programmes could be used to promote peace, human rights,
democracy and tolerance.
human security was still an emerging paradigm, with differing
perceptions and emphasis, UNESCO would consider supporting a pilot
study, possibly through the ISS, to investigate the development of human
security indicators, which could raise the profile of critical
human security issues. This would be complementary to the emphasis
of the New Africa Initiative, adopted by the Organization of
at its July 2001 Summit in Lusaka (Zambia), on good governance,
democracy, human rights and sustainable development. Such a project
could eventually involve a number of actors, including civil
society, subregional and regional organizations. If adopted, these
human security indicators could be used as benchmarks and
early-warning mechanisms for the identification of focused
programmes of action. For it to be African-owned, the process of
developing such indicators would have to include the input of
organizations and policy-making or academic institutions in
also recommended that African institutions be encouraged to research
and publish on the concept of human security and associated issues.
UNESCO would possibly fund and encourage such projects.
Participants emphasized the importance of early warning and the
challenge to translate this into early action. These mechanisms do
not necessarily need to be intergovernmental, subregional or
regional only, but delegates supported the development of
early-warning mechanisms located in appropriate African research
institutions with a focus that included non-military aspects of
human security, particularly human rights and governance. The
participants noted with appreciation the role played by established
regional early-warning systems within civil society, such as that at
also discussed the furthering of the human security agenda through capacity building of African
parliamentarians, through institutions that form part of the
broader security sector, including the armed forces and criminal
justice sectors, as well as in respect of civil society. It is
apparent that many African legislative institutions have limited
information on international agreements and protocols entered into
by their governments (examples are the Palermo Convention and
decisions on controlling the proliferation of small arms).
Educational and capacity building projects to address these problems
could be channelled intergovernmentally and through civil society.
Delegates noted that all regional organizations have established or
are considering various types of regional parliamentary institutions
as well as referring to the mooted Pan-African Parliament.
was given to African member states to promote common
legislative agendas in their national assemblies on issues that
have been identified as crucial to the promotion of human security,
such as HIV/AIDS, poverty, environment, human rights and good
governance. It was also seen as important to consider vulnerable
groups more broadly, in particular refugees, internally displaced
persons, women, children, those affected by HIV/AIDS and persecuted
communities and groups.
participants also highlighted the fact that the overarching
principles of the African Union, the New Africa
Initiative (NAI) and
the Conference on Security,
Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) are
complementary to the concept of human security, and that it would be
important to cooperate at an intergovernmental level to work towards
attaining the principles contained therein. Delegates encouraged
regional civil society organizations, such as the ISS, to assist in
mobilizing and popularizing these initiatives in the run-up to the
first Assembly of the African Union, to be held in South Africa in
2002. Such popularization should seek to provide space for civil
society organizations within these continental initiatives and seek
to embed the principles of good governance and democracy, tolerance
and empowerment of the populations, politically, socially and
economically, at all levels. They also require the development of
benchmark levels of democracy to ensure some measure of assessment
of progress. This would also facilitate accountability of national
and intergovernmental agencies to their citizens.
of the issues identified by the participants as a key constraint was
access to and dissemination
of information. In this framework, the UNESCO SecuriPax Network
should be strengthened, in particular through regional and
subregional networking in Africa.
participants recommended the establishment
of a publicly accessible electronic resource centre, focusing on
intergovernmental organizations in Africa, which would be responsible
for the collection and dissemination of official documentation, such
as decisions, resolutions, and basic documentation such as protocols
and other official agreements. This would provide two benefits: easy
access to information by regional and national bodies; and a means by
which governments and intergovernmental organizations could be held
accountable for decisions and policies adopted.
the participants also pointed to the fact that the so-called
‘information society’ was a reality for only a small proportion of
people in Africa. Other forms of dissemination of information needed
attention, such as radio and publications, especially in countries
where the media are
controlled by the state. In addition, citizens may have access to
international broadcasters, but little access to information and
developments directly pertinent to their own countries or regions.
Participants stressed that the utilization of technology was a strong
vehicle against the abuse of power. It provided for greater
accountability and in this respect would need to be harnessed by
organizations of civil society and UNESCO.
building of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and
community-based organizations in
matters such as knowledge of codes of governance, and the more
effective operation of such organizations, were also identified as
areas in which UNESCO could help to address serious
this respect, the identification for training of women’s
organizations and community-based organizations in rural areas would
go a long way towards assisting vulnerable groups.
also touched on the necessity of developing
a database or inventory of African NGOs, which could facilitate
improved networking among them as well as with intergovernmental
organizations. Delegates noted that the Economic Commission for Africa
(ECA) already has an African Network for Civil Society. Participants
also noted with appreciation the results from the OAU – Civil
Society Conference hosted in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) in June 2001 and
the resolutions that flowed from it.
The workshop also identified a role for civil
society, working together with UNESCO and other agencies, such as
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in developing the
capacity of civil society organizations in Africa. The recommendations
included acceleration in the accreditation of African NGOs based at
UNESCO. This would allow a more balanced perspective by UNESCO on the
needs of NGOs, especially those of Africa. It would also help to
create the necessary links between UNESCO and elements of African
Furthermore, the UNESCO National Commissions could focus on scenario
building with youth and women, particularly in less-developed
countries, similar to the UNDP African Futures – National Long-Term
Participants again called on the ISS to assist in mobilizing civil
society participation in the forthcoming Assembly of the African
Union, and UNESCO urged African leaders, and South Africa as the host,
to assist in such a process and provide for civil society
participation during the Assembly.
all the above, UNESCO and regional intergovernmental organizations
should strive to identify the role that traditional
African institutions, such as the council of elders, can play.
This would create a real sense of the ability of indigenous
mechanisms to promote peace and human security.
24 July 2001