March 2011: Exchange meeting in Ouagadougou for peace builders and Human Rights defenders coming from different African Countries
From March 7th to 11th the Yiriwa from Burkina Faso and Peace Resources Group have organized an exchange meeting with 26 participants coming from Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Chad, CAR, DRC, Burkina Faso, Kenya and Germany.
Ka gounou gounou, ka gounou ka Ké - Ka gounou gounou, ka gounou ka Ké, ka ké, ka ké.
This Manding saying, meaning “we talk to each other and then we act” became the slogan of the meeting. This was one of the objectives of the meeting, reflect together and find topics around which the participants may continue to collaborate.
Experiences show that peace builders and Human Rights defenders work often in a hostile and conflict loaded environment. Threats, intimidations, arbitrary arrest trouble these people. Powerful actors create obstacles for peace building and push new ideas aside. The meeting was a room for exchange, inspiration and retreat and has allowed the participants to find strength, creativity and mutual support for their work. The meeting has helped to deepen reflection and to refine strategies and tools.
The participants focused on the approach Conflict in Context; the question on how to contribute to my security as well as on obstacles to peace and the respect of Human Rights. The open space method helped to discuss different topics. At the end of the meeting participants tried to find topics and strategies for the consolidation of the exchange and the promotion of further collaboration in a decentralized way.
The meetings’ concept has mobilized participants and organizers. Combining exchange, workshops, informal meetings, excursion, retreat, identification of common interests and input on specific topics has allowed producing new ideas and projects.
Peace builders as well as Human Rights defenders have participated. The two types of participants could identify common ground but have also realized that they do not know in detail the concepts and approaches of the others. The meeting has helped to better understand those differences but there is need for more exchange in order to create synergy.
No doubt, peace building and Human Rights promotion needs credible action and behavior, well reflected and coordinated action and strategies. To transform conflict and to promote Human Rights there is need to create trust and to create innovative and creative ideas and ways for change. And there is need to create synergy between actors and strategies. The meeting was a small contribution to create trust and the needed synergy.