Media and Conflict: A Conference of West African journalists and researchers
Praia, Cape Verde, December 12, 13, 14
The final conference of The West African Peace Initiative (WAPI), a major project of the West African Research Association, brought together researchers and journalists from 14 West African countries. This exchange between journalists and researchers led to rich discussions and to a commitment to continuing collaboration across national and professional boundaries in the interest of building and maintaining sustainable peace in the region.
Present at the opening ceremony were the Honorable Pedro Pires, former president of Cape Verde; the Honorable Jorge Borges, Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Her Excellency Adrienne O’Neal, US Ambassador to Cape Verde. The conference was opened by President Pires, who gave a keynote address on the challenges of peacebuilding in the region, with particular emphasis on the key role played by Cape Verde in brokering peace in recent conflicts.
The first day of the conference was devoted to reports by WAPI Fellows on the research they had conducted on various aspects of conflict resolution in the region. In addition to academic researchers, we heard from two artists who brought their particular approaches to the questions of security and peace.
Day two of the conference, organized by Cape Verdean scholars and policy makers, provided a view of the Cape Verdean experience. Presentations focused on the democratic process in Cape Verde, the accomplishments and challenges of creating and maintaining an open and participatory society. The first session was chaired by the Honorable Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiros, former president of Cape Verde, and the second by Colonel Antero Matos of the Cape Verdean Ministry of Defense. The afternoon included a visit to the historic Cidade Velha where conference participants were treated to a sumptuous Cape Verdean meal, complete with live music. In the evening, the mayor of Praia hosted a reception for the conference and a walking tour of downtown Praia.
The final day of the conference was devoted to the work of 11 of the journalists who had participated in the Dakar Journalism Institute, which was an integral part of the WAPI project. Each had conducted a research project, exploring the role of media in peace and conflict.
The closing address for the conference was presented by the Honorable Jorge Carlos Fonseca, President of Cape Verde, who underscored the importance of this conference and of continuing efforts to build cultures of peace.
This conference was the result of close collaboration with WARA’s Cape Verdean colleagues. The first activity we have held in a Lusophone country, this marks what we hope will be the beginning of a long and fruitful collaboration with this important part of West Africa. The conference was also a milestone in bringing together two groups who rarely have the opportunity for in-depth interaction, and whose role in peacekeeping is critical: journalists and researchers.
WAPI is funded through a generous grant from the US State Department