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African peace practitioners’ alumni of Responding to Conflict launched the Coalition for Peace in Africa (COPA) in 1995. They recognised conflicts as major contributors both to African people’s suffering as well as stifling poverty and underdevelopment. Their strategy was to establish a network of mutual support among peace practitioners and to create opportunities to popularize peace building skills and tools in affected communities.
In the past fifteen years COPA grew as a network bringing together organisations and individuals working to address conflict and build peace on the African continent. Current COPA trainers and participants are in key positions at United Nations agencies, at the African Union, in national governments, in civil society and as leaders in their communities.
COPA, with its partners, develop African approaches to peace building informed by the lifestyles, traditions and cultures of the people living in Africa to solve African conflicts. The Coalition offers capacity building skills coupled with community advocacy and action research to address conflicts at their different stages, manifestations and aftermath. COPA targets women and youth in particular as dynamic and crucial actors in bringing peace to their communities. Through its work, the coalition develops and strengthens local capacities for peace.
COPA works on three core areas, capacity building, research and advocacy. The organisation is thereby promoting conflict management and peace-building initiatives through capacity building and skills training, exchange visits, mentoring and capacity enhancement. It implements action research on thematic issues to understand conflict dynamics and find locally grown solutions for communities to resolve problems peacefully. Through its research and capacity building work COPA identifies the realities and needs at grassroute level, advocates for peace and carries out non-confrontational policy dialogue.