The LPSF has gathered political leaders, researchers, policy actors, practitioners, and youth on a two-day forum in Lomé, capital of peace, mediation, dialogue and tolerance, to provide a cross-sectoral response to the global question: how to strengthen political transitions towards democratic governance in Africa?
Forum participants have been bold in stating and assuming their positions. They have discussed weaknesses and gaps in current approaches but more importantly focused on what can be done better and where to innovate. That is the start of dialogue.
That our gathering took place in Lomé builds on a strong tradition of dialogue, mediation, and transitions for both Togo and the continent.
The recuring theme from opening to closing statements was the need to embrace our African vison for the future that incorporates governance that delivers transparently, independently and with accountably.
The reflections have included managing these periods of crisis or stress to also re-imagining and connecting democratic systems to their people. Situations of recovery, prevention, and building a better future face different challenges but can all provide opportunity. Building strong institutions is the foundation at all points.
Instability and fragilities embodied by security threats were much discussed. There is broad consensus that the response to these threats will include military action but cannot be limited to this. Economic, development, political and social cohesion were all highlighted as areas of extreme importance that cannot be delayed until the security concerns are resolved.
What is less agreed is how to balance our response between these factors and the partnerships required to achieve these outcomes. International response to complex conflicts that embody historic grievances and the more recent manipulation of violent extremism have not evolved to answer the current challenges. What works for stable states with strong institutions is not the same as the requirement for those facing complex conflicts and transitions.
Despite the geopolitical tensions and blockages within the multilateral system the ability to use African leverage and consensus at the global level remains. International and Sub-Regional organisations are needed but must adapt and align to our current realities.
Our contexts and situations all have their own unique features and so too will their solutions. African solutions can also be human solutions and above all must be effective. African experience and innovation will drive us, but global experience and outlooks can complement and grow our input.
This inaugural gathering is just a beginning. Dialogue must stay open in many formats that support and reinforce each other in moving forward.
The Lomé Peace and Security Forum, with commitment and engagement can be a force for Africa.