Sustainable Peace and Development through Arts, Culture and Heritage
The celebration of 2021 as the AU Year of the Arts, Culture and Heritage provides a valuable opportunity to examine means of strengthening the contribution of arts and culture to sustaining peace and development in Africa. It is premised on the belief that a peaceful and secure Africa can only be attained by nurturing a “Culture of Peace” in the minds of its societies. In this regard, existing global frameworks and AU policy instruments, especially Agenda 2063 and the Charter for African Cultural Renaissance (2006), underscore the importance of culture, arts and heritage in peacebuilding, reconciliation, conflict-prevention processes and preventing radicalization and extremism. When strategically harnessed with the goal of (re)building a peaceful society, these frameworks have the potential to become integral tools for sustaining peace.
In addition to preventing conflict and sustaining peace, promoting a culture of peace also plays a pivotal role across the peace continuum. In situations where violence has already erupted, the Charter (2006) underlines the importance of protecting and preserving cultural heritage. This has acquired growing significance in recent years as non-state actors, notably terrorist groups, have been involved in the destruction of cultural heritage in conflict settings, further exacerbating conflict and hindering post-conflict reconciliation efforts. UN Security Council has also reflected this in its decision to include safeguarding cultural heritage as part of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) mandate. This is the first and only peacekeeping mission to be tasked with such a directive. Against this backdrop, the session will seek to discuss concrete measures that African states can adopt in order to strengthen the contribution of arts, culture and heritage to sustainable peace and development in the context of rebuilding better and recovering stronger.