Accompanying African Union Liaison Offices ‘face and voice’ of the AU

A two-day workshop, aimed at developing a communication strategy for the Liberia and South Sudan African Union Liaison Offices (AULOs), has ended with participants agreeing that liaison offices should become the face and voice of the AU. The workshop took place in Ethiopias's capital Addis Ababa on 5–6 December 2013.

The workshop is part of a three-year project aimed at strengthening the capacities of liaison offices in Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan to effectively deliver on their objectives and mandates, leading to sustainable peace and improved human security. It is funded by the Government of Sweden, and implemented by International Alert, in collaboration with the Peace and Security Department of the Africa Union Commission (AUC).

In his welcome address, Dr Lulsegged Abebe, International Alert’s Senior Advisor to the AU, thanked the Swedish Government and the African Union Commission for their support and collaboration in implementing the project. He noted that “AULOs are the face and voice of the AU on the ground”, and said that developing a communication strategy that is aligned with the overall AUC communication strategy will empower liaison offices to systematically raise awareness amongst stakeholders about the AU and its work.”

For his part, Jan Sadek, Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU, commended International Alert for organising the workshop and said: “Sweden supports Africans’ demand for accountable institutions. We believe that strengthened and capacitated AULOs will help support the AUC in promoting peace and security in member states, and ultimately support the advancement of peace and good governance.”

The same sentiments were echoed by Takwa Zebulon Suifon, an expert on post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding, who represented the AUC Peace and Security Director at the workshop. Mr Takwa said that “AULOs are providing a window for the AU to show relevance on the ground. We therefore need to empower and enable liaison offices to conduct their work.”

Dr Khabele Matlosa, Director for the AUC Department for Political Affairs, said that AULOs should continue to engage with stakeholders in member states, to promote and implement the principles of the African Shared Values, which was declared during the 16th Ordinary Session of AU in Addis Ababa.

Esther Azza Tankou, Senior Editorial Officer at the AUC who was representing the Communication and Information Director, also acknowledged the need for to develop an AU Communication Strategy which is currently ongoing, while agreeing that “one of the main challenges so far has been that the AU and its contribution is not well known on the ground. Liaison offices could become the best channels through which the Commission can reach citizens.”

The workshop which took with active participation from the liaison office in Liberia, the African Union Commission and partners supporting the project. One of its objectives was to increase the engagement of the AULOs with stakeholders such as civil society organisations and the public.

EDITOR’S NOTES

To find out more about the workshop and the AULO project, please contact:

Lulsegged Abebe, PhD

Senior Advisor – AU

International Alert

Addis Ababa: +251 910 839 277

London: +44 20 7627 6834

labebe@international-alert.org