AU to engage media more in fostering peace

ECOSOCC’s Head of Secretariat William Carew, its Presiding Officer Khalid Boudali and Dr Oita Etyang , Head of Governance, Peace and Security at Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretariat during a panel discussion. [James Wanzala, Standard]

African Union will integrate media and civil society organisations in programmes and activities to foster peace and security in the continent.

This was revealed during a one-day colloquium on international peace and security in Nairobi on the sidelines of the 2024 UN Civil Society Conference.

The colloquium, organised by AU’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC) and brought together the Kenyan media, CSOs, academia, think tanks and experts in peace and security.

ECOSOCC’s Head of Secretariat William Carew said the colloquium was showcase the contribution of CSOs under AU’s African Peace Security Architecture (APSA's) to peace and security and engage with media on the same.

“We want to engage with the media to promote accurate reporting and build instructional working relation with them on how we can address issues related to peace and security in the continent. An institutional working relationship will be well structured and coordinated in terms of whatever intervention we want to undertake,” said Carew.

Already, European Union has committed Sh5.7 billion through APSA to support and strengthen the capacity and coordination of its component in adapting to emerging security challenges in Africa. Carew said it is important for them to work with media considering that it acts as an early warning system because they provide information to the affected communities on issues including peace and security.

During the colloquium’s panel discussions, it was noted that most media organisations may not financially support journalists to travel to areas that have insecurity issues to cover stories and therefore require support from both CSOs and AU.

It was also noted that there is need to capacity build journalists covering peace and security just like its being done to those covering climate change, health among other sectors. Carew said the media should expect training opportunities on peace and security unlike the way it has been. He said in the call for membership into ECOSOCC, there is a space for media to be represented into its  General Assembly once accredited as its member.

Carew said the call for membership applications, which is done one after two years, will be done soon. “I ask the media based institutions to be on the lookout to apply for membership at the regional or continental level to be a member of the General Assembly.

The General Assembly is the highest decision-making body of ECOSOCC and comprises 150 CSOs from member states of the African Union and the African diaspora.