National Cohesion in Insecure States: Experiences from Africa

residency poster with photo of child holding a cardboard cutout of AfricaMichel Noureddine Kassa, Country Team Leader for the Initiative for a Cohesive Leadership (ILC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Distinguished Visiting Practitioner Residency

October 15-19, 2012

Mistrust, rivalries, and manipulation of the legacies of the past are among the hurdles societies face after conflict on the way to national cohesion and peace. How can we pursue sustainable and ecologically responsible development in a globalized and exposed puzzle of nations, networks and interests?

Michel Noureddine Kassa is in charge of devising and implementing a strategy aimed at bringing together key actors of DRC's political, security, economic and social sectors through interactive, process centred sessions. The Initiative for a Cohesive Leadership partners with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholar’s leadership and Africa programs. Prior to leading the ILC, Kassa spent eight and a half years (1995-2003) in charge of the UNDP humanitarian office, later transformed into an OCHA office, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In several occasions, he used humanitarian advocacy as a tool to cross frontlines and promote national cohesion. In 2001, for recognition of his actions in DRC in 1995-2001, he represented the United Nations with Mr. Koffi Annan and seven other UN representatives during the Nobel Prize ceremony.

Schedule of Events:

Monday, October 15

Women and Insecurity in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A discussion of women's inequality in the Eastern Congo. Sponsored by the Heller Gender Working Group and the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance.

Tuesday, October 16

New Generations Waging Peace: New generations of post-independence elites play a crucial role in peacemaking in Africa and the Middle East.

A Look at Development in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Sustainable development faces tremendous challenges in polarized societies, where urban elites are pitted against those working to improve the Human Development Index (HDI) across the society.

Theories of Development and Underdevelopment: Sustainable development and the challenge of polarized societies.

Wednesday, October 17

Film Screening: Katanga Business: A political and economic thriller about globalization in one of the world's richest regions in mining resources -- but precious little of the profit trickles down to the ordinary folk who live and work there. 

New Models and Old Constraints for Responsible Partnerships: A panel addressing the challenges of responsible business, especially for foreign companies working in Africa's mining industry. Michel Noureddine Kassa joins Prof. Joseph Assan (MA SID), Aaron Chassy (Catholic Relief Services), Germain Indjassa (MA Coex), Prof. Catherine Mann (IBS), and Josep Maria (ESADE University, Spain). 

Thursday, October 18

Ethics and Negotiation: Being a peace professional in volatile contexts requires ethical guidelines for ongoing negotiation.

Career Path of a Peacebuilder: Heading for a career in coexistence or peacebuilding? Are you an activist committed to making a difference? Kassa shares stories about the choices he made, the people who influenced him, and his day-to-day life as a peacebuilder. Cosponsored by the the Hiatt Career Center and the Heller Career Development Center.

Keynote Address: "National Cohesion in Insecure States: Experiences from Africa"
Mistrust, rivalries, and manipulation of past legacies...How can we pursue sustainable and ecologically responsible development in a globalized and exposed puzzle of nations, networks, and interests? 

Friday, October 19

Conflict Analysis and Intervention: Negotiation and mediation have the power to avoid court interventions and decisions; they might also avoid the resort to force and violence in the international arena or in regional conflicts. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, there are many examples of what negotiation and mediation accomplished: opening the Congo River back to navigation, letting national exams cross enemy lines, reducing the risks of revenge after elections, and permitting changes in top positions.

The French Influence in Africa: Keeping the Good, Amending the Bad: How can Africa preserve the best of the French spirit, while cleaning up the refuse of paternalism and dubious postcolonial brotherhoods? Discussion in French.

Kassa's residency was sponsored by the Ethics Center and hosted by Alain Lempereur, Director of the Master's Program in Coexistence and Conflict, Heller School.