Besides large-scale summits, the New World Summit also develops embassies in collaboration with stateless states, autonomist groups, and blacklisted political organizations, entitled New World Embassies. The first edition, titled New World Embassy: Azawad, was a temporary embassy constructed in BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, which represented, through cultural means, the state of Azawad declared independent by the National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA) in 2012.
Although not recognized by any other state in the world, Azawad’s claim to independence is an outcome of a lengthy, conflict-ridden struggle with and against the legacy of French colonialism in Africa. Led by the Kel Tamasheq (Tuareg), the movement strives toward the realization of the right to self-determination for multiethnic populations including the Fula, Arab, and Songhai peoples from the Western Sahara and north-central Sahel regions. After years of conflict with jihadist groups, the MNLA – at the time New World Embassy: Azawad was inaugurated – was negotiating the future of their territory with the French mission Operation Serval and the United Nation’s MINUSMA, of which the Dutch army was also a part.
The embassy consisted of a floor map of the North-African continent, from which the newly erected state of Azawad emerged as the negotiating table around which diplomatic meetings took place, the feet of the table painted in its national colors. Politicians, diplomats, journalists, and academics performatively “pre-recognized” the reality of the state of Azawad by taking seat at the table. In the back of the embassy hung a map, redrawn by the Kel Tamasheq, Songhai and Arab constituents of the new state, surrounded by photos from the period of its declaration of independence made by ambassador, writer, and European representative of the MNLA Moussa Ag Assarid. Together, these elements introduced visitors of the embassy to the political, cultural, economic, and military endeavors of the national liberation movement.
The New World Embassy: Azawad operated for one month, and was inaugurated through a gathering between Azawadian ambassador Moussa Ag Assarid and political scientist Jolle Demmers (Center for Conflict Studies, Utrecht University); Fathi Ben Khalifa (World Amazigh Congress); politician Jasper van Dijk (Socialist Party, Netherlands); independent war journalist Arnold Karskens; and diplomat Jeroen Zandberg (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization).
Moussa Ag Assarid and Jonas Staal
BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht
Moussa Ag Assarid (writer, European representative of the National Liberation Movement of Azawad); Mazou Ibrahim Touré (artist, National Liberation Movement of Azawad); Jonas Staal (artist); Paul Kuipers (architect); Remco van Bladel (graphic designer); Younes Bouadi (producer); Renée In der Maur (project coordinator); Imara Limon (communication manager); Gabriëlle Provaas, Rob Schröder (film makers); Ernie Buts (photographer)
Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam (NL)