In 1987 there was a historic meeting in Dakar, Senegal between the exiled leaders of the African National Congress (ANC) and a group of influential South Africans. This meeting is credited with paving the way for the end of apartheid in South Africa. Based on the ideas of the chairman of the meeting, President Abdou Diouf of Senegal, The Gorée Institute was founded in 1992 as a Center for Democracy, Development, and Culture in Africa. Its founders were Africans committed to democracy in the continent. It is a pan-African organization but the headquarters are in Senegal. It is located on the island of Gorée, known as a departure point for slaves in the Atlantic Slave Trade.
The three major areas that the Institute works on include:
- “Democratization, election, and political process.” There are challenges in promoting democracy in West Africa, such as constitutional changes. The Institute works on “strengthening the knowledge and capacity to manage the electoral process.” The Institute focuses on networking with civil society organizations in the region as well as regional, subregional and international organizations. Through this initiative, the Gorée Institute seeks to address some of the challenges facing African states – this includes electoral fraud, human rights violations, corruption, a lack of citizen oversight of government actions, and a low level of awareness of democratic principles.
- “Conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and human security.” There has been improvement in the field of conflict management and prevention in the past five years, but there are still challenges because most of the fifteen countries in ECOWAS are unstable. The Gorée Institute believes that threats to security are not only military, but include poverty, environmental damage, and oppression and disenfranchisement as well. Its objectives are to “promote best practices of non-violent conflict management peacebuilding” as well as “contribute to the development of civic practices that combine traditional values with modern techniques of conflict resolution.”
- “Peace by Force: Support for artistic and literary creativity.” The Institute believes that democratization and cultural development are linked. It strives to strengthen the capacity of civil society so that people can participate in any kind of activity, such as economic and political, but also cultural.
On July 7, 2014 the Institute held a workshop on “institutional stability and human security” in Cote d’Ivoire. “The objective of this workshop is to train members of the Ivorian civil society, authorities, local elected representatives on the stability of Institutions and human security for a proactive approach in the management of conflicts.” Twenty different Ivorian civil society organizations attended.
You can learn more about the Institute’s work on its website.
Image courtesy of the Gorée Institute.