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The Coalition for Peace in Africa (COPA) is a network of peace builders in Africa formed in 1995 when a group of concerned African peace practitioners met in Kenya to exchange their insights and experiences on the prevention of the escalation of violent conflicts in Africa. They were convinced that they needed to offer appropriate and continuous practical support to people and organizations on the ground faced with violent conflicts and potentially volatile situations. They also recognised conflict as a major contributor to Africa’s deplorable state of poverty and underdevelopment.
The practitioners who came together found that there were no appropriate support networks in Africa at the time for them to access and work together. Initial membership of the network came from different parts of Africa mainly alumni of Responding to Conflict (RTC) Working with Conflict Course offered once or twice a year in England. Later on, membership expanded to include other individuals and organizations interested in peace and security all over Africa.
At the onset, the Coalition established a secretariat in Johannesburg, South Africa, later moving to Nairobi, Kenya in 2001. The organization also launched regional offices in Uganda, Somalia, Burundi, and South Africa to have a physical presence in selected regions in Africa. In 2008, COPA decided to reduce its physical infrastructure across Africa and instead to invest in expanding its knowledge and skills-based strength to respond to the emerging needs at the continental level. This decision came due to financial limitations and also due to the realization of the emergence of local peace groups in many countries. Currently COPA is registered as a Trust in Kenya with close relationship with local organizations and practitioners throughout Africa and with collaborative activities in the Southern, Eastern, Horn, Central, and Great Lakes regions of Africa.
Today COPA associates with non-governmental and community-based organizations as well as individuals. The Coalition supports their efforts through trainings, advocacy, and research initiatives throughout the African continent.
COPA’s continental outlook enables the organization to be a diverse and wide-ranging network of peace builders with the capacity to influence peace agendas around the continent. COPA’s purpose is to build the capacity of its partners to become more effective in their responses to conflict and security situations as well as to be a resource to each other. COPA also gives support to existing peace and development service providers in Africa in their effort to achieve sustainable peace in the continent.
To attain its objectives, COPA 1) offers tailor-made and culturally sensitive peacebuilding and conflict transformation (PBCT) trainings at various levels by connecting people with skills and experience in PBCT with those who need capacity building in peace work, 2) raises the profile of emerging or neglected African conflict related issues through research and publications, and 3) encourages advocacy with elected and appointed officials on conflict and peace building initiatives.