Building peace in the minds of men and women

Forum of Ideas

A platform for reflection on the future of Africa focusing on the sharing of good practices and crisis prevention solutions 


The Forum of Ideas was mainly dedicated to the theme of “Building and perpetuating peace in Africa: A multi-stakeholder movement". It consisted  in several thematic sessions focusing on:




1. Prevention of Violence and Conflict Resolution Through Education and Culture


Moderator: Mr George Papagiannis, Chief of the Media Relations Section - UNESCO



  • Ms Mbaranga Gasarabwe, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP);
  • Ms Safira Mahanjane, Director of the Alphabetization Department of the Ministry of Education and Human Development (Mozambique);
  • Mr Hassan Chouikh, Director Professional and Vocation training, Ministry of Tourism, Air transport and Social Economy (Morocco);
  • Mr Antonio Tsilefa, Chair Coordination Committee of Regional Group of Technical and Vocational Training Institutions (Madagascar);
  • Mr Filipe Zau, Rector of the Independent University (Angola).

The majority of current outbreaks of violence and conflict on the African continent arise within States, and are less and less the result of clashes between States. In this new map of violence and conflict, this session showcased how UNESCO, in the context of its global priorities, supports countries in their efforts to provide local stakeholders with the knowledge, skills, behaviors and values that support resilience necessary to live and work together. This session focused on efforts undertaken to face the contemporary challenges including community conflicts, the migrant crisis, and countering religious fundamentalism, among other important issues. Specifically, the session focused on two axes:

  • Educate a Generation of African Youth as Agents for Peace, Stability and Development; and
  • Harness the Power of Creativity and Cultural Heritage to Build a Sustainable Peace in the African continent.





2. Conflict Prevention over Natural Resources


Moderator: Mr Jean-Pierre Ilboudo, Head of UNESCO Kinshasa Office and Representative to the Democratic Republic of Congo and interim Head of the UNESCO Brazzaville Office




The management of natural resources and the prevention of their over-exploitation have been difficult when there is free access to these resources. Free access promotes competition and often leads to a devastation of the common goods. In addition, we see also an exponential increase in the demand for natural resources.


This session focused on sharing experiences of successful cooperation and case studies of UNESCO's flagship projects and initiatives that contribute to conflict prevention in the management of domestic and transboundary natural resources in Africa. Specifically, the session highlighted UNESCO's Man and Biosphere Programme and World Heritage Convention and the challenges and opportunities related to the transboundary cooperation for regional integration. This session also provided the opportunity of exchanging points of view of key partners in the political arena (African Union), financial (African Development Bank), research (University of Niamey), site Managers (OIPR, Ivory Coast), UN agencies (Special Envoy Office to the Great Lakes Region), and national partners (Angola).







3. Leaving no one behind: Promoting the Integration of Refugees, Returnees, Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa


Moderator: Ms Marèma Touré-Thiam, Chief of the Social and Human Sciences Sector (SHS) at UNESCO Dakar (Senegal)


  • Mr Ahmed Skim, Director of Migration Affairs, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in charge of Moroccans Residing Abroad and Migration Affairs, (Morocco);
  • H.E. Madame Rebecca Otengo, Ambassador of the Republic of Uganda and Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Refugees, IDPs and Returnees;
  • H.E.M. Jean Léon Ngandu-Ilunga, Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo to Ethiopia;
  • Ms Santa Ernesto, Director of the Ministry of Social Action, the Family and the Advancement of Women, (Angola).

An estimated 68 million people are forcibly displaced worldwide and more than a third of these people are in Africa. This includes as well 6.3 million refugees and asylum-seekers and 14.5 million displaced persons. In this context, the African Union has chosen 2019's AU theme as "Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa". With this choice, African leaders recognize the need for comprehensive and inclusive responses to major migration trends and their dynamics and challenges on the continent and abroad. This high scale of displacement crisis is compounded by the risks of trafficking, human rights violations, lack of adequate humanitarian assistance, sexual and gender-based violence, detention of asylum-seekers, deportation, xenophobia and overall discrimination of refugees.


The session focused on best practices of countries identified by the African Union that could inspire others in improving their policies in support of refugees, returnees, internally displaced persons and migrants.








4. Global Africa: Exploring African Presence in the World


Moderator: Ms Zeinab Badawi, Journalist at BBC and producer of the series on the "General History of Africa"



  • Mr Augustin Holl, President of the International Scientific Committee for the new volumes of the "General History of Africa" ;
  • Mr José Chala Cruz, President of the International Scientific Committee for the new volumes of the "General History of Africa" ;
  • Prof. Abdi Kusow, Department of Sociology, Iowa State University, (USA) ;
  • Mr Jason Theede, Senior Specialist on Labour Mobility and Human Development, International Organization for Migration (IOM) ;
  • Dr Ziva Domingos, National Director of Museums and Angola’s representative on the World Heritage Committee.

Africa and its Diasporas have often been presented as distinct groups, separated by oceans that have had only sporadic contacts during brief historical moments. UNESCO, in line with the elaboration of the General History of Africa, seeks to challenge this binary and simplistic perspective of relations between Africa and its Diasporas by introducing the concept of global Africa. This concept makes it possible to understand the history of relations between Africans and people of African descent as an interconnected and continuous process, including the circulation of people, knowledge, know-how and cultural productions, and whose matrix is the African heritage.


The session highlighted the African influence in the world and the diversity of contributions of people of African descent to modern societies. It examined the legacy of slavery and colonialism faced by people of African descent and their capacity to resist in the fight against racial prejudice, racism and discrimination. The session focused also on how the African diaspora participates in the development of the continent, and how they are a key actor to contribute to the culture of peace.







5. Free, Independent and Pluralistic Media to Foster Peace and Development in Africa


Moderator: Ms Georja Calvin-Smith, Journalist at France 24



The media has a crucial role to play in promoting peace, justice and sustainable development throughout the world, and as such also in the African continent. A dynamic, free, independent and pluralistic media landscape ensures citizen's access to quality and unbiased information, encouraging people to express their opinions and promoting greater political participation.

With the advent of new media, there is a need for Africa to exploit technological innovations to empower people through media and information literacy to promote a climate of peace in Africa. In this regard, combating hate speech, promoting freedom of expression, protecting press freedom, ensuring the safety of journalists and promoting conflict sensitive and gender responsive dialogue are all relevant themes that were explored during this session.





1. Addressing literacy challenges of disadvantaged children through advanced technology 

ModeratorMr Yao Ydo, Director of UNESCO’s Regional Office for West Africa, Abuja (Nigeria)


  • Ms Stéphanie Gottwald, Linguistics and Literacy Tufts University and Content Director, Curious Learning (United States);
  • Mr Creensen Naicker, Director Partnership Distribution, Curious Learning (United States);
  • Ms Zulmira Rodrigues, Chief Section for Cooperation with Regional Organizations in Africa, Africa Department, UNESCO;
  • Ms Marie Yasunaga, Programme Specialist, Section for Youth, Literacy and Skills Development, UNESCO;
  • Ms Luis Moisa, Expert in adult and non-formal education.

This session highlighted the effective solutions that digital technology offers in response to the learning needs of children and other learners.




2. State of Peace and Security in Africa

ModeratorMs Ana Elisa Santana Afonso, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office with the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and UNESCO Representative to Ethiopia


  • Ms Michelle Ndiaye, Director of the Programme «Peace and Security in Africa» of the Institute of Peace and Security Studies, Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia); 
  • Dr Yonas Adaye Adeto, Director of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia);
  • H.E. Mr Afonso Eduardo Inguila, Ambassador and Director of the Africa, Middle East and Regional Organizations Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Angola;
  • Prof. Samuel Kale Ewusi, Director of the Africa Regional Programme, United Nations University for Peace ;
  • Mr Charles Binam Bikoi, Secrétaire exécutif du Centre international de recherche et de documentation sur les traditions et les langues africaines (CERDOTOLA) ;
  • Ms Seraphine Kando, Human Rights Officer of the African Union Commission ;
  • Mr Ibrahim Ceesay, Executive Director and Founder of the African Artists for Peace Initiative.

This session was dedicated to the presentation of the "Annual Report on the State of Peace and Security in Africa" (2019) of the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) of Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). This report has become the flagship annual report of the "Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa", commonly known as the "Tana Forum", which provides a synoptic analysis of pressing peace and security issues on the continent. In an informal and collaborative environment, the "Tana Forum" extends the formal meetings of African Heads of State and Government.




3. Sustainable financing of Biosphere reserves in Africa - AfribioFund

ModeratorMr Khaled Salah, Director of UNESCO’s Multisectoral Office for Central Africa (Cameroon)


The session brought together twenty participants from twelve countries, with the aim of raising awareness of the AFRIBIOFUND initiative and providing a common understanding of the problems and challenges related to the sustainable management of biosphere reserves in Africa. In addition, it was an opportunity to share experiences of cooperation between UNESCO and the African Development Bank (AfDB) on sustainable financing of the biosphere.




4. Coastal vulnerability in Central Africa

Organized with the aim of strengthening ownership of a developing initiative between the Central African countries (Angola, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea) and the Secretariat of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/UNESCO), this session, consisting of two discussion panels, was jointly opened by:

  • Ms Francisca Delgado, Focal Point of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of Angola (IOC);
  • H. E. Mr José Diekumpuna Sita N'Sadisi, Permanent Delegate of Angola to UNESCO, Chair Central African Sub-Group at UNESCO;
  • H.E. Ms Maria Antonieta J.S. Baptista, Minister for Fisheries and the Sea of the Republic of Angola.

First panel moderated by Dr Giza Martins, Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Angola:

  • Mr Pier Paolo Balladelli, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Angola;

  • Mr Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of IOC/UNESCO


Second panel moderated by Dr Cristino Mario Ndeitunga, Ministry of Land Use Planning and Housing of the Republic of Angola, Ms Francisca Delgado, IOC Focal Point, Ministry of Fisheries and the Sea of the Republic of Angola and Dr Nelma Caetana, Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Angola:

  • Mr Justin Ahanhanzo, IOC Regional Liaison Officer, UNESCO;

  • Dr Filomena Vaz Velho, Ministry of Fisheries and the Sea of (Angola);

  • Dr Manuel Xavier, Ministry of Environment (Angola)




5. Reflections on current policies for the integration of people of African descent and contemporary migrants

ModeratorMr Luis Kandjimbo, Director General of the Higher Institute of Metropolitan Polytechnics (Angola)


The purpose of this session was to allow an in-depth discussion on how to approach relations between the diaspora and the African continent. It aimed to bridge the gap between theory and practice on the links between the concept of "Global Africa" and the realities encountered, in particular by distinguishing the long-standing classical diaspora from the contemporary diaspora.




6. The Baku Procedure: Promoting intercultural dialogue for human security, peace and sustainable development - Lessons and perspectives

ModeratorMr Vasif Eyvazzade, Secretary of the International Working Group, "The Baku Procedure", Deputy Head of Administration, Head of Department of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan


  • H.E.Mr Anar Karimov, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Azerbaijan to UNESCO;
  • Prof. Mike Hardy, Executive Director, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, University of Coventry, Advisor to the Government of Azerbaijan;
  • Monsieur Hugue Charnie Ngandu Ngatta, Programme Specialist for Social and Human Sciences, Abuja Regional Office, UNESCO (Nigeria).

The session focused on a historical presentation of the "Baku Process" as a global platform established to bring together States, international and regional organizations and civil society to promote respect, understanding, dialogue and tolerance among cultures.


Baku Process