human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

The African-European civil society conference

A Caritas Africa and Caritas Europa collaboration

Download the workshop summary report

Caritas Africa facilitated a workshop on peace, security and fragility in the EU-Africa partnership, counting with speakers from Caritas organisations in Central Africa Republic, Democratic Republic of  Congo, Liberia, Mali and South Sudan, and with Caritas Europa’s support. The workshop was held under the framework of the African-European civil society conference organised by VENRO, the German network of development civil society organisations, on 16 October.

The conference showed in practical terms that the partnership between Africa and Europe is more than just a formal process between governments, and that civil society can meaningfully contribute to it by providing innovative insights based on the realities of the people on both continents. The conference also provided a space for a diversified group of civil society actors to learn about each other’s innovative strategies to influence the EU-Africa partnership framework, as well as to conceptualise different ways to link AU-EU policy processes to the reality and the well-being of people on the ground.

In this context, Caritas Africa’s workshop gathered speakers from African countries facing security and fragility challenges and in which Caritas organisations implement projects related to peace-building. The speakers’ contributions and the discussions with participants demonstrated the need for the EU and the AU to better rely on local structures, credible local actors and community-level initiatives as pillars to build and preserve peace. For example, European Union delegations could further deepen their engagement and partnerships with faith communities most rooted in local communities and connected to marginalised and vulnerable groups. As illustrated by the speakers’ interventions, these are powerful mechanisms for effective peace efforts and should not be neglected. On the contrary, Caritas Africa and Caritas Europa hope that the upcoming 6th AU-EU Summit will lead to a revamped partnership that is much more grounded on bottom-up approaches and on the role of local and faith actors, as stated in a recent joint position paper.

A detailed account of the points discussed during the workshop and an overview of its take-aways are available in this workshop summary report.