Itonde Kakoma is the new president of Interpeace
October 2, 2023
On Monday, 2 October 2023, a new President took the helm at Interpeace.
Itonde Kakoma is a deeply experienced practitioner in peace mediation, conflict resolution and humanitarian diplomacy. He joins Interpeace from an appointment as Permanent Representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to the African Union, having had roles earlier with CMI — Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, including as its Director for Global Strategy, and with the Carter Center in its Conflict Resolution Program. He has also been an Executive in Residence and Global Fellow at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. Itonde Kakoma is a first generation American of East African descent.
“Itonde Kakoma is uniquely qualified and an exceptional leader. Interpeace’s Governing Board recognises the need to adapt peacebuilding to the rapidly changing global context of peace and security, and to bring on board a new leader for a new and challenging future. With Itonde’s experience and knowledge of peacebuilding policy and its practical application, I am confident that we have a new President for the future, who will take forward Interpeace and advance peacebuilding globally,” said Amre Moussa, Chair of the Interpeace Governing Board.
The Governing Board, with support from an international recruitment firm, Perrett Laver, led the nine-month global search to appoint Interpeace’s new President.
The early focus of Kakoma’s Presidency is expected to be on leading wide-ranging listening exercises and consultations on adaptations to the organisation’s current five-year Strategy, A Resilient Peace, and on building a forward-looking pathway for Interpeace from the foundation of its 30th anniversary in 2024. “Rooted in national ownership with an aim to influence global decision making fora, I am persuaded that Interpeace’s organisational vision and mandate are ever more relevant for addressing the multifaceted challenges of our world today and for the future of peacemaking,” Kakoma said.
Interpeace is a strategic partner of the United Nations, with a representative of the UN Secretary-General serving on its Governing Board. The organisation has therefore been active in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and on strengthening linkages and creating greater impact and efficiency between peace, development and humanitarian actors. It is expected that Itonde Kakoma will also be focussed early in his term on key UN global processes including the contribution of Interpeace to the UN Summit of the Future in 2024 and the Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture in 2025.
“We know that no organisation can single-handedly tackle today’s deeply globalised peace and security challenges and the ways in which they manifest themselves in local communities worldwide. Partnerships between governments and organisations are crucial and these must be accountable to the people they serve. The international community, including humanitarian, development and peace actors, have a responsibility to rethink current approaches and utilise our collective assets,” Kakoma said.
As an international peacebuilding organisation, Interpeace has been at the forefront of creating practical local leadership, design and ownership of conflict resolution processes. Itonde Kakoma is therefore already planning to visit some of the countries where Interpeace is supporting local communities and national governments, beginning in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.
“I am thrilled to be joining Interpeace, where the principles of empowering communities towards national ownership to ensure effective solutions to conflict and crisis is more than just a belief acquired over time – it is part of the organisation’s core identity.”
“We must make a reality of global commitments to women and youth, especially in peace and security but moving from norms to agency and impact. When women and young people are involved in decision-making, outcomes are better quality and more durable for entire communities,” Kakoma added.
“Interpeace is marking 30 years of experience in accompanying states and communities to resolve conflict, build trust, and strengthen social cohesion. It has an equally long history of challenging established concepts in peace-making and developing new methods in service of the international community. Recent work to rethink overly-militarised stabilisation missions and to create new sources of finance for peace are examples of the global public goods that I look forward to supporting to create in the years ahead,” Kakoma said.