Seychelles founding President Sir James Mancham returned to Seychelles yesterday (Friday, July 15), following his visit to Paris, Hamburg, and London, during which time he held discussions and explored possible collaboration and support from various international institutions as he briefed them on the launching by the University of Seychelles of a “Sir James Mancham International Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy.”
His last stop was in London where on Monday 11th July, he hosted a lunch at the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) for the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland, QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. Also attending the lunch and meeting were Seychelles High Commissioner to the UK and Northern Ireland, Mrs Marie-Pierre Lloyd and Mr. David Banks – Public Affairs Adviser to the Secretary-General.
It is to be noted that the Commonwealth was mandated by Heads of States at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Malta in November 2015, to explore and champion ways to tackle terrorism, violence & extremism, in the pursuit of bringing about a more peaceful world. In this respect, Sir James and the Secretary-General concurred that education has a critical role to play.
It was agreed that the launch of such a Centre was opportune – “While Seychelles is a peaceful and neutral country with ethnic and social harmony, it is yet situated in a geo-political area of increasing tension and unrest,” the two parties agreed.
It was finally concluded that the Centre created by the University of Seychelles and the Commonwealth should explore areas of possible cooperation and collaboration, not just with the Commonwealth Secretariat but with the whole Commonwealth Family – notably Commonwealth of Learning; Commonwealth Scholarships.
The Secretary-General also suggested that they could also look at other countries offering similar programmes and explore collaboration and sharing of best practices.
Few days before his London meeting, Sir James had met with Ms Alexandra Wandel – Director and Vice Chair of the Management Board of the World Future Council (WFC) in Hamburg, Germany, and Mr Holger Guessefeld – a member of the Board of WFC, whose organisation was interested in establishing an office for its Peace Commission within the University of Seychelles Peace Centre. In this connection, it was agreed that WFC should send a representative delegation to Seychelles to discuss this possibility at some mutually convenient time this autumn.
At his meeting with the Directors of WFC in Hamburg, Sir James informed them of the e-mail he had received from Mr Mark Donfried – Founder and Chief Executive of the Berlin-based Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) –
“In response to your questions, we see two initial ways where substantial cooperation could be established between the ICD and the Centre:
1. Developing & Offering of Joint Graduate Programs – We see an excellent opportunity to build on the experience the ICD partnering with 8 different universities and offering over 30 academic programmes so far, in order to develop and offer together with the Sir James Mancham International Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy a Master’s Degree in Peace Studies and Cultural Diplomacy as well as PhD’s in the field of Peace Studies & Cultural Diplomacy.
2. Consultancy & Mediation – We have taken note that consultancy will play a key role in the work of the centre, with assignments to undertake different aspects of conflict resolution. The ICD would be pleased to partner with the CENTRE for such consultancy and to organize delegation trips where we would send groups of experts and practioners to different hot spots around the world in order to support and offer mediation guidance.”
It is to be recalled that before going to Germany, Sir James had a stop-over in Paris where he was hosted by Monsieur Olivier Giscard d’Estaing – Co-Founder of INSEAD, which was recently considered by The Financial Times as the world’s leading Business School. At the moment, INSEAD has three campuses – one in Fontainebleu (France) – one in Singapore and a third in Abu Dhabi (UAE).
On Tuesday 5th July, in the company of Monsieur Olivier Giscard d’Estaing, Sir James over lunch met with a selected number of the Executive Board of the School which included Mr Peter Zemsky – the deputy Dean; with Hans H. Wahl – Director of Social Entrepreneurship Initiative and with Christine Hirzel – Global Head of Boards and External Relations at their exclusive and highly modern campus in Fontainebleau to discuss a possible win-win collaboration between the University of Seychelles School of Business Studies and INSEAD.
Taking into account the fact that INSEAD is actually active in Europe, Asia and the Middle-East, Sir James told his host that Seychelles could constitute an important hub for INSEAD’s educational activities and social entrepreneurship for the continent of Africa. “At this time in its history the continent of Africa need more entrepreneurs and less politicians and Generals,” Sir James said.
This morning (Saturday 16th July), Sir James disclosed that he had received, upon his return, an encouraging e-mail from Monsieur Olivier Giscard d’Estaing and would discuss with the University of Seychelles concerning an early meeting with representatives of INSEAD.
I would like to let you know how much I appreciated your visit and your discussions both at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at INSEAD. All those you met have confirmed their interest in your project and their pleasure of meeting with you….”