The East African Community (EAC) has re-launched the Nyerere Centre for Peace Research as part of the Community’s commitment to enhance peace and security, good governance and joint common foreign policy pursuits in order to promote regional integration and development.
The research centre is set to support the EAC in undertaking timely, relevant and empirical research on peace and security issues in the region hence ensuring that policy decisions adopted at EAC level are consistent with other international legal instruments.
The centre that has been revived after a 10-year hiatus is the result of a partnership between EAC and the Arcadia University, USA, and the American Graduate School, Paris, France.
The centre’s research programme is further directed towards determining the causes of conflict, how to address certain conflicts and even the role of gender in conflict prevention and management.
In remarks read on her behalf by Arusha Regional Commissioner, John Mongella, Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign and East African Cooperation, Dr. Stergomena Tax, described the Nyerere Peace Research Centre as a laudable initiative that comes at a time when the Community was expanding amidst an urgent need to put in place viable peace and sustainable conflict-resolutions mechanisms.
Dr. Tax urged the EAC to put in place measures to ensure the future sustainability of the Centre by Partner States through effective engagement of academic and research institutions and other stakeholders in the region.
“Well-coordinated independent research, open dialogue, and actionable ideas on peace and security issues are critical ingredients in informing the decision-making process by policymakers and leaders in the region,” said Dr. Tax.
The Minister said that focused capacity building and nurturing of academic resources in the region would create a pool of thinkers with a deeper understanding of the status of regional peace and security, adding that peace and security were the prerequisites for regional development and integration.
“We must therefore be intentional in building capacities to secure an environment that is stable and peaceful for enhanced human security,” said Dr. Tax.
Dr. Tax described Mwalimu Nyerere as a peacemaker, peace-builder and peace enforcer who attained independence for his country without bloodshed.
“Nyerere believed that peace and freedom must co-exist, that independence for Tanzania was not enough if other countries in Africa were not free and at peace,” she said.
Dr. Tax said that Mwalimu Nyerere was instrumental in the formation of the Organization African Unity (OAU) and its Liberation Committee that had its headquarters in Dar es Salaam, adding that Nyerere provided moral, political and where necessary, training and material support to freedom fighters in the Frontline States.
“This resulted in the liberation of many colonies in Africa through negotiations rather than bloodshed,” said the Minister, adding that for Mwalimu Nyerere, Pan-Africanism was indispensable for a peaceful and stable Africa.
Speaking at the event held at the EAC Secretariat, EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki said that Mwalimu Nyerere stood for peaceful and united Africa and that the Community committed his dream for peace through the revival of the Centre.
“This Centre will be a Resource Centre where scholars and East Africans interested in security and peace research and studies will formulate policies, establish think tanks, share information and become agents that embrace ideals of peaceful coexistence,” he said
Further, Dr. Mathuki added that the centre would work with development partners to create programmes to provide opportunities for the youth in the region including scholarships and fellowships for research on peace and security.
On his part, Prof. Warren Haffar of Arcadia University said that the revival of the Nyerere Centre for Peace Research reaffirms the importance of peace building as the best way to attain peace and sustainable development globally.
Prof. Haffar said that there were serious consequences for humanity whenever dialogue was replaced by war as the preferred solution to disputes among groups and societies.
The don said that the Centre would bring together scholars and students to work together for the attainment of the EAC vision of a peaceful and prosperous region.
Also present at the event were the Judge President of the East African Court of Justice, Justice Nestor Kayobera, the Counsel to the Community, Dr. Anthony Kafumbe, the Chair/CEO of the Nyerere Foundation, Joseph Butiku, Heads of EAC Institutions, members of the diplomatic community, development partners and academics from various universities in East Africa.