GAAMAC and CADHA organized the First Regional Forum of the Africa Working Group in Abidjan

28 September 2023
The forum took place on 13 and 14 September and brought together experts from the government, members of the Assembly and Senate, members of the armed and security forces and civil society who participated virtually and in person.

Over 50 participants gathered on the first day of the event to discuss, in four sessions, issues related to hate speech and violence in electoral cycles; the role of human rights commissions in preventing atrocities; and the status of ratification of the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide. On the second day, 47 participants discussed the role of women as well as of national committees in the prevention of atrocity crimes and participated in a session on the conclusions and recommendations.

The forum provided a space for dialogue and the exchange of good practices and lessons learned and benefited from the expertise and experience of various ministries of the Côte d’Ivoire government, members of the Assembly and Senate and civil society. Speakers came from eight countries of four sub-regions. Among 15 speakers, seven were women (47%).

The opening ceremony was marked by inspiring and stimulating speeches by Ms Jamila Mohammed, Chair of the GAAMAC Africa Working Group (AWG), Bakari Sidiki Diaby, Vice-Chairman of the GAAMAC AWG and GAAMAC’s Chair, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, who stressed the need for collaboration and collective action to prevent mass atrocities and reiterated her invitation to Côte d’Ivoire to join GAAMAC as a state partner.

The second day of the forum was inaugurated by Mr. Léo Trembley, Counsellor and Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in Côte d’Ivoire, who reiterated Switzerland’s support for the initiative. The event was made possible with the contribution of Switzerland and an anonymous American Foundation.

The forum concluded with a speech by Mr. Bertin Konan Kouadio, Minister for Reconciliation and National Cohesion, recalling Côte d’Ivoire’s record and support for prevention efforts.

Among the speakers were the President of the National Council of Human Rights, Ms. Namizata Sangaré; the President of the Côte d’Ivoire Chapter of the Women’s Peace and Security Network in the ECOWAS region, Ms. Geneviève Diallo; Karen Smith, Former UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect and the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, who participated online.

The AWG regional focal points and members also ensured a rich and diverse discussion. Among them were heads of National Committees on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, who made a valuable contribution to the debate on mass atrocity crimes and developing strategies to prevent them.

Participants recognized that the prevention of atrocity crimes is an essential part of a broader effort to achieve good governance, stability, and effective protection of human rights in Africa.

Recommendations

Atrocity prevention is an approach that concerns the whole of society, and it is therefore necessary to support national atrocity prevention mechanisms, such as Peace Councils and Genocide Prevention Committees, as well as National Commissions of Human Rights. The AWG encourages and supports locally owned initiatives that build and strengthen national architectures and policies to prevent atrocities through exchange, dialogue, and dissemination of learning and good practice. 

Atrocity prevention goes hand in hand with gender equality. GAAMAC and its Regional Working Groups support the role of women in preventing atrocities and combating conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence. GAAMAC believes that gender should be mainstreamed across prevention mechanisms and that efforts should not be limited to responding to sexual and gender-based crimes.

In accordance with the Steering Group strategy for 2022-2024, GAAMAC prioritizes efforts to mobilize the political support of States for prevention initiatives. In this sense, GAAMAC reiterates its invitation to the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to join GAAMAC as a state partner.

The Africa Working Group has been very active these past years in raising awareness and increasing understanding and support towards an upfront and permanent atrocity prevention agenda. The realization of the First AWG Regional Forum is a significant achievement for the GAAMAC AWG, and it is expected that this forum will be the first of many regional forums to be organized in the future.

Read the outcome document

Read more about the Africa Working Group

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