The Pan African Forum, Sources and Resources for a Culture of Peace, opened in Luanda (Angola) today, with the ambition to prepare a roadmap for sustainable peace in Africa.
“This forum, organized with the African Union and the Government of Angola, provides an opportunity for progress towards peace, one of our greatest challenges,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in her address to the opening session. “I am delighted that it is taking place in Angola, whose history also teaches us that the quest for peace is inseparable from that of sustainable development, the participation of youth and women, and respect for cultures and identities.”
The opening session was also presided by José Eduardo dos Santos, President of the Republic of Angola, a country who in 2012 celebrated the tenth anniversary of the peace agreement that ended 25 years of conflict. "War is a calamity," President dos Santos told participants. “Africa has as much need for peace as bread to feed the Continent.”
The Vice President of the African Union Commission, his Excellency Mr. Erastus Mwencha, stated that "the fostering of peace must be recognized as a cultural imperative." The experience and work of UNESCO, in the framework of promoting a Culture of Peace both through its mission and mandate as well as through its programmatic activities over several decades, was heralded as exemplary in this regard in the opening ceremony. Federico Mayor, Former Director-General of UNESCO, underlined that the fact the Pan-African Forum occurs in Angola is not a coincidence; "in the cradle of humanity, a message for all the world, and particularly the youth."
The link between peace and development was also taken up by the keynote speakers during the morning session.
For the former President of the Republic of Mozambique Joaquim Alberto Chissano, the promotion of a culture of peace requires concrete "permanent and continuous action." The value of peace, he said, needs permanent engagement and intercultural dialogue that today’s youth must take up the challenge of perpetuating.
"Without peace and security, there can be no development for all" Ms. Bineta Diop, President of "Femmes Afrique et Solidarite" and representing civil society stated.
The Forum brings together Africa’s leading decision makers, business leaders, thinkers and artists, along with representatives from inter-governmental organizations and civil society. Over the next three days they will discuss ways of drawing on Africa’s wealth of sources and resources to build a culture of peace, and will prepare a Plan of Action for the prevention of violence and conflicts in Africa.
The Forum also provides the setting for the launch of the “Make Peace Happen” campaign. This regional movement will galvanize actors from all sectors of African society, to promote a culture of peace, and sensitize public opinion, particularly the opinion of young people, on ways to construct and consolidate peace and non-violence in daily life.
Media contact in Luanda: Sasha Rubel, Tel: +33 (0) 6 31 54 30 36; s.rubel(at)unesco.org
The full programme for the Forum is available here
Remote participation is also possible for this event. See details on how you can participate here.