In collaboration with the African Union Conflict Management Division, ACCORD participated to the Second Retreat of the Panel of the Wise (PoW) with similar regional mechanisms from 11th to 12th April 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The institution was represented by the Executive Director, Vasu Gounden, Manager of the Interventions Department, Martha Mutisi, Peacemaking Unit Coordinator, Natacha Kunama and Training Unit Coordinator, Pascal da Rocha.
The Retreat, convened by the African Union (AU), brought together members of the AU Panel of the Wise, Friends of the Panel, similar mechanisms from the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), as well as selected international mediators and institutions engaged in mediation activities.
The need for greater degree of collaboration in conflict prevention between the AU and the RECs was emphasized during the first Retreat of the AU PoW that took place in Ouagadougou in June 2012. The outcome of the first Retreat was the establishment of the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise), comprising of eminent personalities from AU PoW and similar mechanisms in RECs. PanWise has the mandate to work towards conflict prevention, using preventive diplomacy as the modus operandi. This continental network promotes a bottom-up approach to mediation, collaborate on joint activities and expand the agenda of peace and security to governments, civil society, local communities and individuals. The just-ended Addis Ababa Retreat provided the opportunity for PanWise members to further develop and adopt a draft framework for the operationalisation of the PanWise. In this context, the Retreat resulted in an agreement on the modalities for the functioning of the PanWise, the adoption of the 2013 – 2014 Plan of Action and also promoted the experience sharing and reflection on recent practical collaboration initiatives between the AU PoW and similar mechanisms at the RECs.
During the Retreat, ACCORD, through its Training Unit captured interviewed members of PanWise on video to tap into the experiences of peacemaking practitioners and to build a repository of knowledge that will be used for the advancement of mediation training, research and policy influence. These interviews will be recorded as a documentary as well as written articles. This project is designed to generate lessons on peacemaking.
ACCORD contributed to the conceptual processes in relation to this Retreat, including reviewing the concept note and programme agenda, facilitating some key sessions during the Retreat as well as producing a Research Report based on the Retreat. The 2013 report builds on the Ouagadougou report which explored the context of peace and security in Africa, and articulated the expectations of the AU PoW and related mechanisms. Going forward, ACCORD will publish the 2013 PanWise Retreat which captures the lessons learned and best practices in collaborative preventive responses on the continent and which will be based on the deliberations of this event. The report will also appraise the proposed plan of action, examining how this fits into the overall African peace and security architecture. The PanWise is therefore an innovative continental system which will be broad based and representative to promote joint prevention actions, explore new approaches for mediation, and provide a platform for bringing together the individual efforts for peace and stability in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance. ACCORD remains committed in its efforts to support peacemaking processes in the African continent, and advancing dialogue and constructive resolution of conflicts as alternatives to violence.