Yesterday, the International Meeting on Preventive Diplomacy in Sub-Saharan Africa was held at Casa Africa, Las Palmas. The meeting was opened by Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, Vice-president of the Spanish Government; Catherine Samba Panza, former president of the Central African Republic, Pedro Ortega, Regional Minister of Economy, Industry, Commerce and Knowledge Management of the Canary Government, Augusto Hidalgo, Mayor of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Luis Padron, Director General of Casa Africa, attended the ceremony.
As the Vice-president of the Government stated in her opening comments, preventive diplomacy includes those mechanisms and instruments aimed at avoiding focal points of tension developing into open conflict, with incalculable human and material costs and social rupture that take years to heal. The prevention of conflicts covers an ample spectrum of action, from classic diplomacy to development policies, as well as prevention of extremism and gender policies.
Diplomacy based on prevention is one of the pillars of the mandate of the current Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres. During its time in the Security Council, recently concluded, Spain has made promotion and development of preventive diplomacy one of its greatest priorities. This meeting follows upon the meeting concerning preventive diplomacy in the Mediterranean, held at Casa Mediterraneo, Alicante, in June 2016.
In the meeting at Casa Africa there were personalities of great political relevance in Africa, such as the aforementioned Catherine Samba Panza, whose role has been crucial in the political transition of her country, or the journalist and holder of the Principe de Asturias Prize for Concorde, Caddy Adzuba.
Other high-ranking officials from the United Nations and the European Union also participated, as well as leading figures in African multilateralism, representing the following regional organisations: the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the East African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and G5-Sahel. The contribution to the debates by the former Vice-president of Government and current President of the Women for Africa Foundation, Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, is also worthy of mention.
Work was organised by means of three panels in which the following matters, respectively, were discussed: diplomacy for peace and prevention of violent extremism; the role of women to achieve peace in Africa; and the role of the African multilateral organisations for peace and development. During these sessions the role of preventive diplomacy was noted as guarantor of peace and stability in a region which is growing and integrating, but which is still subject to enormous political, economic and ethnic tensions.
At the end of the debates, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ildefonso Castro, read out the conclusions which contained concrete proposals made by the panellists to boost the efficiency of these mechanisms. In his concluding words, the Secretary of State underlined the commitment of Spain to preventive diplomacy, the results of which are ever more visible thanks to the efforts and dedication of people such as the participants in this conference, and he indicated that in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria “we have opened a pathway – that of knowledge of preventive diplomacy in Sub-Saharan Africa – which is set to last”.