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Inauguration of Interpeace’s regional office for West Africa

October 3, 2013
Est. Reading: 3 minutes
Photo credit: Voz di Paz

Interpeace is proud to announce the opening of its Regional Office for West Africa on 4 October 2013.The new office, based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire reinforces Interpeace's long-standing support to the region. Currently, Interpeace is supporting peacebuilding initiatives in Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Mali.The Regional Office for West Africa will enable Interpeace to have closer ties and provide more direct assistance to its local partners in their quest for sustainable peace. The Regional Office will also complement the work of Interpeace around the world.

More information about Interpeace's programmes in the West Africa region can be found below.

Assisting Malian society to overcome challenges

At the beginning of 2012, Mali experienced an unprecedented political and security crisis witnessing a coup d'état and a rebellion in the North. These events have not only highlighted the fragility of the main state institutions, but also the deep divisions and tensions in Malian society. Jointly with its local partner IMRAP (Institut Malien de Recherche Action pour la Paix), Interpeace seeks to contribute to the establishment of a culture of inclusive, participatory and constructive dialogue in order to sustainably restore and enhance trust between the different sectors and levels of society, and to deal jointly with the present and future challenges and opportunities for peace and social cohesion in Mali.

Contributing to reconciliation in Liberia

Liberia is still struggling with the legacy of a 14-year-long civil war. Consolidating the fragile democracy, promoting the respect of human rights, strengthening state institutions and crafting a national peacebuilding and reconciliation vision for the country are among the most pressing challenges. Interpeace has been working in Liberia in collaboration with its local partner P4DP (Platform for Dialogue and Peace) since 2006. Its current focus is on a programme aimed at (1) facilitating the emergence of youth and women in the border area with Côte d'Ivoire as peacebuilding leaders and legitimate actors of change; (2) supporting the Roadmap process for national healing and reconciliation led by governmental partners; and (3) connecting efforts in the Liberian border area with the programmatic approach taken by Interpeace in the Western part of Côte d'Ivoire.

Identifying obstacles to peace in Côte d'Ivoire

In Côte d'Ivoire, Interpeace and its local partner INDIGO (Initiative de Dialogue et Recherche Action pour la Paix) are working to help Ivorians overcome the cleavages which have grown deeper through a decade of political crisis and violent conflict.

In 2012, mandated by the State Ministry, Ministry of Plan and Development and the United Nations Development Programme and UN Peacebuilding Fund, Interpeace and INDIGO conducted a participatory research process. This involved over 300 people who were consulted on the conflict dynamics and conflict management in Western Côte d'Ivoire. This process identified the main obstacles to peace which include land tenure, ethnicity and its political instrumentalization, the weakness of state institutions, and the impact of the political crises of 2002 and 2012.

Furthermore, the process also brought to light a major underlying phenomenon, namely the self -victimization of all stakeholders in the region. Ultimately, as the head researcher Dr. Séverin Kouamé points out, "A majority of Ivorians consulted tended to see themselves only as victims of the conflict and did not consider points of view from others. Recognising this focus on self and sharing knowledge about other points of view is the first step of building long sustaining peace."

Engaging the population of Guinea-Bissau for peace

In Guinea-Bissau, the continued power struggle within the political-military elite has contributed to the weakening of the state and the reduction of trust by the population in the political elite and their fellow citizens. Interpeace and its local partner Voz di Paz accompanied a participatory dialogue process through which approximately 9,000 Bissau-Guineans agreed to four main priorities for the consolidation of peace. Building on these results, a reflection process involving over 3,000 persons of all sectors of the society developed concrete policy recommendations for peace.

The overall goal is to remove the obstacles to the consolidation of peace in Guinea‐Bissau by encouraging dialogue and engaging a broad range of actors from all walks of life throughout the country in the peace process through the assertion of civic engagement for social cohesion, institutional modernization and peacebuilding.

Participatory processes at the core of Interpeace peacebuilding initiatives

Interpeace's peacebuilding programmes in West Africa share its global approach and methods for peacebuilding including the use of participatory and inclusive approaches.. Interpeace considers peacebuilding as the process of strengthening a society's capacity to manage and transform conflict in non-violent and non-coercive ways. It therefore puts emphasis on the development of local capacities anchored in constructive actions and processes for sustainable peace that are effectively owned by internal actors and the result of their will, imagination and commitment.