The China-Africa Knowledge Project at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) designed to complement SSRC activities on Africa and Asia, in collaboration with the SSRC’s African Peacebuilding Network (APN), the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), and other partners including the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of the Addis Ababa University, University of Kinshasa and the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, held a capstone seminar of the China-Africa Peace and Security Research Fellowship, at the Intercontinental hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 16-18 November, 2016. The seminar was convened to provide an opportunity for the fellows to present their research findings to senior experts, policy and civil society practitioners and specialists drawn from Africa, China, and the United Nations. Of note was the participation of two APN grantees: Dereje Dori and Fekadu Tufa in the seminar. Expectations are that the discussions and feedback from participants will inform further revision and the finalization of the fellows’ research papers. Also, it is expected to further aid the dissemination of findings to strategic stakeholders in China, Africa and the United States. More specifically, state and private sector economic enterprises, the African Union (AU), African Regional Economic Communities (RECs,) and the United Nations (UN). The seminar also provided an important networking opportunity for Chinese and African scholars, policy makers, practitioners, and members of civil society.
Opening remarks were made by the Deputy Director of the SSRC Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum (CPPF) and leader of the SSRC China-Africa Knowledge Project, Tatiana Carayannis, Associate Academic Director and Regular MA degree studies coordinator at the IPSS, Yonas Adeye Adeto, and the Director of the Quaker International Affairs Program for East Asia for the AFSC and the organization’s Global Quaker International Affairs representative, Jason Tower. Additional opening remarks were made by the Regional Director of AFSC’s Africa office, Kennedy Akolo, and Director of SSRC’s APN, Cyril Obi. Their presentations focused on the missions of their organizations, and how their roles aligned with the goals of the China-Africa seminar.
The first session explored the framing of UN-AU cooperation on peace and security in Africa. It featured presentations by Johnstone Oketch of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) and Alex De Waal, Executive Director of the World Peace Foundation and Research Professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. It was followed by presentations by the research fellows of the China-Africa Peace and Security project. Their presentations included multilateral peace partnerships between the UN and the AU, drawing on the case of UNAMID, and included perspectives to the African Peace and Security Architecture, and cases highlighting the challenges faced by Chinese enterprises operating in conflict-affected settings, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kenya, and Zimbabwe. The other presentations and robust discussions that followed focused on examples and best practices to overcome these challenges, and explored gender specific and civil society perspectives. Discussions further explored strategies for linking research findings to policy and practice, particularly in relation to UN-AU peace and security cooperation. The following session of the seminar highlighted best practices, based on experience-sharing by leading experts and practitioners of conflict resolution, peace mediation, and peacebuilding. Other topics covered included: corporate social responsibility and strategies for disseminating research results, including publishing options. The closing session served as a forum for brainstorming the project and the next steps for its development, including future research priorities and directions.