June 7, 2010

High-level Africa conference co-organized by SAIS Bologna

African dignitaries, international officials and representatives from top multilateral and regional organizations gather in Bologna, Italy, to discuss Africa’s future.

There is still no peace for many African people,” remarked Romano Prodi, chair of the U.N.-African Union Peacekeeping Panel, to a hall of African dignitaries, international officials and representatives from top multilateral and regional organizations.

This observation set the tone for Africa: 53 Countries, One Union, the high-level conference that took place May 21 at Palazzo Re Enzo in Bologna, Italy. The Foundation for World Wide Cooperation, together with the SAIS Bologna Center, organized the conference, which was sponsored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, African Union and European Commission.

Its aim was to address the need for continental integration in Africa as a prerequisite for political, social and economic development. Issues debated by panelists ranged from African regional development to conflict prevention to issues of national sovereignty.

Among the distinguished participants were Abdoulaye Wade, president of Senegal; Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa; and Asha Rose Migiro, U.N. deputy secretary-general.

The program materials included a briefing book on political, economic and social issues prepared by this year’s SAIS Bologna Center master’s students. “A large number of extremely capable young graduate students, many of whom with considerable experience in Africa, and all of whom believe passionately in the future of that continent, have contributed to the research,” noted Bologna Center Director Kenneth H. Keller.

With the opportunity to take part in this conference, and in other ways throughout the academic year, policy and research came full circle for SAIS Bologna Center students.

The Foundation for World Wide Cooperation was founded by Prodi, who is also former prime minister of Italy, former president of the European Commission and convener of the conference,

Panelists also included SAIS Bologna Center faculty members Winrich Kühne, the Steven Muller Professor in German Studies, and Michael G. Plummer, ENI Professor of International Economics.

The main deliverable for the conference will be a road map document on African integration as a means for peace and development. This event was the first of a series of three conferences; the others will take place in 2011 in Washington, D.C., and in 2012 in Addis Ababa.

Click for more information and videos of the conference sessions. Read the SAIS Bologna students’ briefing book.