Previous events in our ‘African perspectives on peacebuilding’ series have assessed the development of African approaches to peacebuilding in response to the changing dynamics of conflict and emergence of new conflict actors on the continent. The recent series of conflicts in Africa – notably in Central African Republic, Mali, and South Sudan – has highlighted the challenging nature of the peace and security landscape and the necessity to involve all experts (scholars, policymakers and practitioners) in the process.
Since the end of the Cold War, attention to the roles that local civil society actors can play in peacebuilding and the possibilities of international support to their efforts has increased. Research argues that even if civil society has no direct influence on the political processes, it is perceived as crucial in creating the critical mass necessary for the peaceful resolution of conflicts. The role that African civil society actors have and can take in African peacebuilding needs to be further unpacked and analysed to raise pertinent questions and reshape approaches on the continent and wider engagement with broader global discourses and practices.
Our first event in the series, Peacebuilding in Africa: evolving challenges, responses and new thinking held in 2015, began the process of consolidating African perspectives on peacebuilding, with the findings and conclusions tested by African scholars and practitioners in our 2016 meeting on Peacebuilding in Africa: developing African approaches. This third event in the series explored the relationship between civil society and African peacebuilding and identify ways forward; it aimed to:
- Interrogate the concept and practices of civil society in the context of African and global peacebuilding;
- Engage African policymakers, civil society actors, and scholars in collective efforts to identify concrete measures and ways forward to sustainable peacebuilding efforts, including their financing;
- Raise awareness of the obstacles and evaluate ways forward for inclusive peacebuilding focusing on the role of (empowered) African civil society organisations in mediating state and society relations;
- Develop further findings of, and allow policy makers, practitioners and civil society actors to respond to, issues raised in our previous two meetings on new African peacebuilding approaches.