Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad - Togo
Chief Negotiator of ACP Group for Post-Cotonou 2020 agreement - Professor of Political Philosophy

Prof. Robert Dussey

Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Togolese Abroad - Togo
Chief Negotiator of ACP Group for Post-Cotonou 2020 agreement - Professor of Political Philosophy

OPENING – LOME INTERNATIONAL COLLOQUIUM ON MANAGING POLITICAL TRANSITIONS AND BUILDING RESILIENCE AGAINST EXTREMISM – CASE OF WEST AFRICA

OPENING SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY PROF. ROBERT DUSSEY, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, REGIONAL INTEGRATION AND TOGOLESE ABROAD

Lome, March 05, 2022

Mr. President of the University of Lomé and Minister of Primary, Secondary, Technical and Handicraft Education,

Mr Director General of ENA,

Mr. UNDP Resident Representative,

Ladies and gentlemen experts, in your respective ranks and titles,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

In times of crisis, there is the urgency of thinking and this meeting of reflection, exchange of lights of reason, perspectives and experiences responds to this urgent need for lucidity in our region of West Africa which in this sequence of historical time crosses a zone of turbulence.

I would like, at the beginning of my remarks, not only to wish everyone a warm and fraternal welcome to Lomé, but also to express my gratitude in the sense of gratitude to all the experts and academics here present who have agreed to take part in the work of the colloquium. despite the constraints and their certainly busy schedules.

Under the leadership of the President of the Republic, HE Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE, Togo is honored to welcome you to this event of both scientific and practical scope.

I would like to thank all the people and institutions of good will whose support has never failed us, from the conception of the project at the beginning to the holding of the colloquium this weekend.

I would particularly like to thank the National Representation of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) which agreed, without any form of hesitation and with a proactive eagerness, to accompany the holding of this mass of food for the spirit, in in other words, from this meeting of collective argumentation from which will undoubtedly emerge a better understanding of the complex dialectic of governance and political stability in West Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Distinguished Guests,

The security situation in West Africa is more worrying than ever and the process of positive pacification of the region is today strongly thwarted by the action of armed terrorist groups. The stability of West Africa is being put to the test by a process of dynamiting normative achievements, political and democratic processes and above all security.

This pathological development, which clearly reflects a deep malaise, puts the West African region in pain, in a situation that is proving increasingly complex and worrying for our States and the whole of international society. Under our dumbfounded gaze, violent extremism, terrorism and intra- and trans-regional crime continue, at a frantic pace, to spread and spread in the region, dangerously removing vast geographical areas from the control of States.

The States themselves and the institutions representing their presence on national territories are prime targets for armed terrorist groups whose actions in the region fuel political instability. Extremist armed groups generate a process of vulnerability of states and already fragile political processes.

Their actions not only increase the degree of fragility of states, but also erode their legitimacy and in some contexts cause the crisis of the state as an institution of collective regulation. There are clashes shaking the apparatuses of governance in the countries of the Sahelian sub-region and West Africa.

Alongside issues of intolerance and the social fragmentation it engenders against a background of religious and ethnic antagonisms, the prevailing insecurity in the region accentuates the delay in terms of development. This obviously creates despair and a crisis of confidence between the sovereign mandates and their agents.

It is in this regional environment characterized by the delegitimization of State action due to violent extremism and the collapse of political processes that changes in political regimes have taken place, including efforts for normalization and the return constitutional order and regular democratic institutions have given rise to ongoing political transitions in the region.

The great challenge for States in political transition and for the entire West African region today is how to preserve the remaining gains and strengthen resilience at the level of the States as well as that of the communities that a logic of murderous destruction tends to pit against each other.

The risk of stuttering and perversion being inherent in any transition process, States in political transition and the West African region must redouble their vigilance and intensify their efforts to consolidate national solidarity. Political transitions must be a real opportunity for re-cementing social relations, consolidating the national pact and reconciliation. They must not be an opportunity that extremist armed groups can take advantage of to amplify their capacity for harm and further destabilize the region.

This is why the management of political transitions, as we have been experiencing for several months in our region, in an atmosphere of ambient insecurity, requires a dose of realism and practical wisdom.

Practical wisdom , writes Paul RICŒUR in his book Oneself as Another , consists in inventing the right behaviors appropriate to the singularity of the cases” , in “inventing the behaviors which best satisfy the exception that solicitude in betraying the rule as little as possible . Practical wisdom dictates that we stick to principles without losing sight of the rebellious nature of reality.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Political transitions are periods of intense action through which States and societies draw new perspectives through the most appropriate solutions, proactive, realistic and endogenous strategies as well as a total overhaul of governance in all sectors. .

Priority to action does not, however, imply the negation of reflection, which is of manifest utility because it generates light. Thought is the path to action because we must first know the right method to adopt to achieve better results, as our current strategies are obsolete and without effect.

Pericles, a great strategist from Athens and man in the field, does not ignore the importance of constructive reflection when he warns ” that it is rather dangerous to take action before the discussion has enlightened us on what ‘there is something to do ‘. ” Practice is blind without theory “, said Emmanuel KANT .

Political transitions and the challenges of socio-political consolidation deserve to be captured in thought. Hence the importance of this symposium which brings us together today. This colloquium is, in the Habermasian sense, an opportunity for communicational action deeply rooted in its context, the place for an intelligent articulation of “Theory” and Practice , a meeting place for the exercise of active thought, structuring and forward-looking.

In truth, what is at stake within the framework of this colloquium is the dialectic of theory and practice where theory is one with practice in a relationship of co-determination and reciprocal presuppositions. We are here in a framework of elucidation, understanding and conceptualization of the practice, which ceases to be a simple occasion of trial and error without end, to become the place of a coherent maneuver, intelligently oriented, socially and collectively turned towards a desired end, in other words towards the strengthening of resilience in the face of violent extremism in a region at the crossroads in search of benchmarks where the challenges are clearly pressing.

This agora, a public sphere of communicational interaction, I am convinced, will provide innovative solutions to the multiple and current challenges linked to the context of ever-increasing insecurity in the region.

By initiating the international symposium, Togo aims not only to challenge the scientific world on its role and its place in the construction of peaceful and stable societies, but also to collect concrete and innovative proposals likely to feed reflections in the framework of the April 2022 High-Level Conference. Times of crisis paradoxically have the advantage of being an opportunity for innovation.

Experts,

During the work of this symposium, we will be led to explore the strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches adopted and implemented so far by countries and international organizations in order to be able to respond to multifaceted security challenges. The debates should also lead to proposals that can reconcile security requirements, which are ever more pressing and vital, with the management of political instability, which is also a source of tension and complication.

In accordance with these various objectives, the work of the symposium will take place along three priority axes of discussion such as the security paradigm and the political stakes, the contemporary challenges of peace and security in the Sahel and the management and support of political transitions in courses in West Africa.

On each of these points, I would like to invite us to innovation, to free and scientific thought as well as to pragmatism. Our duty is also to rethink regional and international multilateralism around the security issue in West Africa by analyzing the mistakes of the past in order to make better progress.

It is therefore urgent to reflect constructively for more concerted, more effective and life-saving actions. We must dare to think outside the box, step out of the ranks, if necessary. Our region is in a critical phase of its history and it is certainly necessary to act, but to act more effectively.

The Head of State, HE Faure Essozimna GNASSINGBE attaches importance to this international colloquium to which, I would like, on his behalf, to assure you of the full availability and commitment of the Togolese Republic to support your recommendations and to adhere to all innovative and united initiatives that will put the region back on the path to lasting stability and peace.

On this, while renewing my words of welcome and thanks to the UNDP, in particular to its Resident Representative, I declare open the work of the international symposium in Lomé on “The management of political transitions and the building resilience against violent extremism – the case of West Africa” .

Full success to our work and good stay to all in Lomé.

Thank you.

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