Columbia University’s African Diplomatic Forum Explores New Frontier of Leadership

The 2013 African Diplomatic Forum at Columbia University, Friday November 22nd, 2013. (Tadias photo)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Monday, November 25th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – As Africa grapples to adopt to the rapidly changing global media environment, transparency and a paradigm shift in public leadership, the impact of new media on society and good governance in Africa was one of the topics highlighted at the 7th Annual African Diplomatic Forum (ADF) on Friday at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Tadias Magazine was a media sponsor of this year’s conference, which was themed ‘The New Frontier of African Leadership.’

“New media and technology are changing the way millions of Africans communicate and connect with one another on a slew of social and economic issues,” the ADF 2013 press release noted.

Keynote speakers this year included George Ayittey, Founder and President of Free Africa Foundation and Author of Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Development as well as Colin Coleman, Head of Investment Banking, Sub-Saharan Africa at Goldman Sachs.

The forum featured panel discussions on fostering investment in African infrastructure, the role of the press on society and good governance, human rights law and building African capacities for justice, and women as catalysts of change in the African development story.

Tseliso Thipanyane, Former CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission and current Lecturer at Columbia University Law School addressed the issue of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent indictment by the International Criminal Court and the Kenyan Parliament’s subsequent vote to withdraw from the ICC. “What does it mean for the fight against impunity in Africa? What does it mean for the rule of law and African countries themselves upholding their own constitution and addressing issues of crimes against humanity?” Thipanyane asked the audience. “For me, I think it is completely unacceptable for African leaders to say that no sitting heads of state should be tried in an international criminal court. That is nonsense.” Thipanyane added. “I mean in my country we don’t have that. No one is above the law. And secondly that’s what we all signed up for and agreed to when we ratified the Rome Statute. We will not have impunity for heads of state.”

Thipanyane, further pointed out that although Kenya’s constitution does provide immunity from prosecution for the president of Kenya in his country, he noted that “however, the very same constitution says that he can be prosecuted internationally.” In order for the Kenyans to abide by their constitution they pulled out from the ICC and claimed ‘Okay now we are not party to any international treaty.’ Thipanyane asserted that granting impunity to heads of state from being indicted by the ICC will only encourage leaders to hold on to their power for life and strongly condemned making such exemptions.

The gathering concluded with a networking session for attendees. Below is a video excerpt and photos from the event as well as a description of the various panels.


Panel 1: Bridging the Gap: Fostering Investment in African Infrastructure
Moderator: Akbar Noman, Senior Fellow, Initiative for Policy Dialogue; and Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
H.E. Mr. Mahmoud Thiam, Founding Partner and CEO, Thiam & Co; and Former Minister of Mining, Energy and Hydraulics, Republic of Guinea
Joel Moser, Partner and Head, Energy & Infrastructure Group of Kaye Scholer LLP; and Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Mark Rosenberg, Senior Analyst for Africa, The Eurasia Group
Jamal Saghir, Director, Sustainable Development Department, Africa Region, World Bank

Panel 2: New Media, New Voices: The Impact of New Media on Society and Good Governance
Moderator: Anya Schiffrin, Director, Journalism Training Programs, Initiative for Policy Dialogue; and Director, International Media, Advocacy, and Communications Specialization, School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Emmanuel K. Dogbevi, Founder and Managing Online Director,
Karen Attiah, Freelance Journalist, Blogger, and Consultant, World Bank (SIPA Graduate, 2012)
Dayo Olopade, Journalist and Writer, The New Republic, Slate, Dailybeast; and Knight Law and Media Scholar, Yale University
Erika Rodigues, Social Marketing and Branding Specialist,

Panel 3: Human Rights, Law, and Building African Capacities for Justice
Mahmood Mamdani, Director, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, Uganda; and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, and Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
Tseliso Thipanyane, Adjunct Lecturer, Columbia University Law School; and Former CEO of the South African Human Rights Commission

Panel 4: Women as Catalysts of Change in the African Development Story
Moderator: Sara Minard, Socio-economist and Lecturer-in-Discipline of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
Farai Gundan, Co-founder, and Contributor, Forbes USA, Forbes Africa, Forbes Women Africa, Forbes Life Africa
Mpule K. Kwelagobe, Managing Director, Pula Agriculture Fund; Founder, MPULE Institute for Endogenous Development; and President of Botswana-based MPULE Foundation
Katie Meyler, Founder, More than Me (MTM) – MTM gets girls off the street and off to school in one of the poorest slums in Liberia.
Macintosh Johnson, Program Coordinator, More than Me, Liberia
H.E Dr. Hadja Saran Daraba Kabba, First woman secretary-general of the four-nation Mano River Union (The Mano River Union, which comprises Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, was established in 1973 with the objective of promoting regional integration along economic lines).

The African Diplomatic Forum is one of the largest Africa-focused gatherings taking place at the Columbia campus bringing together scholars, policy makers, leaders and development practitioners.
Sponsors of ADF 2013 include Arik Air and Columbia University Institute of African Studies. Media sponsors included MediAfritiQ, Face2Face Africa,, Tadias Magazine, Afrique Expansion, Africa Trade, Africa 2.0, 3G Media, and Africa Women Power.

Learn more about the Columbia University African Diplomatic Form (CUADF) at

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