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2018 University Essay Competition


  • Are you an African student concerned about peace and security on the continent?
  • Do you believe your future is in any way affected by current peace and security challenges on the African continent?
  • Would you want your voice to be heard on these issues?
  • Do you have a passion for writing?

If so, you should participate in the 2018 Tana Forum University Essay Competition. The Tana Forum is an annual gathering of African leaders and stakeholders to engage and explore African-led security solutions in peace and security. The competition is organized by the Tana Forum Secretariat, based at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.


The authors of the top three essays will be invited to attend the 7th Tana Forum on 21-22 April 2018 in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. The highest-scoring student will also have the opportunity to deliver an oral presentation to the Forum’s participants, who include African Heads of State, high-level dignitaries and officials from international organizations, academic, civil society and the private sector.


Topic: “African Ownership: Financing and Reforming the African Union”


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The application of the principle of ownership in the field of peace and security through the auspices of the AU faces many difficulties, as local stakeholders might lack sufficient will or capacity for peace-building and state-building. Understanding ownership helps to strategically examine the roles and functions of external actors in the goals of peace-building and state-building. In a rapidly changing global and African policy environment, there is an obvious need for more powerful and effective AU institutions with the capacity to assume strong ownership on continental and global peace and security matters.



Guiding questions


The 7th Tana Forum will focus on the theme: “Ownership of Africa’s Peace and Security Provision: Financing and Reforming the African Union”. The choice of the topic, in many ways, reflects the urgent need to discuss debate and establish a thorough understanding of the principle of ownership by the AU in delivering its mandate, particularly in the peace and security landscape.


The essay competition forms part of this consultative debate, and is envisioned to facilitate discussions around the following critical questions:

  • What are the likely implementation bottlenecks, and how can they be overcome?
  • What should be considered to effectively and faithfully secure compliance by AU Member States?
  • Beyond financing, what more needs to be done to ensure that AU Member States own their security agenda and effectively address Africa’s peace and security challenges?
  • What is required to enable the AU achieve full ownership of the continent’s peace and security provisions even under a regime of fiscal autonomy?



  • Applicants must be African citizens;
  • Applicants must be enrolled at a recognized African university (BA, MA or PhD).



  1. Entries must be typed, double-spaced, in 12-point Times New Roman with a one-inch margin on all sides.
  2. Essays must be between 5-10 pages in length excluding reference materials.
  3. Essay must be the original work of the applicant supported by a comprehensive list of sources. Essays on topics other than “African Ownership: Financing and Reforming the African Union” will not be accepted. 
  4. Essays must be written in English or French.
  5. A bibliography must be included with a minimum of three primary sources, i.e. books, periodicals or newspapers. Other sources may be accessed online, provided they are cited correctly. Any submissions lacking three primary sources will be disqualified.
  6. Any essay using crowd-sourced and publicly editable sources such as Wikipedia will be disqualified.
  7. Essays must be submitted in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) format. Essays submitted in any other format will not be considered.

Submission instructions


Email your essay with your name, university, degree title (BA, MA or PhD.), country of origin, contact information (email address, telephone number) to: Dr. Pamela Mbabazi ( and Dr. Sunday Okello ( copying Elyab Tilahun ( before 11:59 EST on Monday, 15 January 2018.

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