The Department of Science and Technology (DST) – National Research  Foundation (NRF)  Centre  in Indigenous  Knowledge  Systems at the  University of  KwaZulu-Natal (Durban, South Africa), in collaboration with The African  Centre for the  Constructive Resolution of  Disputes (ACCORD), the  Africa Programme-UN University of Peace (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and Municipal Institute Of Learning  (MILE), eThekwini  Municipality (Durban, South Africa)  are organising a Special Forum on: Advancing Global Security, International Trade and Human Rights:  The Role of African Indigenous Institutions.  The Forum is part of the BRICS countries International Conference on IKS for Sustainable Food Security and Environmental Governance for Climate Change Adaptation, to be held at the ICC, Durban, South Africa (13-14 September 2016).

The forum interrogates the role of principles, values and social mechanisms inherent in African indigenous institutions including traditional leadership in addressing contemporary challenges of global security, human rights and international trade. Globally, societies are increasingly becoming vulnerable to climate change, food insecurity and environmental degradation.  This exposes people and communities to poverty and insecurity that lead to forced migration. The forum organisers realise the importance of good governance and international cooperation to promote global security, human rights and fair international trade. In the context of this forum the security and the rights of the individuals are inextricably linked to those of the cultural community including their indigenous institutions and value systems. In the African cultural context they encompass Ubuntu relational   principles and values of reciprocity and respect for the environment.  Cultural entities such as extended families, religious brotherhoods and ethno-linguistic groups which are domestic in nature tend to operate on these principles and value systems. When these principles are entrenched in inter- and co- dependence of states and peoples relations, they foster mutual respect for each other and co-operation in problem solving.

There is also a growing realization that the engagement with local communities through their indigenous institutions including knowledge systems and indigenous languages mitigates the mistake, which tends to be done throughout Africa, of alienating people and communities from public and private sectors initiatives in the socio-economic development process. Therefore, the significance of incorporating local communities’ indigenous institutions including their knowledge systems and languages in promoting global security, human rights and trade relations is based on the awareness that once people and communities feel that they are part of the business of the state, they become inspired and ready to protect the state, resources and the environment in general as a home and place of work.  This further brings the primacy of people’s urgency that local communities using their own indigenous institutions must shape their own geography, own future, history and environmental security.  Environmental degradation knows no boundaries in terms of climate change patterns and their adverse effects on food security, human rights and trade relations. The insecurity of the environment affects everyone regardless of race, class and gender. Therefore, its mitigation requires a collective effort within and across national borders.


This international forum brings together development agencies, organised civic society, business sector, policy makers, practitioners and traditional leaders from within and outside BRICS countries to share experience-based approaches to promote global security and international human understanding. The forum topics to be addressed within the context of indigenous institutions include:

  • Natural Resources as Security Imperatives
  • Sustainable Peacebuilding and Development
  • Democracy and Human Rights
  • Climate Change and Natural Disaster Management
  • Educational Transformation
  • International Trade
  • Transnational Terrorism
  • International Youth Migration
  • Fight Against Human Trafficking
  • Intergenerational Communication and Moral Regeneration
  • Food Security as Security Imperative
  • Cultural Diversity and Social Cohesion
  • Poverty as Security Imperative


Key Questions:

  1. How can indigenous institutions and associated value systems, especially those with trans-border cultural identities, promote transnational consensus for global security, international trade and human rights?
  2. How can indigenous institutions be instruments for mobilising the youth in contributing towards global security and peace-building for food security and environmental governance for climate change adaptation?
  3. To what extent can the BRICS countries create a robust hybrid models for interfacing indigenous and modern institutions to ensure global security for food security and environmental governance for climate change adaptation?
  4. How can Ubuntu as an indigenous value system, be leveraged by national and international institutions to foster global security, peace-building and human rights for sustainable food security and natural resource management?
  5. How can indigenous institutions use modern institutions such as schools, hospitals, farms, businesses, workplaces to promote global security and human rights?
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