The following article was provided by the Embassy of Angola in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
We live in an increasingly globalized world, with interdependent challenges between nations and peoples, in which diplomatic efforts to preserve peace and stability within the spirit of multilateralism have never been more urgent and relevant to the future of humanity.
In this context, within the scope of the Angolan Government's diplomatic initiatives for the prevention, management and resolution of regional conflicts and of the efforts of the African Union (AU) in the search for “African solutions to African problems”, it is being held, from 4 to 8 of October 2021, the second edition of the Biennale of Luanda.
Assuming that conflict is one of the driving forces of social change and an essential element in the evolution of human relations, its management requires increasingly careful and inclusive national commitments, especially in this international environment of great challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and threats arising from terrorism, extreme violence and transnational crimes, among others.
While in the past political stability was guaranteed by resorting to the threat of military force, in nowadays it is achieved through democratic systems in which conflict is managed through a combination of endeavors, dialogue, mediation and commitment, in the search for political solutions in which all concerned parties can and should feel included.
Experience has shown, especially in the African context, that the preservation of peace does not only depend on the signing of political, economic or military agreements, but above all, on the active, deep and patriotic engagement of the citizens of a country, united in its social, religious or party diversity in defense of the Common Good.
The culture of peace, this set of values, attitudes and behaviors that reflect respect for life, human beings and their dignity and must be disseminated and practiced by each and every one, puts human rights at the forefront, condemns violence in all its forms and promotes adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, solidarity and tolerance.
As a country that experienced decades of violence and divisions before achieving its national unity and stability in 2002, Angola defends peace as a comprehensive and dynamic process that requires non-violent relations either between States and/or between them and their citizens, either between individuals, social groups, human beings and their environment. Thus, as part of its diplomatic strategy for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts, Angola decided to organize the 1st Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace – Biennale of Luanda, in the Angolan capital, from 18 to 22 of September 2019, in partnership with the AU and UNESCO. This commitment is in line with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which states in its Article 12 that “Member States undertake to implement programs and carry out activities aimed at promoting democratic principles and practices, and consolidating culture of democracy and peace”.
The 24th Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted Decision 558/XXIV in January 2015 which requested the Commission to “take all 3 appropriate measures, in consultation with UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Angola, for the organization of the Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace in Africa – Biennale of Luanda", in line with the Action Plan for a Culture of Peace in Africa, approved in Luanda, Angola, in 2013, at the Pan- Africa on “Sources and Resources for a Culture of Peace”.
In this context, the Angolan Government and UNESCO agreed on December 18, 2018 to hold the 1st Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace in Africa – Biennale of Luanda, in September 2019, with the aim of strengthening the Pan-African movement for a culture of peace and non-violence, through the establishment of a multilateral partnership between governments, civil society, the artistic and scientific community, the private sector and international organizations.
This first edition of the Biennale of Luanda, which took place from 18 to 22 of September 2019, was based on three main axes:
a. The Partners Forum – An Alliance for Africa;
b. Thematic Fora: Ideas Forum, Youth Forum and Women's Forum;
c. Festival of Cultures.
In addition to the host, His Excellency João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, there were also present at the Opening Ceremony, His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, then President of the Republic of Mali and Champion of the African Union for Culture, His Excellency Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, His Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Hon. Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, and the Hon. Mr. Denis Mukwegi, Nobel Peace Prize 2018.
More than sixty countries participated in the Biennale of Luanda, with Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Morocco, Namibia, Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Portugal represented by official delegations, including members of the government. Officials from international regional organizations, such as the AU and the United Nations, personalities from the world of music, sport, arts (including here the Korea-Africa Foundation), as well as the private sector were also present at the various activities of the Biennale of Luanda, which for five days brought together nearly three thousand people, including delegates and participants.
In his opening speech, His Excellency João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola welcomed the close collaboration between the Angolan Government and the African Union and UNESCO.
He considered as a privileged space for the promotion of cultural diversity and African unity, the Biennale of Luanda is a unique platform for governments, civil society, artistic and scientific community, private sector and international organizations to discuss and define strategies for the prevention of violence and conflict with a view to building lasting peace.
As a result of this inclusive trend, it encouraged the participation of young people from Angola, Africa and the diaspora as a guarantee for the emergence of a force, through the exchange of innovative ideas, to solve the socio-economic problems facing Africa.
The 1st Edition of the Biennale of Luanda represented an important contribution to the promotion of a culture of peace in Africa leading to the strengthening of the national unity of States, the eradication of poverty and the reduction of inequalities, respect for human rights and democratic institutions, as well as the promotion of freedom of expression, the preservation of cultural and political diversity and the protection of the environment.
In terms of 4th Aspiration of Agenda 2063 and its flagship project “Silencing Weapons”, the AU clearly defines its commitment to the culture of peace and tolerance that must be developed in the children and youth of Africa through education. Furthermore, the Preamble of its Constitution states that “since wars have begun in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be built”.
In the Declaration of the 14th Extraordinary AU Summit dedicated to the theme “Silencing the Guns” adopted on December 6, 2020, the Heads of State and Government agreed to mobilize all available AU instruments for the participation of Women and Youth in efforts to peace and development in Africa. On the other hand, the Final Communiqué of the 1st Edition of the Biennale of Luanda identified a series of areas and themes that should require particular attention for the dissemination and promotion of a culture of peace in Africa in a comprehensive way, including through formal and informal education.
In this regard, the Biennale of Luanda offered a unique African platform for exchanging views and defining strategies for preventing violence and conflict with a view to building lasting peace in Africa. The event was a success, namely as it offered strategic programs specifically dedicated to Youth and Women, in line with the African Charter on Youth and the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women.
At its 34th Ordinary Session held from 6 to 7 of February 2021, the AU Conference of Heads of State and Government congratulated the Government of the Republic of Angola, the AU and UNESCO for the joint organization of the 1st Edition of the Pan-African Forum for the Culture of Peace – Biennale of Luanda and its efforts to promote a culture of peace in Africa. In this regard, it encouraged Angola to organize the 2nd Edition of the Biennale of Luanda and appealed to the African Union Commission (AUC), in close cooperation with UNESCO, and to member states to support and actively participate in this initiative.
The Angolan Government has already created the conditions for its second edition to be another opportunity to celebrate the African Union 2021 Theme of the Year: “Art, Culture and Heritage: Levers to build the Africa we want”, with His Excellency João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço, President of the Republic of Angola, having created a Multisectorial Commission for this purpose, coordinated by Her Excellency Carolina Cerqueira, Minister of State for the Social Area. It has been working with the AUC and UNESCO in creating the conditions for the holding of the 2nd Edition of the Biennale of Luanda, to take place from 4 to 8 of October 2021, for which it is being appealed, from now on, for an active participation of the international community, in particular Korea.
Africa is experiencing a serious economic and social crisis, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is increasing political conflicts, religious, ethnic and cultural intolerance, radicalization and violent extremism and weakening State institutions, thus facilitating actions of instability and terrorism on the continent. This situation justifies the need for a comprehensive and permanent search for pragmatic, sustainable and complementary solutions in favor of peace and stability in Africa.
In this framework, it is essential to adopt increasingly participatory and inclusive forms of governance that contribute to the promotion of a national culture of peace, complemented by full adherence to international principles and standards of human rights, and the fight against corruption and impunity in Africa. Hence the importance of the culture of peace, of this set of values, attitudes and behaviors that reflect respect for life, for the human being and for their dignity, which must be disseminated and practiced by each and every one of the African States.
The preparation of the 2nd Edition of the Biennale of Luanda is duly aligned with this year's theme of the AU, a fact that could certainly create several opportunities for Angola to continue to move forward with a Pan-African Agenda that includes, in particular, an incentive to programs of education for peace, tolerance and diversity that have an effective and far-reaching impact among children and youth in Africa.
As an initiative that brings together, every two years, actors and partners of a pan-African movement engaged in the prevention of violence and conflicts and for the consolidation of peace, the Biennale of Luanda intends to permanently and firmly promote this culture of peace that contribute to the strengthening of national unity and imply an unequivocal rejection, individual and collective, of the divisions and violence that have affected, with serious political, economic and social consequences, many countries in Africa, particularly in the Great Lakes Region, endangering the strategic objective of silencing weapons on the continent. Therefore, the organization of the event counts, therefore, with the participation of the International and Korean Community in this 2nd Edition of the Biennale of Luanda for the promotion of a culture of peace in Africa, a fundamental basis for the full realization of the citizenship of each one on the continent.
Francisco José da Cruz: Angolan Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.