21 March 2024, Geneva, Switzerland - To promote cooperation between member states and between member states and international and regional organizations on conflict prevention and response, UNITAR, the African Union, the World Bank Group, in collaboration with the Colombian Permanent Mission to the UN, organized a side event to the 55th session of the Human Rights Council, titled Building Bridges for Peace. An exchange of experiences on DDR and its linkages with human rights, early warning, and conflict prevention between Colombia and African Contexts, that took place on 11 March 2024 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The event was organized in the framework of the UK FCDO-funded joint African Union, United Nations and World Bank programme “Strengthening Operational Linkages between Early Warning and Conflict Response (2023-2025)”. 

The one-hour panel event provided an opportunity for the sharing of knowledge and experiences, in particular from Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as suggestions on how to cooperate in a moment when the prevailing spike in violent conflicts globally and across the African continent is the highest in decades. Emphasis was on exploring the linkages between the reintegration of ex-combatants, human rights and early warning systems to address the conflict's root causes to interrupt and prevent repeating cycles of violent conflict. The discussion touched upon areas like the human rights approach to data collection and analysis as well as the inclusion of women in peace processes.

The event identified practical and relevant insights that will inform the ongoing joint AU-UN-WB partnership, to tailor support to regional actors and member states engaged in the field of prevention and response across the African continent.

The one-hour panel event

The diverse group of panellists featured contributions from distinguished speakers spanning a wide spectrum of partners. Moderated by the Advisor to the World Bank Group, Olivier Mukarji, the panel included speeches from H. E. Amb. Gustavo Gallon, Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the UN; Issaka Garba Abdour, Head of the Governance and Human Rights Division of the African Union; Tania Rodriguez, Programme Director at the Colombian Agency for Reincorporation and Standardization (ARN), Kajima Jeff Kabatunanga, Expert at Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Recovery and Stabilization Program of the Democratic Republic of Congo (P-DDRCS); and Sandra Gonzalez Sanabria, Leader of the Association of Women Producers of Peace Essences (ASMUPROPAZ). 

The event saw the participation of 50 representatives of Member States and UN institutions. A total of 16 countries, besides Colombia and DRC were present (Angola, Australia, Belgium, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Turkiye, USA). 

The panel was followed by refreshments including a selection of Colombian specialities kindly offered by the Permanent Mission of Colombia. 

The video recording of the panel discussion will be made available on UNITAR's official media channels.

For more information - Please Contact

UNITAR Division for Peace: ptp@unitar.org

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