From November 28-29, 2019 the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung AU Cooperation Office and African Union Peace and Security Department have organized a workshop to validate a Joint Study into Existing Collaboration between the AU/RECs and CSOs in the Area of Conflict Prevention, Early warning and Early Response, a study commissioned in 2018. The aim of the study was to explore ways of how best to systematize and institutionalize the collaboration between the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in cooperation with civil society organizations (CSOs) in the area of peace and security, particularly focusing on conflict prevention, early warning and early response in Eastern Africa. Particularly, the study intends to review existing structures and collaboration with CSOs both at the AU and RECs levels, mapping of CSOs working in the area of peace and security in the region, identifying gaps, bench mark best experiences of West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEPs) interaction with ECOWAS and proposing practical and systematic ways to institutionalize a coordinated and harmonized engagement with CSOs.
Accordingly, the workshop organized was focused on validating the findings of the study as well in reaching an agreement of next steps. Various CSOs from Eastern Africa countries were represented in the workshop, as well representatives from each of the early warning mechanisms of East Africa (EAC, IGAD, COMESA) and WANEP have participated. The workshop ended with a remarkable result by validating the study and establishing a steering committee responsible for developing further roadmap and implementing of modalities of engagement of Eastern African CSOs with AU and RECs. As a result, the workshop created an enabling environment for CSOs to organize themselves towards a creation of CSOs network in the Eastern Africa dedicated on conflict prevention, early warning and response.