Strategic Partnership for Peace in Western Africa

In 2003, the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to initiate and promote a pilot peace-building project in francophone West Africa. A team of specialists from Europe and Africa developed its concept: The idea was to promote peace on the grass roots and therefore in a more practical manner than by internationally attended coherences.

The implementation began with an inception workshop in Burkina Faso in 2004, attended by representatives of organisations located in Burkina, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. The attending organisations decided to form a platform called PASPA (Partenariat Stratégique pour la Paix en Afrique – Strategic Partnership for Peace in Africa).), consisting of representatives of civil society organisations.

The programme started with a training programme for its members who became themselves trainers. However, PASPA is more than a training institution for its members. From the out start, members developed impacting activities, such as seminars and conferences targeting and sensitising relevant groups, such as the media, youth, and the groups involved in land conflicts. Furthermore, each organisation developed at least one micro project in order to implement the acquired knowledge on a basic level and to increase public attention to their efforts.

In its second phase, which started in 2007, the programme gave special attention to the theme “The media and violent conflicts”. This enabled the participating journalists, but also teachers, youth organisations, judges, officials etc. to develop a code of conduct for journalists and means of influencing the way of reporting on latent conflict situations.

Micro projects in this phase dealt with competitions amongst journalists for the best newspaper article, radio or TV broadcast promoting peace or preventing conflicts. In Ivory Coast a formal working agreement between the Association of Journalists and the local PASPA association was concluded.

The third and last phase of Austrian support to PASPA started in February 2010 with a strategic workshop in Abidjan. The whole programme – as far as Austrian support is concerned – ended in 2011.

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