Statement by His Excellency Ambassador Osman Keh Kamara at the African Union Peace and Security Council Open Debate on “Structural Prevention of Conflicts in Africa: Reinvigorating Fragile States” held on Monday 27th October 2014
My delegation congratulates you and the Peace and Security Council for organizing this important debate on the subject of structural prevention of conflicts in Africa. Tackling the root causes of conflict requires a comprehensive approach that focuses on creating a democratic culture, equitable distribution of resources, and more importantly respect for the sovereignty and territorial borders of member states.
Multitude of factors account for the root causes of conflicts in Africa: Conflicts breed where there is poor governance, human rights abuses and grievances over the inequitable distribution of resources, and power. Tensions simmer where people are excluded, marginalized and denied meaningful participation in the political and social life of their countries. Unrest flourishes where people are poor, unemployed and without hope. All these vices characterized fragile states particularly in Africa.
Structural prevention of conflicts must start with the strengthening of democratic governance, the establishment of a robust, resilient, accountable State institutions; ensuring adequate checks and balances, promotion of a credible due process of the law and effective democratic control over the security sector. Good governance can prevent conflict and establish the baseline for durable peace and sustainable socio-economic development.
Additionally, state’s ability to reduce endemic poverty and social vulnerabilities could prevent conflict and promote peace and security. Economic problems in Africa were often traced to the poor management and inequitable sharing of benefits of its rich natural resources. Moreover, the porosity of African borders and in most cases the existence of straddling natural resources in these boundaries often result to conflicts over possible disagreement in the management and optimal exploitation of the straddling resources. National mediation efforts usually result to peace agreements between political elites that address their immediate political problems without dealing with the underlying root causes. Invariably, the peace agreements are not fully implemented, monitored and enforced. The violation of which could result to the resumption of conflicts and possible unconstitutional change of government.
These problems are mostly acute when States are fragile and armed movements operate with impunity across porous borders, often with support from neighbouring States. The arms trade treaty adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations prohibits the illegal transfer of weapons across borders and to non-state actors. Furthermore, the African legal order requires African States to respect the principle of uti possidetis – an important principle according to which African States’ boundaries should follow those inherited at independence etc. International law and practice equally necessitate neighbouring states with straddling natural resources in their borders to embark upon joint exploitation of that resource for the mutual benefits of both countries. Undoubtedly, these legal principles are designed to prevent conflicts and promote peaceful co-existence between states. Perhaps the African Union Border Programme which seeks a complete demarcation throughout the continent if implemented and effectively monitored could also serve as an effective means of preventing border related conflicts in Africa.
Structural prevention of conflict also requires active involvement of regional organizations, community organizations, the private sector, civil society, the African Union Panel of the Wise, women and youth in decision-making. Their activities can help stabilize communities. Structural prevention also demands that we address the culture of impunity surrounding sexual violence. Sexual violence is a menace in society and an assault on the peace and security of entire communities. There is a need for concerted efforts to implement all African Union Assembly decisions and other international instruments and mechanisms against this dehumanizing crime.
This brings me to the dreadful Ebola epidemic in West Africa which I construe as a non-traditional security threat to human existence. Unlike other non-traditional security threats (climate change etc.) for which ample period is required for prevention, mitigation and adaptation; Ebola Virus Disease can extinct humanity within seconds to 21days. It is the apex of all non-traditional security threats to human survival. I will use this medium to propose to our noble Union to adopt a decision for the convening of a global conference to negotiate and adopt a standard framework document for international response to the Ebola Virus Disease and similar future epidemics.
I thank you for your kind attention.