West Africa Peace and Security Network

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1 West Africa Peace and Security Network (WAPSN) Concept Note 1

2 Current WAPSN NETWORK partners N.B.: we are actively building partnerships with universities in Senegal and Nigeria. It is hoped that this unique initiative will attract more interested parties as activities are implemented. 2

3 Overview Despite significant advances in human and economic development over recent decades, the West African region continues to face a number of considerable security challenges. From the twinned-problems of insurgency and terrorism in the Sahel to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, insecurity threatens to derail the on-going progress that countries in the region have achieved. Key to addressing these challenges is an increased understanding of both the root causes of insecurity in the West Africa and how policy-makers working on the region might seek to alleviate them. The West Africa Peace and Security Network (WAPSN) is a trans-continental initiative to promote debate, foster dialogue, and support the co-production of research on security issues in West Africa. The Network brings together specialist scholars and practitioners from around the world and, through its activities, seeks to produce state-of-theart research that can support effective policy in the region. The WAPSN aims, in particular, to create the space, time and opportunities for the free exchanges of ideas, scientific cooperation and practical interaction between policy and academic worlds. Its core objectives include fostering practitioner-informed research and research-informed policy. It provides a framework that supports its members both to develop inclusive research teams or clusters organized around specific research problems, and to participate in the Network s broader activities including regular symposia held in West Africa in order to share and discuss their findings with the wider academic, practitioner, and policy-focused communities. Core network objectives: The prevention of conflicts requires their deeper understanding. Therefore, a better communication and cooperation between practitioners from regional and international institutions, civil servants from national governments and researchers is needed to strengthen this understanding and use it in an effective way. The Political Director of the UN-Office at the African Union, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, taking part in discussion with academics from the West Africa Peace and Security Network. 1. To facilitate the co-production of state-of-the-art research that underpins policy and fosters peace and security in West Africa 2. To facilitate interactions and international collaborations between scholars and practitioners engaged on West African peace and security issues with a view to supporting peace and security in the region. 3

4 Network activities In order to meet these objectives, the WAPSN supports a range of activities: 1. Production of state of the art research The Network will produce empirical and theoretical works that will generate new knowledge on the causes of conflict and the dimensions of conflict management (prevention, management, peacekeeping, peace building, etc.) in West Africa. Significant contribution to understanding of the dynamics of insecurity in West Africa (and respective conflict management systems) Publication of scientific books, articles, and book chapters Creation of a new scientific community specifically focused on West African peace and security issues Dissemination of expert knowledge and advice via: direct consultations with practitioners, specialist workshops, participation in various international conferences and the Network s website and social media presence. In April 2015, the WAPSN organized a symposium on the Regional Dynamics of Peace and Security in West Africa at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre in Accra. The event brought together researchers and practitioners from Africa, Europe and North America to discuss current challenges to peace and security in West Africa. Among others, the Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, the Political Director of the ECOWAS Commission and UN representatives were in attendance. Debate focused on the crisis in Mali, the MINUSMA operation, maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, the role of France in West Africa and on the coordination of different organizations in conflict resolution. 2. Knowledge dissemination: Symposia, workshops and roundtables Every year, subject to funding, the Network will organize a symposium that will provide an opportunity for research clusters to present and discuss aspects of their research to a wider public of academics, professionals and practitioners. The symposium will also provide an opportunity to identify and discuss new and emerging research agendas and means of addressing them. Respectively, workshops and roundtables will be organised by research clusters on a regular basis and will ensure the state-of-the-art quality of the research outputs and exchanges. 4

5 Knowledge exchange between practitioners and academics Increased dialogue between academics and practitioners Policy recommendations relating to the existing research agendas Identification of new research agendas 3. Broader Knowledge dissemination The Network will develop a public presence through its website and by offering its expertise to news media outlets. Awareness raising and media exposure Dissemination of knowledge to the wider public Enhanced public debate 4. Training, exchanges, knowledge and capacity building Every year, subject to funding, the WAPS Network will organize academic security and strategy training and academic exchanges for West African Public officials, academic employees of and post-graduate students who wish to pursue a period of training abroad in peace and security studies at one of the partner institutions. Contribution to the training of public officials, academics and graduate students North-South collaboration and exchanges Career experiences and opportunities for graduate students 5

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