The Founder and Executive Director, Vasu Gounden, was recently invited by the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria to meet with the Swedish Co-chair of the Swedish-South Africa SSR Seminar, Ambassador Anders Oljelund, who is is currently the Swedish Ambassador for international cooperation against trafficking in human beings
and is based at the European Security Policy Department at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The seminar is scheduled to be held in Stockholm from 1-2 October 2007, and Mr Gounden will be one of the presenters.
The meeting with Ambassador Oljelund and a delegation including Deputy Director Asa Andrae and Desk Officer Johan Carlsson from the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs took place on 4 September.
In January 2006 Ambassador Oljelund was appointed as a mediator in the Darfur conflict in Sudan, as a member of the EU’s Special Representative’s staff in Sudan. He has previously held posts as Sweden’s Ambassador to Belgium, Head of the Swedish NATO delegation in Brussels, and Head of the Department for Global Development at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Mr Oljelund has also served in Kinshasa, Rome and Dar es Salaam.
On 19 April, Mr. Gounden participated in a one-day planning seminar on broader cooperation between South Africa and Sweden, which was held at the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria. The main purpose of the seminar was to reflect on the practical experiences and lessons learned to this point, and to share these with a number of key stakeholders from Sweden and South Africa. The aim was to gain new insights that would help to explore new (and existing) opportunities for broader cooperation.
Sida is one of ACCORD’s larger donors, and contributes substantially to ACCORD’s activities on the continent of Africa. In 1996, as part of ACCORD’s International Youth Programme for Peace, Development and Reconciliation, a training was conducted in Durban, South Africa, that brought together youth from Burundi, Sweden and KwaZulu Natal to train them in business and life skills. Over the years, ACCORD has worked with the Swedish Defence College on training courses related to ACCORD’s Peace and Security Unit, and in 2004 ACCORD worked with the South African Representative Office and the Palestine-based Sida, to present workshops on South Africa’s negotiation process. In March 2006 ACCORD was invited by Sida to host the first two days of their biannual, strategic Africa conference (as the focus of the conference was on conflict resolution and post conflict reconstruction in Africa). In December 2006 Vasu Gounden was one of three African analysts/commentators invited by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be a resource person at a roundtable discussion on the new Swedish Policy for Global Development, to give a perspective from the South. Mr Gounden is also a resource person to the Folke Bernadotte Academy on their courses focusing on “Facilitation of Dialogue Processes and Mediation Efforts” that has included training for Staff of the United Nations Department of Political Affairs. In 2007 Mr Gounden was invited by the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria to participate in an exploratory Security Sector Reform (SSR) meeting, which is a pre-meeting to a bilateral seminar to be hosted by the Swedish National Defence College (SNDC) in Stockholm in June 2007. ACCORD then hosted members of the delegation, headed by Mikael Wilhelmsson, the Administrative Director at the Department for Security and Strategic Studies at the SNDC, at ACCORD House where they met with ACCORD staff and learnt more about ACCORD’s current and future SSR activities.