Introduction: Concept and Origin
With the With the aim of playing a crucial role in bringing about sustainable peace and contributing to the implementation of the African Union Tripoli Declaration of August 2009, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University convenes an annual forum on security called the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, or Tana Forum in short. This initiative is a response to the declaration’s appeal for “African-centred solutions”, and its call for the treatment of peace and security as a collective “intellectual challenge”.
As a result, the annual Tana Forum emerged as an independent platform initiated by IPSS and eminent African personalities, including Meles Zenawi, the late Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The Forum is an informal gathering of African decision-makers, peace and security stakeholder groups, and their larger constituencies for an open discussion of security issues and challenges faced by the continent.
Overall and specific objectives
The overall objective of the Tana Forum is to facilitate a platform where African peace and security issues are discussed and followed up by African decision-makers and peace and security stakeholder groups in an open and unceremonious setting. Specifically, the Forum aims at:
- Providing opportunities to decision-making leaders and institutions to exchange experiences and insights on peace and security issues among themselves with a view to taking home inspiration and practical lessons;
- Giving opportunities to political decision-makers to interact and consult with a broad-based African constituency as well as with key global actors;
- Contributing to a substantive African open debate on peace and security issues of key and strategic importance to the continent and its regional institutions;
- Communicating with and listening to “profound African voices on the ground” on various dimensions and components of peace and security on the continent, thus facilitating an inclusive dialogue among governments and other African security stakeholder groups;
- Sensitizing and mobilizing other stakeholders, actors and the overall African opinion for larger ownership of Africa-owned solutions on peace and security.
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Public Lecture/Vice Chancellor’s Dialogue
The annual Public Lecture/Vice Chancellor’s Dialogue at Bahir Dar University are pre-forum events jointly organized by the Forum Secretariat and Bahir Dar University featuring prominent African experts from universities across the continent. Universities are ideal platforms to actively engage the youth on peace and security issues on the continent. The lecture/debate offers a unique opportunity for students to interact and consult with a broad-based constituency, including with the wider research and academic community.
Annual University Essay Competition
The Tana Forum Annual University Essay Competition is one of a series of pre-forum activities organized by the Secretariat aimed at facilitating discussions on the theme of the year. This year’s theme, “Political Dynamics in the Horn of Africa: Securing the Emerging Peace Trend”, reflects the urgent need to discuss, debate and establish a thorough understanding of the principle of ownership by the AU in delivering its mandate, particularly in the peace and security landscape.
Now in its fifth year, the annual essay competition is further aimed at obtaining views from the youth on various peace and security challenges faced across the continent. The competition is open to African nationals enrolled in higher education institutions based in Africa and the diaspora.
The Tana Forum, in collaboration with Bahir Dar University, organizes a public lecture on the eve of the Forum in order to involve young people in the Forum. Universities are ideal platforms to actively engage the young generation on peace and security issues on the continent as they will become future leaders, policy and decisionmakers, and researchers.
Ambassadors’ Briefing and Press Conference
Each year, diplomatic representatives from various embassies in Addis Ababa attend the annual Ambassadors’ Briefing held in preparation of the Tana Forum. This is an opportunity for diplomats to inform themselves of the content and protocol of the year’s Forum, as well as communicate to their home countries the significance of the issues that will be discussed at the Forum.
A press conference is organized every year to engage with local, regional and international journalists based in Addis Ababa. The Tana Forum Secretariat briefs the media on the year’s theme, expected participants, and instructions on how apply to cover the Forum.
The main objective of the multi-stakeholder pre-forum is to draw attention to the current peace and security agenda in Africa, deepen policymakers’ understanding in this area, and encourage them to implement agreed-upon policies in their respective countries or region (“from policy to practice”). The aim of the meeting is to make open, critical and substantive contributions to the theme from a policy and technical level perspective.
The objective of the annual Tana Post-Forum is to review, discuss and provide further thought to the theme of the year with the aim of generating new policy recommendations and initiating plans of action.
From 18 to 19 July 2018, over 50 experts, drawn from Member States (MS), the African Union (AU), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), embassies accredited to the Republic of Botswana, development partners, civil society organizations (CSOs), academia, and think tanks from across Africa, US and Europe met in Gaborone, Botswana to discuss: “The Content and Shape of the Peace and Security Agenda in the Post-Reform Era: Reflections from the 7th Tana Forum”.
The post-forum was jointly organized with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and took place in Gaborone, Botswana.
The Tana Forum Secretariat organizes an annual Experts Workshop to review analyze documents produced for the Forum. The workshop brings together experts from across the continent to provide input on documents that will guide the Forum discussion, such as the annual State of Peace and Security in Africa (SPSA) report and Tana Policy Papers, both of which are specially published for the Forum each year.
Participation of young people in policy-making is critical to the maintenance and strengthening of democracy. The Tana Forum strives to provide a platform for young Africans through an annual youth engagement and mobilization platform that takes the form of a debate or discussion on pertinent issues affecting young Africans.
The 8th Tana Forum, taking place from 4th to 5th May in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, will discuss the theme of: “Political Dynamics in the Horn of Africa: Nurturing the Emerging Peace Trends”.
In line with recent political developments in the Horn of Africa and the remarkable rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea to address the border conflict through negotiation, this year’s Tana Forum will deliberate on ways to support the political dynamics and pertinent geopolitical matters unfolding in the region.
The Forum complements formal meetings of African heads of state and government by gathering them in an informal, collaborative environment. In the spirit of discussions taking place under the Baobab tree, the Forum offers room and space for panel discussions, interaction with the floor and bilateral talks to share views and experiences in a time efficient, result-oriented and open manner.
Meles Zenawi Lecture Series
As per the tradition of the Tana Forum, the annual Meles Zenawi Lecture pays tribute to a prominent African leader. In 2019, the lecture will pay tribute to the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician.
Born in September 1936, the life of Madikizela-Mandela encompassed commitments to community upliftment, opposition to apartheid and determination to build a non-racist, non-sexist and democratic South Africa.
Previous Meles Zenawi Lectures have discussed the following leaders:
- 2nd Tana Forum: Lecture on Meles Zenawi delivered by Professor Andreas Eshete (2013)
- 3rd Tana Forum: Lecture on Nelson Mandela delivered by Adebayo Olukoshi (2014)
- 4thTana Forum: Lecture on Kwame Nkrumah delivered by Ali Mufuruki (2015)
- 5th Tana Forum: Lecture on Patrice Lumumba delivered by Elikia M’Bokolo (2016)
- 6th Tana Forum: Lecture on Wangari Mathaai delivered by Akere T. Muna (2017)
- 7th Tana Forum: Lecture on Abdel Nasser delivered by Samia Nkrumah (2018)
State of Peace and Security in Africa
This State of Peace and Security in Africa (SPSA) report is a background paper prepared annually for the Tana Forum. It provides contextual information that informs the nature and quality of debate on peace and security issues. It also sets the stage, guides the conversation, and ultimately helps in shaping the debate around the theme of the year.
Presented annually during the opening ceremony, the report also offers a panoramic view of the African security landscape by assessing the factors of insecurity associated with the theme of the year and indicating the current trends and crosscutting issues causing insecurity for citizens across the continent.
The SPSA Report is expected to provide a succinct overview and analysis of the most salient conflict trends and offer a nuanced understanding of the efforts and responses that are designed to manage complex peace and security challenges on the continent.
Annual Book Launch
One of the key activities of the Tana Forum is the Annual Book Launch, where published authors – both African and non-African – have the opportunity to present their books on peace, security, governance or development.
The Forum provides an opportunity for authors to present their books to the Forum’s participants, a diverse gathering of African heads of state and government, decision-makers at the AU, UN and other international organizations, academia and members of civil society.
For the 7th Tana Forum in 2018, the selected book was “New Fringe Pastoralism: Conflict, Security and Development in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel” published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).
The first book launch for the 6th Tana Forum in 2017, the selected book was “Making Africa Work”, published by President Olusegun Obasanjo, Greg Mills, Dickie Davis and Jeffrey Herbst.
For the 8th Tana Forum, set to take place on 4-5 May 2019, interested authors are invited to submit their book proposals to the Tana Forum Secretariat. Authors should submit the following to email@example.com before 28 February 2019:
- An expression of interest stating: the title of book, publication date and edition, language, and significance to the Forum;
- Abstract (max 500 words);
- Author(s) biography and;
Submissions will be reviewed by a committee consisting of internal and external reviewers. Shortlisted authors will be asked to submit the full text of the book in soft copy. The copy will not be distributed beyond the review committee. Only one book will be featured at the launch.
Side events at Tana
In the warm up to the 8th Tana Forum, there will be three parallel side events on Friday, 3 May 2019. The side events will be held at the Blue Nile Resort (the Forum venue) in the garden adjacent to Lake Tana.
Cooperation or Confrontation along the Horn of Africa?
Tana Forum in collaboration with the Munich Security Conference
How Economic Integration Affects a Continent’s Security: Lessons from the EU and AU
Tana Forum in collaboration with the European Union
Implications for Multilateralism and Multi-Polarity in the Horn of Africa
Tana Forum side event in collaboration with the African Union, the United Nations, and the United States Institute of Peace
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org