Dignitaries and African diplomats gathered in Cairo on Monday for the African Union 2012 High Level Retreat of Special Envoys and Mediators.
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission opened the conference, which also features Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr, Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil El Araby, and Ambassador Sajo Jallow, chair of the AU Peace and Security Council.
This is the third consecutive yearly African Union retreat of this kind in Egypt.
The theme of the conference is “Transforming the African peace and security context in the next decade: appraisal and opportunity.” Dr. Yahia Zoubir a professor of international relations and management said “there are still some conflicts in Africa; we have socio-economic problems and problems of governance. The aim is to brainstorm and bring in some fresh ideas to see how the African Union can contribute to the improvement of the situation in the continent.”
Zoubir spoke at the conference on Monday during a session focusing on 21st century conflict trends, especially in the Western Sahara, Mali and Libya. On Libya he said “the situation in spite of the uprising and the removal of the dictatorship, the situation is still fluid and unstable.” He added that as a consequence of the Libyan crisis “some of the weaponry has made its way in to northern Mali but also tribes have returned with ideas of irredentism.”
On Egypt’s role in maintaining peace and security in Africa, Zoubir said, “assuming that the democratisation process works; Egypt could offer a new model. If the transition succeeds, I think it will be a good example for other African countries, especially as Egypt is one of the founding members of the Organisation of African Unity which is now the African Union.”
Zoubir added “we need to work on the issues of governance and we need focus on the area of human security, how to address the real needs of the population to avoid more uprisings, conflicts, inter-ethnic problems and regionalist problems.”
President Mohamed Morsy also invited a number of participants from the retreat to meet him at the presidential palace.
The conference will cover conflict, terrorism, mediation, civil-military relations, and the role of civil society in promoting peace and security.
The retreat will end on Tuesday with the United Nation and Arab League special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, being the final keynote speaker. He will discuss the Middle Eastern crisis, the potential impact on Africa and conflict resolution efforts.