Spotlight: Featuring Africa at the Munich Security Conference


As insecurity grows in the Sahel and Horn of Africa, the continent remains a focal point on the global human security agenda. The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) ensures that African perspectives make their way into key policy discussions outside of the continent.

When world leaders gathered for the 2020 Munich Security Conference (MSC) in February, ‘westlessness’ was no doubt on the minds of many participants. The term was coined by the MSC for the largely western audience that descends annually on the Bavarian city of Munich – far-removed from African daily realities.

ISS experts participating in the world’s premier meeting on security ensured that Africa remained central to discussions. This year the conference was attended by hundreds of high-ranking international decision makers, including over 30 heads of state and nearly 100 cabinet ministers.

Through its role in several discussions and roundtables on human security, healthy security and biological threats, transnational threats and sustainable solutions to global and continental challenges, ISS used this unique opportunity to call for greater attention to the continent.

‘These engagements enabled the ISS to bring an evidenced-based African perspective to key global debates on peace and security,’ said Anton du Plessis, ISS Executive Director and leader of the ISS delegation to Munich.

The MSC was attended by over 30 heads of state and nearly 100 cabinet ministers

Together with its longstanding development partner, the Hanns Seidel Foundation, ISS hosted a high-level side event on the long-term development prospects for Sahel countries. Drawing on recent research, Jakkie Cilliers, head of African Futures & Innovation at the ISS, mapped potential paths for the region over the next 20 years.

Chaired by ISS’ Regional Director for West Africa, the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, panelists included the United Nations’ (UN) Special Representative for the Secretary General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa, Ambassador Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Secretary General of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, Ibrahim Sani Abani and the African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smaïl Chergui.

‘With African issues often relegated to the periphery, keeping these on the global agenda and ensuring African voices are heard is central to our work,’ says Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, Head of Special Projects at ISS and a Munich Young Leader.

ISS experts also moderated a high-level discussion on security in North-East Africa between Amb Chergui from the AU, and ministers of foreign affairs from Sudan and Egypt, with critical input from the World Bank and the European Institute of Peace.

The launch of the Organised Crime Index for Africa was also chaired by the ISS. The index is an original tool designed by the ENACT transnational organised crime project run by the ISS and Interpol in partnership with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime. The project is funded by the European Union.

While in Munich, the ISS met with key partners, including senior officials from the UN and the Community of Sahel–Saharan States, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the Secretary General of Interpol, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GIZ.

For more information contact:

Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, ISS: [email protected]

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