UNDP Supports International Conference on Eritrean Studies held in AsmaraJul 22, 2016
22 July 2016, Asmara, Eritrea. Over 500 academics, policy-makers, journalists and diplomats from Eritrea and around the world attended the International Conference on Eritrean Studies (ICES), which was held in Asmara, Eritrea on 20-22 July 2016. The conference was jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea and the United Nations Development Programme in Eritrea.
This three-day international conference sought to expand international scholarship on Eritrea, strengthen academic links between Eritrean and international scholars and academic institutions as well as increase the provision and dissemination of high-class research and balanced information on Eritrea.
His Excellency Yemane Gebremeskel, Minister of Information for the State of Eritrea, opened the conference by welcoming participants and highlighting the importance of the event in furthering research and scholarship on Eritrean studies. In particular, he hoped that the conference would “lay the ground for building and strengthening a structured network linking research centers in Government Ministries, institutions of tertiary education in the country, academics in the Diaspora and foreign research bodies interested in the region”.
In her welcome address, Dr Josephine Namboze, Representative for the World Health Organisation in Eritrea speaking on behalf of the UN Eritrea Resident Coordinator, reminded participants that 2016 marked the 25th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence and that the international conference was being held at a timely and important moment.
The ICES in Asmara was organised by the Eritrean National Commission for Higher Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Research and Documentation Centre and the Eritrean Strategic Studies Centre. Preparations for the multi-disciplinary conference began in mid-2015 with the establishment of various committees responsible for content as well as the complex organisation and logistics of the conference.
Over three days, scholars and policy-makers presented research and policy papers on a wide range of cross-cutting themes including Eritrea’s foreign policy and regional relations, its post-independence national development, arts and culture, Eritrean history and archaeology and the origins and emergence of Eritrean nationalism.
After three days of robust and intense deliberations, the UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Christine N. Umutoni, addressed the closing ceremony and congratulated the conference organisers for a successful event and thanked participants “for sharing their knowledge and fascinating perspectives on Eritrea”, which she said had “enriched our appreciation of the country”. She supported the idea that the ICES be held regularly and pledged the UN’s continued support; noting that continuous dialogue and studies on the country are a good contribution to national policies and a major contributing factor to shaping the vision and development agenda of the country.
His Excellency Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the State of Eritrea, closed the conference with a final address in which he thanked scholars for travelling, in many cases great distances, to attend the conference. He applauded the intellectual range of papers presented at the conference and underlined the importance of academic research in order to reveal fact-based evidence. He concluded by announcing that the Government of the State of Eritrea would support further conferences and initiatives like the ICES.
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