Partnership built on trust – celebrating a decade of cooperation with the African Union

Published on Friday, 11th of December 2020

CMI’s partnership with the African Union, supported by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, is one of CMI’s longest institutional relationships. Joint work started already in 2009, and has only strengthened over the years. To celebrate this longstanding partnership, CMI, AU and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs held a seminar on 10 December to look back at the work done together and reflect on the steps ahead.

Ambassor Sirpa Mäenpää, Coordinator for Silencing the Guns at the AU Commission Abdelkader Araoua, Acting Executive Director Hanna Klinge (CMI), Project Manager Juhana Lehtinen (CMI), AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaїl Chergui, Project Officer Erika Paakkinen, Coordinator of the Secretariat of Panel of the Wise/ FemWise-Africa Mukondeleli Mpeiwa, Head of Sub-Saharan Africa Tiina Kukkamaa-Bah (CMI) and Director for Global Strategy Itonde Kakoma (CMI).

Last year marked the 10th anniversary of the partnership between the African Union (AU) and CMI and witnessed the launch of the new African Union Conflict Prevention and Mediation Capacities Support Project, funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA). This three-year project builds on previous inputs by CMI to provide tailored, flexible and demands-based support to the AU Peace and Security Department’s conflict resolution and mediation work.

This collaboration has sought to strengthen the AU’s institutional capacity and procedures in mediation, and produce qualified mediators and experts. The AU’s annual high-level retreat is considered to be the flagship activity of this cooperation. Other achievements have been contribution to the creation of the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PanWise),  and the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa).

The celebratory seminar was held to mark the long-standing partnership and the new partnership agreement. CMI’s Acting Executive Director Hanna Klinge opened the event, followed by keynote speeches by H.E. Smaїl Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security; Gunvor Kronman, Vice Chair of CMI Board; and Claus Lindroos; Deputy Director General of the Department for Africa and the Middle East from the Finnish MFA

“This is a durable partnership which we want to reinforce to prevent and resolve conflicts. We have a lot to learn from each other”, said Commissioner Chergui. He emphasized that terrorism, climate change and the Covid-19 crisis constitute threats to peace in the continent.

Claus Lindroos and Gunvor Kronman highlighted the importance of and need for cooperation in complex conflicts. “The African Union has an increasing role in mediating conflicts in the region. We’re happy that we can in our small way contribute to these efforts”, Gunvor Kronman said. 

“Strengthening the voice and actions of women”

After the ceremonial signing of the partnership agreement, Mukondeleli Mpeiwa, Coordinator of the Secretariat of Panel of the Wise/ FemWise-Africa;  Itonde Kakoma, CMI’s Director for Global Strategy, and Ambassador Sirpa Mäenpää, of the Centre for Mediation discussed the highlights of the past and key lessons learned for the future of the partnership.

“Founding the Panel of the Wise and FemWise-Africa have really strengthened the voice and actions of women around the continent”, said Mukondeleli Mpeiwa. She explained that the highlights of the collaboration for her have been the empowerment of women and enhancement of women’s participation in peacemaking.  

Itonde Kakoma noted that the partnership, built on trust, allows for flexible cooperation. Ambassador Mäenpää also stressed the importance of trust between the partners, and expressed hope that the situation will remain so in the future too.

CMI’s Programme Director Ville Brummer concluded the event by saying that CMI is honoured to be working with the AU, and lauded the AU on its effective work on conflict prevention and resolution. “There’s no other regional organisation with the same capacity, and there’s a lot we can learn from the union through this partnership.”