How many of us have taken time this year to remember that 2015 is the 70th year anniversary of the defeat of fascism? How many of us have even heard of, or at least remembered, the once famous Bandung conference of 1955?
Looking back is often the best way to begin if we are trying to work out where we are, and where it is we should be going next. Remembering the defeat of fascism and the significant shift of global forces this period heralded reminds us that dominant world orders are only ever temporary. Recalling the spirit of the discussions in Bandung, the first meeting of newly independent African and Asian states that met in 1955 to promote cooperation and oppose colonialism, reminds us also of quite how far we have already come.
2015 will also be remembered as a year in which shifting global forces struggled to find a new equilibrium. Will we emerge with a multi-polar world, and a new commitment to dialogue and cooperative problem solving, recognising the interconnectedness of our common future? Or are we destined to become observers of a rising militarized approach to dealing with differences as existing world powers use force to entrench and consolidate dominant forms of maintaining power and control?
Against the backdrop of these discussions the ASC Steering Committee was invited to present a paper at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies in early June on how the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) could be utilised in helping to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals. Readers will recall the ASC involvement in discussions surrounding the Post 2015 Development Agenda. With the June 2nd release of the Zero Draft of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), an effort to combine parallel tracks of global discussions Post Rio and Post 2015, the opportunities and challenges surrounding a negotiated global universal development agenda have become increasingly apparent.
With the 6th Forum on China Africa Cooperation scheduled for November 2015, and hosted by South Africa, the Shanghai conference provided a useful opportunity to stop and reflect on where the global process has got to, and what potential the rest of 2015 might hold for greater African and other developing country voices in determining the nature of future development trajectories. Co-hosted by Saferworld and the China University of Political Science and Law the discussions included speakers from several African and Chinese institutes. Topics included the role of China in addressing the root causes of conflicts in Africa, the future of peace in volatile regions like East Africa and the Great Lakes and the implications of shifting global power relations and global governance for peace on the continent.
This policy engagement by the ASC complements the community-based consultations we have been hosting around the Post 2015 Development Agenda. Our intention is to develop a counter-narrative to the dominating doomsday scenarios that suggest developing country governments are just elites co-opted by global forces intent on maintaining underdevelopment and that these forces control our lives to such an extent that it is only through revolution and confrontation that any change will come.
Stressing the indivisibility of the peace and development agendas, the blurring of domestic and international priorities, the limitations of a nation state approach to changing the underlying structural and systemic barriers to transformation and the importance of cooperative integrated contributions from all sectors of society the ASC is promoting new approaches to development and peacebuilding. These approaches will tap into the collective potential of international movements that think globally while acting locally, and that put into practice the power of solidarity approaches in our shared efforts to build a counter force that can take advantage of the opportunities presented by the SDG’s, FOCAC and Agenda 2063 to drive a truly transformative peace and development agenda.