Potsdam Spring Dialogues 2015

CC BY-ND 2.0 European Commission DG ECHO/flickr

Disease Control and Prevention in Africa:
Current Reforms to Strengthen Regional Cooperation

26-27 March 2015, Potsdam

Conference language: English

- Participation on personal invitation only - 

The Ebola outbreak which began in Guinea in West Africa around a year ago has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. According to the WHO, more than 8,000 people have died in the outbreak so far (as at 6 January 2015). The epidemic also poses a threat to food security in the affected region and is worsening its economic situation. In September 2014, in response to the crisis in the affected countries and the threat of a further spread of the disease, it was discussed by the UN Security Council – the first time that the Council has regarded a disease outbreak as a threat to international peace and security. Antibiotic resistance, neglected and poverty-related diseases and Ebola will also feature on the agenda at the G7 Summit in Bavaria in early June 2015.

According to experts all over the world, the reason why this latest Ebola outbreak has had such devastating effects is not only the high virulence of the pathogen itself, but also – and above all – the overstretched health systems in the affected countries, with poorly equipped hospitals and a shortage of appropriately skilled staff, combined with a lack of awareness across broad sections of society and largely uncoordinated disease control. Regional integration can play a key role in addressing these issues in future. As early as 2005, the WHO, in its International Health Regulations, urged member states to improve their transnational cooperation in this area.

The African Union (AU) and some regional organisations have now responded. Ahead of the 2015 AU Summit, a taskforce met in Addis Ababa in autumn 2014 to discuss key priorities for the establishment of an African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, to be functioning by mid 2015. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is also planning to set up its own Regional Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The West African Health Organisation (WAHO) was established some years ago and aims to promote a collective and strategic response to health problems in the region through the harmonisation of the policies of the member states, pooling of resources, and cooperation with one another and with others. And in Southern Africa, leaders met at an extraordinary summit in summer 2014 and pledged to adopt more intensive prevention and control measures. There are plans to set up a fund here to provide member states with immediate financial assistance in a health emergency.

The Potsdam Spring Dialogues will examine existing and new initiatives on an Africa-wide and regional level and will discuss more effective ways of preventing communicable diseases and curbing outbreaks in future. We will also look at experience from other regions of the world and at the role and possible contribution of international actors (e.g. the WHO and non-governmental organisations).




The Development and Peace Foundation (sef:) and the Institute for Development and Peace (INEF) are launching a new publications series: GLOBAL TRENDS. ANALYSIS. The new series aims to identify options for international policy action in an ever more complex world. Furthermore, it presents perspectives from different world regions. The series analyses current developments and challenges against the background of long-term political trends, and it illustrates facts with figures and tables. GLOBAL TRENDS. ANALYSIS is issued by a team of co-editors from different world regions. For more information, see our press release.

:further info here

Cooperation in a Post-Western World


The Western liberal order finds itself in deep crisis. Global power shifts are accelerating. What does this mean for the future of global cooperation? How can the wish for more national autonomy be reconciled with the need to cooperate in a globalised world? Can new forms of governance contribute to sustaining global cooperation? Michèle Roth and Cornelia Ulbert discuss these questions in the first issue of the new publication series GLOBAL TRENDS. ANALYSIS.

:further info here

How to overcome the impasse in UN Security Council reform


The urgently needed UN Security Council reform has been stuck for decades. Without a far-reaching structural change that includes the end of permanent seats and the veto, the Council is fading into irrelevance. But at a time of great power transitions, multipolarity without sufficient multilateralism is a dangerous trend. Therefore, in GLOBAL TRENDS. ANALYSIS 02|2018, Jakkie Cilliers calls for a political and intellectual leap to overcome the impasse in UN Security Council reform.

:further info here

Global Food Governance


After the food riots around the world in 2007/2008, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) was reformed. Since then, the CFS has developed into an innovative global policy forum that could be a role model for other Global Governance institutions. In the current evaluation process, however, the CFS also faces a number of challenges. What are the main characteristics of the CFS? How can it prove successful in a changing political environment? Nora McKeon answers these questions in the Global Governance Spotlight 2|2018 and exhorts member governments to value and reinforce this unique policy forum.

:further info here