Ottawa: Roundtable on Angola’s Peace Process
Since it gained its independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola has been plunged into a devastative civil war principally opposing two former liberation movements, the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The country also served as a battleground for the Cold War rivalries and was thus the theater of massive interventions and military support from both the USSR and the United States. The Lusaka protocol was signed on November 1994, instituting a ceasefire between the parties. A peacekeeping force was deployed by the United Nations to ensure the respect of the ceasefire, but retired in 1999 after being the target of several attacks.
Angola therefore returned to civil war in December 1998. The United Nations estimated that nearly 1.9 million people had become internally displaced, while as many as 200 people were dying every day because of the renewed conflict. The military and political situation became comparable to the pre-Lusaka period. Therefore, a roundtable was held in Ottawa to examine the Angola conflict and the prospects for Canada’s policy toward peacebuilding.
- To develop a deeper understanding of the issues affecting the situation in Angola, such as humanitarian and political situation, civil society and peace movement in Angola, international community role and Canada’s role and policy;
- To examine Canada’s specific policies and actions within the framework of its participation in the U. N. Security Council and the U. N. Committee for the promotion of peace in Angola.
- To highlight the position of Canadian NGOs on these questions;
- To build a « bridge of collaboration » between Canada and Canadian Civil Society for designing future strategies and policies;
- To identify Canadian peacebuilding resources that could support peacebuilding initiatives in Angola.
Discussions were held about the current situation in Angola, peacebuilding prospects and strategic issues. Amongst the participants at the roundtable were some deciders of Canadian’s foreign policy, Canadian NGOs representatives, Angolan civil society representatives and some experts.
The seminar permitted a better coordination of Canadian NGOs by the creation of the Angola Peace Action Network, which mandate was to put pressure upon international community to work on a negotiated settlement of the conflict and support Angolan civil society. It also established common strategies between the Canadian government and NGOs on the question of the promotion of peace in Angola. Furthermore, it was an occasion to examine different possibilities for Canada’s foreign policy toward the Angola conflict.