by Virgil Hawkins
From 21-23 September 2012, the SACCPS held its second major conference in Lusaka, Zambia. This time the focus was on peacekeeping and peace enforcement (the topic for 2011 was mediation and peacemaking). Speakers from eleven universities throughout (and beyond) the southern African region presented the results of their research, in sessions covering the broad underlying issues, the involvement of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the sole current peacekeeping operation in the region – that in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and issues beyond the region.
With a view to keeping the research conducted policy relevant, and to help ensure that policymaking is informed by research, the conference was also designed to include the inputs of a number of policymakers and practitioners. Speakers and participants included a former ambassador of Zambia to the UN, representatives from embassies and high commissions at the ambassador level, and members of the Zambian defence force as well as civilians with experience on the ground in peacekeeping missions. A panel for practitioners on the final day of the conference proved to be particularly enlightening.
In terms of conference output, some of the papers presented at the conference will be published in the SACCPS-run journal – Southern African Peace and Security Studies. Other concepts and ideas explored will find expression in the form of blog articles here. But the SACCPS is also working to make its work available through a variety of multimedia outlets. At the conference, for example, the organisers took the opportunity to interview (on video) participants, asking them what they thought were critical issues affecting the peace and security of southern Africa. These short interviews are currently being edited and made available online through YouTube.
The SACCPS homepage continues to be updated with new information released by the network, but it should also be noted that the SACCPS Facebook page contains links to all the interviews, and also contains a large number of photos from the conference. To keep up with SACCPS events and outputs in realtime, this is a good page to 'Like' (to use the Facebook lingo).
The network is what 'we' (those with an interest in issues of peace and security in the region) make of it, and it is never too late to get involved. This blog remains open for new writers – in English, French and Portuguese (just send an email), and the journal is also open for more involved and in-depth studies and articles. We look forward to expanding the breadth and depth of the network.