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Mr. Ramesh Thakur's Vote of Thanks
7 Jan 2014
Members of the IAB, TfP Partners and Norwegian MFA and Embassy representatives gathered at the AU
Members of the IAB, TfP Partners and Norwegian MFA and Embassy representatives gathered at the AU
  Mr Deputy Chairperson, As the senior member of the International Advisory Board (IAB), on behalf of the whole group, I would like to thank you most warmly for the time and attention you have given us today. Excellency, Norway comes to this particular niche diplomacy with some particular assets. Or rather, without some particular baggage. It comes without any colonial history. It has no geopolitical interests. And it has no commercial calculations behind the enterprise. In the 1990s, Norway had the foresight to focus on a geographical area – Africa – that has dominated the world’s peace and security agenda since, and is likely to do so for the foreseeable future. A second respect in which Norway was prescient – well ahead of the times – was in the focus on the civilian aspects of peace operations. Military personnel still dominate peace operations in numbers – without conflict stabilisation and a secure environment, little else can be achieved. But, to borrow language that my good friend Vasu Gounden always uses, soldiers can help to mitigate the killings that conflicts cause, but they cannot transform it into sustainable peace. For that, a focus on civilian aspects is important – in designing peace operations, in training people for successful deployment into missions, and in transferring responsibility progressively to local stakeholders and national authorities. The third key attribute of Training for Peace (TfP) from the very beginning has been the emphasis on North–South and, even more critically, South–South institutional capacity development in Africa, as demonstrated by the various implementing partners represented in this room here today. And finally, the two primary institutional ‘clients’ of TfP have always been the African Union (or OAU as it used to be and now the AU), and the United Nations. To the extent that 60-70 percent of the UN’s peace and security agenda is taken up by Africa, in turn that too puts the focus right back on Africa. The transfer of management responsibility for TfP from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria to that in Addis Ababa is symptomatic of the growing importance of the AU as an institution, and of the need for TfP to connect even more closely with it. Excellency, Thank you therefore for giving us such deep insights into where AU is today and where it is likely to be, or would like to be, in the years and decade ahead. Your observations will help us, the IAB, to provide strategic guidance to shape the future evolution of TfP to make it fit for purpose to service the changing institutional priorities and operational needs of the AU so that the peace established after each conflict is sustainable, robust and resilient.   Ramesh Thakur Addis, 6 November 2013  

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