Mr. Osman Keh Kamara, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and Chairperson of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) for the month of December on Tuesday 6th December, 2016 presented the Draft African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020 during the 643rd Meeting of the PSC held at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.
It can be recalled that the African Union Peace and Security Council Retreat on “Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020’’ held in Lusaka, Zambia was chaired by Ambassador Kamara.
As Chairman of Council for the month of December, Ambassador Kamara provided a detailed background of the PSC Retreat in Lusaka its objectives and the way forward in implementing the recommendations adopted at the meeting.
He described the conference as an open mindedness Retreat that would serve as a turning point towards peace and prosperity for the continent.
See below the statement delivered by Ambassador Kamara to the Member States of the African Union Peace and Security Council.
From (L-R) African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, Ambassador Kamara and Madam Neemah Chusi of the African Union Commission Peace and Security Department
DRAFT AFRICAN UNION MASTER ROADMAP OF PRACTICAL STEPS TO SILENCE THE GUNS IN AFRICA BY
Excellencies and Distinguished Representatives of the Peace and Security Council, Staff of the Secretariat of the African Union Peace and Security Council
Let me welcome you to the 643rd Meeting of the PSC in which we are going to consider the Draft African Union Master Roadmap on Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by year 2020, which was adopted during our retreat which took place from 7 to 9 November, 2016 in Lusaka, Zambia.
First of all, I would like to congratulate the Ambassador of Zambia and her team for a well-organized Retreat with the support of the Secretariat. Despite all the challenges we faced, particularly the crash of meetings, I am glad to say that all 15 PSC members were represented in the Retreat.
Excellencies and Distinguished Representatives
The continuing insecurity, instability, disruption of political harmony, erosion of social cohesion, destruction of the economic fabric and public despondency in various parts of Africa call on the Peace and Security Council (PSC) to play a locomotive role in spearheading strategic interventions to put this sad situation to an end.
Most crises and violent conflicts in Africa are being driven by poverty, economic hardships, violation or manipulation of constitutions, violation of human rights, exclusion, inequalities, marginalization and mismanagement of Africa’s rich ethnic diversity, as well as relapses into the cycle of violence in some post-conflict settings and external interference in African affairs. Undoubtedly, these challenges can be overcome, as long as the correct remedies are identified and are applied.
It is in this context that the PSC convened a Retreat that was dedicated to the theme: Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020, from 7 to 9 November 2016, in Lusaka, Zambia. The Retreat regrouped the PSC Member States, representatives of Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC), the AU Commission, Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (RECs/RMs), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) and the Regional Centre on Small Arms (RECSA). This was all the more urgent given the central thrust of Agenda 2063 and the overall AU Vision of building a peaceful, stable, secure, integrated and prosperous Africa, and the essence of Agenda 2030 on sustainable development goals.
Notably, the 4th aspiration of Agenda 2063, which is the African Union’s strategic framework for socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next five decades, highlights the need for dialogue-centered conflict prevention, as well as the management and resolution of existing conflicts, with a view to silencing the guns in our Continent by the Year 2020.
Agenda 2063 provides that in order to achieve sustainable conflict prevention and resolution, a culture of peace and tolerance must be cultivated and nurtured in our children and youth, among others, through peace education. Furthermore, in its First Ten Years Implementation Plan, Agenda 2063 stresses the imperative of ending all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence and violent conflicts and prevent genocide, as part of Africa’s collective efforts to silence the guns in the continent by the year 2020.
In organizing this timely Retreat, the PSC was inspired and guided by the clarion call in the OAU/AU 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration adopted by the AU Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa on 25 May 2013, in which they, among others aspects, expressed their “…determination to achieve the goal of a conflict-free Africa, to make peace a reality for all our people and to rid the continent of wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters and violent conflicts, and to prevent genocide. We pledge not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans and undertake to end all wars in Africa by 2020. In this regard, we undertake to:
(i) Address the root causes of conflicts including economic and social disparities; put an end to impunity by strengthening national and continental judicial institutions, and ensure accountability in line with our collective responsibility to the principle of non-indifference;
(ii) Eradicate recurrent and address emerging sources of conflict including piracy, trafficking in narcotics and humans, all forms of extremism, armed rebellions, terrorism, transnational organized crime and new crimes such as cybercrime;
(iii) Push forward the agenda of conflict prevention, peace-making, peace support, national reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction and development through the African Peace and Security Architecture; as well as, ensure enforcement of and compliance with peace agreements and build Africa’s peace-keeping and enforcement capacities through the African Standby Force;
(iv) Maintain a nuclear-free Africa and call for global nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy;
(v) Ensure the effective implementation of agreements on landmines and the non-proliferation of small arms and light weapons;
(vi) Address the plight of internally displaced persons and refugees and eliminate the root causes of this phenomenon by fully implementing continental and universal frameworks.”
Excellencies and Distinguished Representatives
In conceiving practical steps to silence the Guns in Africa by year 2020, the PSC took into consideration the political history of the African continent, which has been marred particularly by three major tragedies, namely, slavery, colonization and the unpaid for extraction/exploitation of natural resources, which have created a huge burden for Africa and its people. The end of slavery at the end of the 19th century and the fall of colonialism under the weight of protracted nationalist and liberation struggles across the continent ushered in a new era in Africa. However, the new era is faced with a myriad of challenges that the continent has not yet been able to successfully overcome.
The cycle of violent conflicts and disruptive crises persist on the continent, so do situations of relapses back into the cycle of violence and destruction for some countries that were perceived to have already emerged from conflicts. It is therefore critically important for Africa and its people to put in place strategic guidelines for addressing these challenges.
In some instances, the African continent has also not been able to foster and manage effective political transitions, partly due to the fact that the erstwhile liberation movements have taken for too long to transform themselves into dynamic governing political parties, which could more successfully adapt to operating in pluralistic democratic societies as agents of political discourse and crucial facilitators rather than act as stumbling blocs to any democratic dispensation. Similarly, failures to transform some of the military wings of some of the liberation movements into professional and disciplined national armies, which pledge loyalty to civilian government regardless of the political party in power, has brought problems to some parts of Africa. All of these facts have stifled serious attempts to silence the guns in Africa.
Yet, peace, security and socio-economic development should be pursued simultaneously. Equally challenging is the task of sustaining transitions from war to peace and to prevent relapses. This is why the AU PSC developed a Master Roadmap of realistic, practical, time-bound implementable steps to silence the guns in Africa by 2020. The master Roadmap is premised on the principle that Africa should take, assume total responsibility for its destiny.
Assuming such responsibility should also take into account the fact that, while appropriate decisions and programmes have been adopted with a view to resolving some of the challenges Africa is faced with, there has been encroachment on some of those decisions by the implementation deficit. This implementation deficit tends to cut across various sectors of action by the AU, thereby undermining efforts towards realization of the AU Vision and transformative programmes.
Following informed presentations, extensive deliberations and convinced that the conditions for silencing the guns now exist in the continent, the Lusaka Retreat developed a Master Roadmap comprising of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020.
Excellencies and Distinguished Representatives
I know we have just received the official translated versions of the Lusaka Roadmap, to do justice to our deliberations I propose that today we just do a preliminary discussion of the Roadmap and allow all of us take time to study the Roadmap and dedicate another session for full deliberations. Probably, as we agreed in Lusaka, that the Roadmap needs contribution from the sister organs, we can use this opportunity to allow our Secretariat to circulate the Roadmap to the sister Organs, and give them a deadline to submit their inputs.
I therefore call this 643rd Meeting of the Peace and Security Council to order.