Eritrea: UNDP-sponsored conference urges closer ties between scholars and development experts

Aug 2, 2016

The goal of ICES was to promote first-rate research and scholarship on Eritrea as well as strengthen ties between Eritrean and foreign academic institutions. Photo: Eritrean Ministry of Information

Over 500 academics, policy-makers, journalists and diplomats from Eritrea and around the world attended the first International Conference on Eritrean Studies (ICES), in Asmara, Eritrea from 20 to 22 July 2016. The conference was jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

The goal of the three-day gathering was to promote first-rate research and scholarship on Eritrea as well as strengthen ties between Eritrean and foreign academic institutions.

Mr. Yemane Gebremeskel, Eritrea’s Minister of Information, opened the conference by highlighting its importance in “laying the ground for building and strengthening a structured network linking research centres in Government Ministries, institutions of tertiary education in the country, academics in the Diaspora and foreign research bodies”.

In her welcome address, Dr Josephine Namboze, Representative for the World Health Organisation and acting UN Resident Coordinator in Eritrea stressed the timeliness of ICES as 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of Eritrea’s independence. 

ICES was held under the aegis of the Eritrean National Commission for Higher Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Research and Documentation Centre, the Eritrean Strategic Studies Centre, and UNDP.  Preparations for the multi-disciplinary conference began in mid-2015 with the establishment of various committees responsible for content.

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 relations with neighbouring countries, its development prospects, arts and culture, and history.

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 ICES be held regularly and pledged the UN’s continued support, noting that continuous dialogue and studies are a good contribution to national policies and a key factor in shaping the development agenda of the country.

In his closing statement, Mr. Osman Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the State of Eritrea, lauded the quality of papers presented at the conference and underscored the importance of fact-based academic research.  Mr. Saleh also announced that the Government of Eritrea would support the organization of similar conferences and initiatives.

For more information please contact:

In Asmara, Mansoor Mirza, Policy Specialist:

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