14 October 2006, conference report (1.4 MB)
African Students' Conference 2006
The ASC has been organized annually since 1999 for African students at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague. The conferences deal with critical issues of major concern to Africa in the field of advancing peace, justice and democracy. The conferences are a leading event for raising awareness and promoting interdisciplinary and inter-cultural dialogue, research and action. The conferences stress the role of culture, youth and civil societies, and encourage students to not only bridge the gap between their studies and the need to build peace in Africa but also to link up with the Diaspora youth in the Netherlands.
The Impact of Religion
The theme of 2006 conference was "Building Peace in Africa: The Impact of Religion".
Over the course of the 20th century, many social science paradigms, such as secularization
and modernization theory, predicted not only the end of religion as being a possible source
of conflict, but also the end of religion or spirituality as an important source for educated
people to turn to for inspiration, guidance and consolation. On the one hand many wars have
involved religious aspects, and their numbers are on the increase. Meanwhile, it is also true,
especially in countries in the global South, that many peacebuilders and leaders of social
change draw their inspiration from religious or spiritual sources.
More and more criticisms are being voiced about the Western values such as secularism, modernism, globalization, market economy, development, democracy to other parts of the world because these values cannot so easily be exported and could even constitute causes for tensions or serious conflict.
After 9/11, the relationship between religion and politics; religion and development, and peacebuilding has become a serious and challenging subject for social scientists, politicians and fieldworkers.
All too often, religion has been seen as part of the problem and its potential as part of the solution has been ignored. However, because the concept of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation is central to their world view, spiritually inspired people and faith-based organizations make important contributions to peacebuilding.
The conference focused especially on the positive role of religion, as an important source of inspiration for peacebuilding, social transformation, and reconciliation, and the need to be more sensitive about its impact.
Sahro M. Ahmed, was a Board Member of UNOY Peacebuilders
and comes from Somalia. She has a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology / Development
Sociology obtained from Leiden University. Sahro is involved in national and international
youth work focusing on gender, health and healing.
Prof. Kevin Clements, Australian Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, professor Clements has been a Visiting Professor / Researcher at several Universities worldwide. He has been an advisor on defense, security and conflict issues to a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations in Australasia, the United States and Europe. Also, he has been Chairman, Facilitator and keynote speaker at many international Peace and Conflict Resolution Conferences over the past 20 years.
Prof. Gerrie ter Haar, Professor of Religion, Human Rights and Social Change, professor ter Haar was trained as a scholar of religion at the University of Amsterdam, where she received her MA degree. She obtained her PhD at Utrecht University in 1991. Since May 1999, she has held a Chair at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. She is Vice-General of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR) and a founding member of the African Association for the Study of Religions (AASR). She has published extensively in her field and is a member of several editorial and advisory boards.
Victor Igreja, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Leiden. For several years, Victor Igreja has been working with a Mozambican NGO Esperança para Todos (AEPATO) on the field of war traumas and individual and community recovery strategies in the former war-zones of Mozambique central. His interest is focused on the long-term effects of trauma exposure and the role of the agricultural cycle, traditional medicine, and customary law to boost the recovery process after war.
Prof. Sakah Saidu Mahmud, is Associate Professor of Political Science at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky where he teaches comparative politics of the developing world. As a native of Nigeria, Prof. Mahmud received his Ph.D. (1992) from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Mahmud has conducted fieldwork in Nigeria, Senegal and the Republic of South Africa on human rights, democratization and development. His current research focuses on a comparative study examining how and why Islamic activism has produced civic peace in Senegal in contrast to Nigeria where activism often leads to confrontations and conflict.
Rosemary Glenda Wanjala, ISS, is currently enrolled in a masters program in Human Resources and Employment at the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. She is a member and the training manager of the Kenya Youth Foundation. She has worked with young boys and girls in the slums of Nairobi and in prison. She has extensive experience in community organizing, mobilization and advocacy with different NGOs in Nairobi that are concerned with democracy.
In the afternoon, there was a Youth Panel, discussing issues addressed by the speakers, with:
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