Burundi, Peace Day 2017 © CENAP

Helping societies to manage conflicts peacefully
Celebrating 30 years of Interpeace with its President, Itonde Kakoma
1 Mar 2024

Itonde Kakoma began his role at Interpeace headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland having spent two years in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as Permanent Representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to the African Union and International Organisations. He was also appointed IFRC’s Director for Global Humanitarian Diplomacy in January 2023. His previous roles include Director for Global Strategy at CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation and Assistant Director for the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Center.

As an international peacebuilding organization, Interpeace has been at the forefront of creating practical local leadership, design and ownership of conflict resolution processes. For almost 30 years, the organization has supported peacebuilding efforts around the world. Interpeace tailors its approach to local needs, empowering affected communities to take ownership of peacebuilding processes. Interpeace also assists the international community – especially the United Nations – to play a more effective role in peacebuilding. A first-generation American of East African descent, Itonde Kakoma has extensive practical experience in peace mediation, conflict resolution and humanitarian diplomacy. He will bring this expertise to lead Interpeace’s efforts around the world and contribute to new policies that will shift the global approach to peacebuilding.

“Itonde Kakoma is uniquely qualified and an exceptional leader. Interpeace’s Governing Board recognizes the need to adapt peacebuilding to the rapidly changing global context of peace and security, and to bring on board a new leader for a new and challenging future. With Itonde’s experience and knowledge of peacebuilding policy and its practical application, I am confident that we have a new president for the future, who will take forward Interpeace and advance peacebuilding globally,” said Amre Moussa, Chair of the Interpeace Governing Board.

The early focus of Kakoma’s Presidency is expected to be on leading wide-ranging listening exercises and consultations on adaptations to the organization’s current five year strategy: ‘A Resilient Peace,’ and on building and charting the future trajectory of the organization as it marks its 30th anniversary in 2024. Kakoma continues to visit some of the countries where Interpeace is supporting local communities and national governments, beginning in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.

“I was thrilled to join Interpeace, where the principles of empowering communities towards national ownership to ensure effective solutions to conflict and crisis is more than just a belief acquired over time – it is part of the organization’s core identity. Rooted in national ownership with an aim to influence global decision-making, I am persuaded that Interpeace’s organizational vision and mandate are ever more relevant for addressing the multifaceted challenges of our world today and for the future of peacemaking,” Kakoma said.

Interpeace is a strategic partner of the United Nations, with a representative of the UN Secretary-General serving on its Governing Board. The organization has therefore been active in advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and in strengthening linkages and creating greater impact and efficiency between peace, development and humanitarian actors. It is expected that Itonde Kakoma will also focus on key UN global processes, including the contribution of Interpeace to the UN Summit of the Future in 2024 and the Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture in 2025.

“We know that no organization can single-handedly tackle today’s deeply globalized peace and security challenges and the ways in which they manifest themselves in local communities worldwide. Partnerships between governments and organizations are crucial and these must be accountable to the people they serve. The international community, including humanitarian, development and peace actors, have a responsibility to rethink current approaches and utilize our collective assets,” Kakoma said.

“We must make a reality of global commitments to women and youth, especially in peace and security by moving from norms to agency and impact. When women and young people are involved in decision-making, outcomes are better quality and more durable for entire communities,” Kakoma added.

“Interpeace is marking 30 years of experience in accompanying states and communities to resolve conflict, build trust, and strengthen social cohesion. It has an equally long history of challenging established concepts in peace-making and developing new methods in service of the international community. Recent work to rethink overly-militarized stabilization missions and to create new sources of finance for peace are examples of the global public goods that I look forward to achieving in the years ahead,” Kakoma concludes. 

* Luvini Ranasinghe is the Head of Communications at Interpeace.
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