Pictures of the 2019 Luanda Biennale
REPORT OF THE MEETING OF THE MEMBERS OF THE NETWORK OF FOUNDATIONS AND RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS FOR THE PROMOTION OF A CULTURE OF PEACE IN AFRICA
On Saturday, September 21, 2019, the meeting of the members of the Network of Foundations and Research Institutions for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace in Africa was held at the Agostino Neto Memorial in Luanda, Angola, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The following organizations participated in this meeting:
- Eduardo Dos Santos Foundation, Angola
- Antonio Agostino Neto Foundation, Angola
- The UNESCO National Commission of Angola
- The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Foundation, Côte d’Ivoire
- UNESCO Chair for the Culture of Peace, Côte d’Ivoire
- The UNESCO Transdisciplinary Chair in Human Development and Culture of Peace, Italy
- The Pan-African Centre for Gender, Peace and Development, Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), Senegal
Sorry, Professor Charles Binam Bikoi of the International Research and Documentation Centre on African Traditions and Languages (CERDOTOLA) sent his comments and suggestions in writing.
The agenda of the meeting was as follows:
- Welcome address by Mr. Joao de Deus, President of the Network and Director of the Eduardo Dos Santos Foundation
- Review of the Network’s activities and revision of the statutes and internal regulations
- The renewal of the members of the Executive Board
- The presentation of the Laboratory/School of Transdisciplinary Knowledge of Cultures for Sustainable Development and Peace, by Professor Paolo Orefice
- Development and adoption of the action plan
- Closing remarks by the President of the Network
In his opening address, the current President of the Network, Mr. Joao de Deus Pereira, welcomed all participants. He maintained the meeting despite last-minute defections by some Network members who, for various reasons, were unable to travel to Luanda. The major problems in the life of our Network require decisions that can no longer be postponed.
After having the agenda adopted, Mr. Joao de Deus opened the proceedings of the Network’s ordinary meeting.
The floor was given to Mr. Jean-Noël Loucou, Permanent Secretary of the Network for the presentation of the Network’s Activity Report for the calendar year from September 2017 to September 2018. This report contains three sections devoted respectively to the implementation of the recommendations of the last General Assembly, and to the functioning and activities of the Network. On the first point, due diligence was carried out on the Network’s legal recognition procedure, the application for affiliation to UNESCO and the preparation of a budget. On the second point relating to the functioning, the Network held the annual meetings of its General Assembly. It received eight new applications for membership, one of which was confirmed. The Network’s website was completely renovated in 2017 and is managed by a community manager. Finally, the third part of the report referred to scientific and cultural activities. The Network thus organized three scientific symposia and participated, through the President and the Permanent Secretary, in three scientific meetings organized by UNESCO at its Paris headquarters.
After a brief discussion, the report was approved by all participants.
The Assembly then decided on the amendment of the Network’s statutes and rules of procedure. The Articles of Association have been amended to include two auditors and two treasurers. Articles 2, 5, 17 and 18 have been stylistically corrected. A new article (Article 21) has been added on Network projects that receive funding. It reads as follows. “Article 21: These projects shall pay the Network a percentage of between 5 and 10 per cent of the amounts. “The internal regulations have been amended to take into account these amendments to the Articles of Association.
On the renewal of the members of the Executive Bureau of the Network, the participants approved the following list which includes 20 members:
Presidency: Eduardo Dos Santos Foundation (Angola)
Permanent Secretariat: Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation for Peace Research (Côte d’Ivoire).
Deputy Secretariat: Council for the Development of Social Science Research (CODESRIA), Senegal.
Members of the Executive Board
North Africa: Cairo Regional Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping Training (Egypt).
East Africa: University for Peace-Africa Programme (Ethiopia); Centre for Peace and Development Studies (South Sudan).
West Africa: UNESCO Chair for the Culture of Peace (Côte d’Ivoire); Society for Peace Studies (Nigeria); Women Africa Solidarity (FAS), Senegal.
Central Africa: International Research and Documentation Centre on African Traditions and Languages (CERDOTOLA), Cameroon; Agostino Neto Foundation (Angola); Omar Bongo Ondimba Foundation for Peace, Science and Environment (Gabon); UNESCO Chair for the Culture of Peace (Democratic Republic of Congo).
Southern Africa: UNESCO “Oliver Tambo” Chair for Human Rights (South Africa); Observatory of Cultural Policies in Africa (OCPA), Mozambique.
Diaspora: Whitaker Initiative for Peace and Development (United States).
Regional institutions: Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Ethiopia.
Non-Regional: Culture of Peace Foundation (Spain); Centre d’Etude et de Prospective Stratégique (CEPS), France; UNESCO Transdisciplinary Chair in Human Development and Culture of Peace (Italy).
The headquarters of the Network is located in Yamoussoukro (Côte d’Ivoire), at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Foundation for Peace Research.
The fourth item on the agenda was devoted to the presentation by Professor Paolo Orefice of the Laboratory/School of Transdisciplinary Knowledge of Cultures for Sustainable Development and Peace, which is part of the 2017/2021 project of the UNESCO Chair at the University of Florence (Italy). It is in line with the sustainable development objectives of Agenda 2030.
Finally, the Assembly elaborated and adopted an action plan that defines the actions to be carried out by the Network in the short and medium term.
In his closing address, the President of the Network, Mr. Joao de Deus, thanked the participants for their presence and active participation in the life of the Network. He called for the rapid implementation of the action plan and greater visibility of foundations and research institutions and their activities among citizens and national and international institutions.
Done at Luanda, September 21, 2019
The Permanent Secretary of the Network
HOPE FOR PEACE IN THE HOLY LAND
If we look at the news and consider only the short-term, peace seems very distant between Israelis and Palestinians. But if we take a long-term historical view, there is reason to hope.
We begin with the short-term news.
The first two Muslim-American women in Congress, Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were barred from visiting Israel and the Occupied Territories, presumably because they support the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. Commenting on this, Richard Falk, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian occupied territories, remarks that this was due to the “unhealthy relationship” that has evolved between the US and Israeli Presidents Trump and Netanyahu. For example, Trump had tweeted that Ilhan Omar and Rashid Tlaib, hate Israel and all Jews.
Also in recent news, Democracy Now featured an interview with a Palestinian girl, Janna Jihad, who, at the age of 13 years, continues to expose the Israeli occupation of Gaza. She started telling stories about her home of Nabi Saleh when she was only 7, after her cousin and her uncle were killed in the village. Since then, Janna has shared countless videos about Palestinian resistance with viewers around the world, on Twitter, on YouTube, on Facebook, garnering tens of thousands of followers. Asked by Amy what she thought could be the solution, Janna replied “For me, the one-state solution is the solution that would work. It can be that all of us could live together, same rights, under one government, getting exactly the same rights, me like the same as any other person. And all the refugees could come back to Palestine. All the people could live in peace, just in equality.”
There is more hope if we look at the long-term.
Dr. Bahan Bastani traces the history of cultural interactions between Islam and Judaism, Muslims and Jews. He reminds us that during the Golden Age of Islamic Civilization, 9th-12th centuries, both the Muslim and the Jewish civilizations flourished in the Islamic centers of higher learning in Baghdad and al-Andalusia-Spain, and the Muslim territories was safe heaven for the Jewry of the world. In the fertile multicultural environment of al-Andulus, the Jewish and Muslim scholars made significant strides in astronomy, astrology, optics, geometry, medicine, philosophy, and literary works. Also, when Spain fell under the Spanish Catholic rule in 1492 and the Jews were being persecuted, it was the Ottoman Empire that send ships to rescue the Jews from Spain into the Muslim territories. For the following three centuries, the Jews in the Turkish Muslim Ottoman Empire ascended to high positions as court physicians and as foreign diplomats.
An even longer term view is taken by the Palestinian Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh who traces the history of the Land of Canaan. He begins with the dawn of civilization which took place in this region when people went from hunter-gatherers to agricultural communities. For the first 12,000 years there was very little conflict. “Palestine was multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural and multilingual society.”
If you go back before the present conflict, you would go to the Crusaders, 1190 AD. Like the present conflict, that, too, came from outside.” But, as Qumsiyeh says, “the patient is not hopeless . . . in biology when I look at the forest and I see one species dominate I don’t say this is a healthy forest. I say this is unhealthy, it’s going to decline. The strength comes from diversity, so we say that’s what will happen here and that’s another reason why I’m optimistic – we fight for equality and to maintain the country the way it was supposed to be: multi-ethnic multi-cultural and multi-religious.
Looking at the present times, Rabbi Michael Lerner says it compounds the problem to say simply that “Israel is a racist society and most Israelis are racists.” Instead of dismissing those who disagree, leftist activists need to understand the historical origins of Zionist attitudes, coming not only from the Holocaust, but also the experience of Jews from former Communist countries and those coming from Arab countries who were disrespected by Jews of European origin. He concludes “The outrageous actions of the Jewish majority in becoming oppressors of the Palestinians will remain, for thousands of years into the future, one of the most disgraceful moments in Jewish history. But it won’t be overturned until we can develop a new politics of compassion for both sides, and a renewed belief that people can be reached if we start from a perspective of respect and caring for them, even when we disagree with their current political proclivities.”
As long-time peace activists Len and Libby Traubman have put it: “An enemy is one whose story we have not heard.”
“Can Zionism be redeemed?” The question is explored by Tikkun writer Yehezkel Landau. He sees hope in the mutual struggle of Israelis and Palestinians against the degradation of the environment as exemplified in the annual climate march. “When it was first organized five years ago, some 200 people took part. This year over 5,000 people marched, Palestinian and Jewish citizens from all over Israel. They carried banners proclaiming mutual solidarity in the face of environmental threats and the need to work together to ensure a common future. . . We need more signs of hope like these to boost our spirits and motivate action, within our respective communities and across boundaries.”
Meanwhile, the struggle for justice goes on. Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and a co-founder of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, urges support for the BDS in the face of attempts by the US Congress to suppress it. He reminds us that “BDS calls for Palestinian liberation on terms of full equality with Israelis and categorically opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.” And he concludes that “Our hope remains alive as we witness an inspiring shift in public opinion in favor of Palestinian human rights.”
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