On 08-09 October 2015 ACCORD’s Founder and Executive Director, Mr Vasu Gounden, addressed a High Level Seminar on “Peace, Security and Sustainable Development: The Role of African and European Parliaments in Tackling the Root causes and Consequences of Violent Extremism and Terrorism”. The Seminar was hosted by the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), and held at the Belgian Senate in Brussels.
AWEPA works in cooperation with African Parliaments to strengthen Parliamentary democracy in Africa, to keep Africa high on the political agenda in Europe and to facilitate African-European Parliamentary dialogue. As part of its mission to strengthen this dialogue, AWEPA organizes an annual international parliamentary conference on a theme of particular priority for Africa’s development and its relations with Europe.
Mr. Gounden’s participation was in a Working Group on “Tackling the consequences of terrorism and violent extremism” where he was one of two resource persons providing framing remarks ahead of the debate. The theme for the high level seminar “Peace, Security and Sustainable Development” was chosen in light of growing international attention to the role of peace and security in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The seminar specifically discussed on-going African and European national and regional parliamentary initiatives and strategies to combat violent extremism and terrorism. Examples included parliamentary initiatives on: what teachers and religious schools could do to prevent young people from being radicalised; the particular impact of violent extremism on women, young girls and minorities; as well as initiatives to increase dialogue and information exchange between States at the regional or continental level. Participants also discussed best practices in Europe and Africa, including regional responses and cooperation, with a special emphasis on initiatives taken by regional parliamentary bodies in Africa.
The objectives of the seminar were to: i) inform African and European MPs on the latest trends in parliamentary initiatives in both Africa and Europe on violent extremism and terrorism; ii) raise awareness among MPs of the nexus between security and sustainable development especially related to the transition from the MDGs to the SDGs; iii) build knowledge on on-going policy initiatives on violent extremism in Africa and Europe at the national, regional and continental levels; and iv) stimulate debate and reflection on how national, regional and continental parliaments in Africa and Europe can strengthen their role in achieving lasting peace and security.
The event brought together African parliamentary staff and MPs from national parliaments, regional parliamentary bodies; and the Pan African Parliament; MPs of several European parliaments, as well as the European Parliament; members of AWEPA; representatives of the European Commission; international organisations; NGOs; academics; and other participants.
In July 2015 Mr Gounden addressed the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, presenting a critical analysis of the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) and in September 2015 was one of three presenters at the Pre-World Social Sciences Forum seminar, on “Terrorism, New Militarisms and Human Rights – Trans-disciplinary approaches”, Mr Gounden presented on the topic “Insurgencies in the 21st Century: Asymmetrical Warfare or Terrorism.