International Alert held a two-day workshop aimed at developing a communications strategy for the Liberia and South Sudan African Union Liaison Offices (AULOs) in Addis Ababa on 5–6 December 2013.
The workshop ended with participants agreeing that Liaison Offices should become ‘the face and voice’ of the African Union.
Opening the workshop, the Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia Jan Sadek said: “Sweden supports Africans’ demands 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.”
For his part, Lulsegged Abebe, International Alert’s Senior Advisor on the African Union, said: “AULOs ought to be the face and voice of the AU. We believe that this process and developing communications strategies for the AULOs, once finalised and aligned with the overall AUC communications strategy, will empower Liaison Offices to systematically raise awareness amongst stakeholders about the AU and its work.”
According to Esther Azza Tankou, Senior Editorial Officer at the AUC who represented the Directorate of Information and Communication, “one of the main challenges so far has been that the AU and its work are not well known on the ground. Liaison Offices could become the best channels through which the Commission can reach citizens,” she said.
In the same vein, Takwa Zebulon Suifon, an expert on post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding, who represented the AUC Peace and Security Department at the workshop, welcomed the idea of strengthening the Liaison Offices’ visibility and communication strategies.
Launched last year, Alert’s work with the AULOs aims at strengthening their effectiveness in the delivery of their objectives and specific mandates, in three pilot AU member countries (Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan) leading to sustainable peace and improved human security.
The aim is also to ensure that Liaison Offices become an essential partner for host governments, international, and national actors, for the promotion of peace and security in the countries where they operate. The project is funded by the Swedish Government, and implemented by International Alert in collaboration with the Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission.
One of the main objectives for next year is to use the AULOs in the campaign to promote the ratification, domestication, and implementation of the African Charter on Elections, Democracy and Governance.