World Economic Forum on Africa 2010

  • War, Peace and the Right to Protect

    Wednesday 5th May 2010 - 8:00pm - 9:30pm

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    The transition from war to peace in a society is a fragile process that can be shattered at any moment. The right to protect can strengthen the transition by avoiding the devastation of a society and the dissolution of its bonds.

    Join us for this inspirational dinner to discuss how African states and regional bodies can coordinate their efforts to strengthen this fragile transition from war to peace.

    This session is off the record.

    Key Points

    • Humanitarian catastrophes have characterized Africa’s history; since the end of the cold war over 9 million conflict deaths have occurred in Africa
    • The political will to intervene has often been lacking
    • If Africa leads, the international community will follow. The emerging norm of a “responsibility to protect” is gaining ground
    • Africa and the international community can learn many lessons from past traumatic experiences as well as from positive models of African development


    Mass violence, civil wars, large-scale human rights abuses and extreme poverty have marred 20th century Africa. The catastrophes in Rwanda and Darfur mark the most extreme recent cases. Genocide is always a state-organized crime, with the common element being exclusion of minorities from mainstream society based on ethnicity. Ethno-politics and state failure are closely linked – weak or failed states threaten to become genocidal states.

    How can 21st century Africa avoid repeating this tragic history?

    First, Africa must take the lead. The traditions of African solidarity and African “silence” have become more of a liability than an asset. Regional leaders should remember that their own legitimacy depends on action in the face of humanitarian crises. Two opposing forces need to be reconciled – the cry of victims and the zeal of perpetrators. The personal courage of leaders is paramount.

    Second, the international community must support Africa with new mechanisms for early action when a state fails to protect its civilians. The emerging norm of a “responsibility to protect” is gaining ground, though it is not yet universally adopted and it remains a complex area. What is clear is that rapid response is key – through early warning systems (“genocide alerts”), humanitarian operations, monitoring missions and diplomatic pressure – and with force as a last resort. Post-conflict rebuilding is often underemphasized but is just as important, especially rebuilding state institutions, capacity and reinstating the rule of law. Clear international commitment is required to deter would-be spoilers.

    In terms of prevention, development is the first line of defence. Combating poverty will not only save millions of lives but also strengthen the capacity of states to combat organized crime, terrorism and corruption.

    Above all, world leaders must recognize that, in an interconnected world, a threat to one is a threat to all. The erosion of state capacity anywhere in the world weakens the protection of every state against transnational threats. Every state requires strong regional leadership and international cooperation to make it secure.

    Discussion Leaders

    Eddy Gicheru Oketch

    , Global Changemaker, Kenya

    Søren Pind

    , Minister of Development Cooperation of Denmark

    Karen I. Tse

    , Chief Executive Officer, International Bridges to Justice, Switzerland

    Morgan Tsvangirai

    , Prime Minister of Zimbabwe

    Moderated by

    Sarah Childress

    , Correspondent, Africa, Wall Street Journal, Kenya


    This summary was prepared by Gareth Shepherd. The views expressed are those of certain participants in the discussion and do not necessarily reflect the views of all participants or of the World Economic Forum.

    Copyright 2010 World Economic Forum
    No part of this material may be copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or redistributed without the prior written consent of the World Economic Forum.


  • Morgan Tsvangirai Morgan Tsvangirai
    President, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe

    1986, diploma in Employment Services, Cresta College, United Kingdom. 1972-74, Textile Factory Worke...

  • Kimmie Weeks Kimmie Weeks
    Founder and Executive Director, Youth Action International (YAI), Liberia

    Degree, Amherst College; Master's, Univ. of Pennsylvania. Civil war survivor. Experience in forming ...

  • Karen I. Tse Karen I. Tse
    Chief Executive Officer, International Bridges to Justice, Switzerland

    Graduate, UCLA Law School and Harvard Divinity School. International human rights attorney and Unita...

  • Eddy Gicheru Oketch Eddy Gicheru Oketch
    Global Changemaker, Kenya

    Currently in final year of high school, African Leadership Academy. 2005, age 14, Chief Campaigner i...

  • Søren Pind Søren Pind
    Minister of Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs of Denmark

    1997, Master's in Law, University of Copenhagen. Member, Liberal Party. 1998-2006, Mayor, with respo...

Moderated by

  • Sarah Childress Sarah Childress
    Correspondent, Africa, Wall Street Journal, Kenya

    Graduate, University of Notre Dame. Formerly: with Newsweek magazine, covering national news and Ira...