As the peace and security terrain in Africa continues to change radically, wrong-footing both the UN and the African Union, the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa has set itself up as Africa's premiere grouping to work on African-led solutions to the continent's peace and security challenge. Desmond Davies report
When the late Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, and several African leaders, came up with the idea of the Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, he knew how important such a platform would be for the continent. After all, his country in its conflict with Eritrea had suffered the potentially avoidable consequences of war. The two nations spent millions of dollars on weapons fighting over a tiny strip of land while the casualties on both sides amounted to tens of thousands. In the end, neither side got its way.
The Forum has evolved since 2012 and is beginning to drive Africa's ambitions of taking responsibility for its peace and security challenges. The late Ethiopian leader noted: "The hope and expectation is that [the Forum] will grow from strength to strength every year to rival and even surpass the only similar institution that I know of, the Munich Security Conference."
The fifth edition of the Forum is taking place on 16-17 April, again in the Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar, on the shores of Lake Tana. Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general, is this year's keynote speaker and the theme of the gathering, which will be attended by heads of state, policy makers and decision makers, is Africa in the Global Security Agenda.
Africa is now locked into the global fight against terrorism and instability that has been aggravated by the fallout from the NATO air strikes against Libya that led to the removal from power of Col. Muammar Gaddafi. The former President of Nigeria, General Olusegun Obasanjo, told a pre-Tana Forum press conference in Addis Ababa: "The repercussions are now being felt in Mali, Nigeria and the Sahel."
But he was quick to point out that outsiders were not to be totally blamed for instability in Africa--noting that some African leaders were at fault. Gen. Obasanjo said leaders were failing their people because they had not been able to prevent marginalisation in their societies; prevent injustice; reduce unemployment; reduce poverty; and that they had not embraced democracy and good governance.
His forthright statement is indicative of the nature of the Tana Forum. It...