Training young officials in the Great Lakes region: Serving peace in the region
From March 26th to April 6th, 2012 was held in Bujumbura the second training program for young officials of the Great Lakes region. The training organized by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) aimed at building the officials capacities in solving effectively the common challenges to the region.
Burundi, Bujumbura – “When I red the content of the training, I immediately realized it was a great opportunity for me to know more about the Great Lakes region. Now, I can say that the region has no secrets for me” asserts Charity Zulu from the Development Cooperation Department of the Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The training brought together 21 participants from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs or equivalent ministries of Angola, Burundi, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Zambia in their countries.
For two weeks, the participants who are key players in negotiations and discussions at regional and international forums have exchanged on the themes of regional integration and energy and natural resources in the Great Lakes region.
Enlightened by the knowledge of international speakers and regional experts, participants were introduced to the concept of regional integration, discussed its impact on the practice of diplomatic relations in the region, analyzed the political dynamics and reflected on the obstacles to regional integration.
While including all stakeholders (private sector, public sector, the international organization, civil society and academia), the two themes were developed in a way to raise awareness among participants on the regional dynamics, priorities and neighboring countries challenges.
"This training led me to imagine possible solutions at my level to the conflicts in the region. Why not, for example, set up a common structure to prevent conflicts. It would advise the Region’s Heads of State” says Melanie Ngalima Nsonga from DR Congo.
Particulary, they discussed the issue of roles, interests, strategies and interactions between peacemakers, conflict entrepreneurs, peace opportunists and peace blockers, four main groups of actors involved in the problem.
“In Sudan peaceful coexistence with our neighbors is one of our main concerns. Is it true that we should find a common ground despite our divergent interests” said Husni Mustafa, working at the Sudanese Embassy in Ethiopia.
All the countries represented at the training have one thing in common: natural resources and energy. Participants were therefore given an opportunity to explore the issue of exploitation and management of various resources such as oil, gas, minerals as well as the management of water resources and hydropower potential of the region.
"My country is in a bad need to improve the management of our natural resources. Learning from ICGLR countries is very interesting "said Husni Mustafa.
This training has also been an opportunity for participants to develop their skills in negotiation and communication. Using situations simulations, they had the opportunity to gain practical knowledge and skills in negotiation.
"In a very short period of time, I have became an accomplished negotiator able to come up with a position and stand for it” assures Charity Zulu.
Networking opportunities arising from these regional programs represent an additional argument in favor of such training. An alumni network actually exists. It includes participants of the first training program to which will now be added the ones from this second and those of future programs. This encourages the dissemination of good practice and maintains close relations between ministries of participating countries.
This training is part of the project training officials ICGLR initiated by SDC. It aims to strengthen the capacities of ICGLR Member States officials and staff of its secretariat as a way of supporting the implementation of the Pact on Peace, Security and Development in the Great Lakes region.
Following the success of the first pilot program established in 2009, SDC has renewed its support to the project implemented by the Institute of International Studies and Development (Graduate Institute) in Geneva.This new phase that will extend over a period of three years (2012-2014) will include two training sessions per year.
For more details, please contact: