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Peace and Security

Briefing in Paris on Human Security and Africa

A briefing on human security in Africa was held in Paris on September 5, 2008, sponsored jointly by the African Dream and Woman’s Dignity, two working committees of UPF-France.

The topic was addressed both theoretically and through two case studies: one focusing on prostitution in Africa, the other focusing on youth awareness about environmental issues.

“Insecurity has three synonyms," said Mr. Laurent Ladouce in an overview on human security. "The first is a danger threatening one’s existence, the other is uncertainty about one’s identity, and the third is precariousness, limitations to what one can have or do. Most African countries exemplfy the three forms of insecurity. The UPF agrees with the general agenda of human security, i.e., freedom from want and freedom from fear. However, we raise the question, freedom for what? and focus on human responsibility. We enjoy protection and a more secure existence when we gain responsible ownership over our life and over the natural world. The UPF character initiative makes people aware of the power within, namely character and moral values. Moreover, our five core principles of unity, spirituality, family, altruism, and fraternity, if properly understood and practiced, will make Africa and the world safer.”

Mrs. Brigitte Wada, president of the Women’s Federation for World Peace in France, stated, “Freedom from fear is connected to human rights, while freedom from want entails human development. Don’t you think that we shall arrive at both if we first assert our human dignity?” She then quoted Mrs. Ferrero-Wadner, European commissioner for external relations, who had addressed the role of women in the stabilization of an uncertain world in Brussels: ‘’The focus should not just be on women as victims, but on their contribution as women to stabilize difficult situations worldwide. Women rebuild societies broken by conflicts and disasters and lay the foundation of local stability without which there cannot be any world security.” Mrs. Wada sketched the qualities of female leadership which will help us build a safer world: motherly love, compassion, team spirit and cooperation, endurance, and creativity. “Needless to say," she concluded, "women should work with men, not without or against them.”

Mrs. Amély James Koh-Bela, a Cameroonian woman and leader of the NGO Mayina, has investigated prostitution networks with African children and women for four years, sometimes at the risk of her life. “The ethno-cultural dimension is very important," she stressed. "Western NGOs have their own views on prostitution and sexual crimes, but are often unable to understand the cultural background surrounding children and women in Africa. I had to learn so many languages in order to penetrate remote areas and talk to mothers, without judging. Sometimes, they were proud of making money with their daughters. They had no idea of the mental and physical implications of such a hellish existence.” Her association has collected dozens of testimonies or investigations with titles such as “Prostitution: The new African slave trade,” “My brother, my pimp,” and “The person whom I saw as my mother sold my virginity.”

Mrs. Marie Tamoifo Nkom gave the keynote speech of the evening, with the help of a PowerPoint presentation. The president of “Green Youth,” she had just arrived from her country of Cameroon, where she received an “African lady” award a few years ago. Her profile is new and quite unusual in Africa. “I am only 34, and have been working in various associations for the past 10 years, in cooperation with UN agencies, various international youth organizations, and local NGOs. I traveled a lot, met so many young people from so many different cultures, and represented the African youth. I am receiving training," she said with great humility, while pictures showed her greeting many heads of state and skillfully guiding impressive projects. "We address youth problems and environmental issues. Much time is used for discussion, because there is a need for young people to be together, talk freely, and arrive at common thoughts. When I received the African Lady award and the Mohamed VI prize in Morocco, it was not at all for me, but for all these young people who want to make a difference. I am just a facilitator.”

She received a new award as an Ambassador for Peace and was warmly congratulated by two Ambassadors for Peace who were moved by her talent, grace, and love. Seven people immediately applied to become Ambassadors for Peace too.

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