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African Agency in Development, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution

14 April 2021

We were delighted to welcome Professor Funmi Olonisakin, Dr Moses Tofa and Dr David Mwambari from the African Leadership Centre, Kings’ College, London, on 14 April 2021.

The session spoke to how African states individually and Africa’s collective institutions (the AU) are providing agency in Africa’s international relations, in order to move beyond dominant narratives of a self-indulgent attitude about Africa’s historical victimhood.

While African states have been trailblazers in such ideas as ‘The Responsibility to Protect’, as conceived in the African Union Constitutive Act (2001) which preceded the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s report “In Larger Freedom” (2005) in which the UN adopted the concept, African agency in international relations has not always been captured proactively. This session spoke to Africa (and African states) in a state of proactivity as opposed to a reactionary mode of international relations which has long been the case due to the discipline’s heavy concentration on the West.

This event was Chaired by Dr Lorena Lombardozzi, Lecturer in Economics at The Open University and is available to watch again below.

Speaker bios

Professor Funmi Olonisakin

Vice-President and Vice-Principal International and Professor of Security, Leadership and Development at Kings' College London.

She is a founding member of the African Leadership Centre, which aims to build the next generation of African scholars generating cutting edge knowledge for security and development in Africa; and was Director of the Conflict, Security and Development Group (CSDG) at King’s (2003 to 2013). Prior to this, she worked in the Office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.

In 2015, she was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, as one of seven members of the Advisory Group of Experts (AGE) on the Review of the United Nations Peacebuilding Architecture. She was also appointed in 2016 as a member of the Advisory Group of Experts for the United Nations Progress Study on 'Youth, peace and security'. She serves on the board of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue and Chairs the Africa Regional Advisory Committee of the Open Society Foundation.

The University of Pretoria appointed 'Funmi as an Extra-Ordinary Professor in the Department of Political Sciences in 2016. In 2018, the Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) invited her to join the Council of the United Nations University.

Dr. David Mwambari

Lecturer in African Security and Leadership Studies

Dr David Mwambari is a Lecturer in African Security and Leadership Studies at the African Leadership Centre. He is also a by-fellow at Churchill College Cambridge University for the academic year 2019-2020.

He was previously a Research Foundation, Flanders (FWO) postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Conflict and Development Studies at Ghent University, Belgium (2017-2019). He was an assistant professor of international relations at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, United States International University, Africa in Nairobi, Kenya (2015-2017).

In addition to academic research, David has worked as a consultant for multinational companies, such as the Royal Dutch Philips and international organisations, such as the Mastercard Foundation. He is a co-founder and board member of the local non-governmental organisation, Sanejo, which focuses on transformation education in post-conflict African societies in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.

Since 2019, he has been a member of the advisory board of the European Research Council (ERC)’s project on 'Globalised memorial museum: Exhibiting atrocities in the era of claims for moral universals', based at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Moses Tofa

ALC Post-Doctoral and Visiting Research Fellow.

Dr Moses Tofa leads the ALC’s research agenda on Peace, Society and the State in Africa from the Nairobi office. He is also anchoring the ALC/University of Nairobi’s Institute for Development Studies post-graduate module on Peace, Security and Development.

Moses holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Johannesburg, a PhD in Peace Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, MA International Peace and Security from King’s College London, and MSc in International Relations from the University of Zimbabwe. He has worked as a Senior Researcher with the Centre for Conflict Resolution and the Mass Public Opinion Institute, Programme Officer with the Open Society Foundation for South Africa and Lecturer with the University of Zimbabwe and the Women’s University in Africa.

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