Between the 20th and 22nd of December 2012 the Third Humanist Forum of West Africa took place in Lomé, Togo (following forums in Ivory Coast in September 2010 and Mali in September 2011).
Joining the Togolese humanists were delegations from Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Mali, Ghana and Liberia.
Several representatives of various Togolese ministries, NGOs and political parties also took part together with experts.
The aim was to study the necessary conditions and propose instruments that favour the emergence of a new generation of Africans based on solidarity, respecting and applying Human Rights in order to install a participative democracy and fight against poverty, unemployment and hunger in Africa.
The central theme was: “Peace and Reconciliation in Africa,” highlighting how social contradiction is the product of economic violence that is exercised when a minority of the population appropriates the greater part of social wealth.
Over the three days the following issues were developed:
– the background of Human Rights in Africa, with the Kouroukan Fouga (the constitution of the Mali Empire) from 1236 that already recognised the sacred character of human life, the issues of succession, the role of mediators, etc…
It emerged much before the current Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
– the consolidation of Peace and the resolution of electoral problems that frequently threaten to occur. Proposals were elaborated in order to promote free and transparent elections.
– Youth employment as an important theme for all African governments. The causes and necessary measures were studied, being very urgent to also resolve the non-existent social security for those made redundant, as well as those who have never been able to find work. Although several projects were presented to favour advances in these matters, it was evident that there remains much to do.
– Environment, sustainable development and Human Rights: the present state of the situation was described as a consequence of pollution arising from flooding and droughts, the proliferation of disease (cholera, malaria) and the reduction in biodiversity.
Solutions were studied such as respect for existing environmental legislation by companies and the rational exploitation of resources that implies a more equitable distribution.
– Presentation of the video “Silo, Sage of the Andes” that relates the birth of the current of thought started by Silo, calling for active nonviolence as fundamental for the development of a New Humanism (or Universalist Humanism).
– Food security, defined as the possibility to acquire quality food products in sufficient quantities to sustain a healthy and active life. The current situation was presented and solutions were proposed considering responsible factors such as; poverty, difficulties related to the management of water, the lack of autonomy of women and the transmission of AIDS, not forgetting contamination by chemical fertilisers and their consequences for ground water, among others.
– Education for Nonviolence, defined as the rejection of harming others, or better, the option of learning to “treat others as one would like to be treated”. So it was resolved to establish a “Permanent Council of Active Nonviolence” (PCAN). The work will be carried out on three levels simultaneously: institutional, individual and social. So the first African Campaign for Education for Nonviolence will set out from Lomé in Togo on the 2nd of October 2013 (international day of nonviolence) and end in Mozambique on the 4th of May 2014 (birthday of the Humanist Movement). This will generate enthusiasm and sustain progress of the future generations towards a culture of Peace and Nonviolence.
The West African Humanists concluded by preparing a declaration recommending the creation and/or development of three useful “tools” to advance with projects in the desired direction:
– The Humanist Party in the political field, in order to promote the development of processes for real and participative democracy that will permit the resolution, together with the people, of the various problems presented during the Forum.
– The Community for Human Development will promote the creation of PCAN and work for interchange and rapprochement between cultures.
– The organisation “World without Wars and Violence” will coordinate with different organisms and act in favour of peaceful solutions that arise from violence and war in accordance with the ideal of protection of human life.
Conscious that this is no more than a start, launched by courageous people working so that conditions may be increasingly favourable for those working for liberty and human justice, it was agreed to meet again with new participants, in order to thereby enrich the interchanges and projects in the 4th West African Humanist Forum that will take place in Guinea Conakry (dates and details to be decided).