Thank you for the opportunity to address the Council on this important initiative: Silencing the Guns in Africa. I would like to commend the Equatorial Guinean Presidency for organizing this debate.
Silencing the Guns is an initiative to promote prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa. It is important, not only for what it aims to do, but also for what it says about the importance of African leadership and partnership with the global community.
It was the African Union that pledged in 2013 “not to bequeath the burden of conflict to the next generation of Africans and undertake to end all wars by 2020”.
The AU’s Peace and Security Council then took the lead and developed a “Master Roadmap of practical steps to Silencing the Guns by 2020”, endorsed by the AU Assembly in January 2017.
H.E. Mr. Ramtane Lamamra, AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa, whom we have the honor to welcome here today, has worked closely with the United Nations to help accelerate the implementation of the initiative.
And this cooperation is wide-ranging. Indeed, the UN-AU strategic partnership has become a cornerstone of the UN’s peace and security initiatives in Africa.
The UN and the AU share a common mission – to prevent conflict. Thus, Silencing the Guns also means keeping them from firing in the first place. In the last two years, we each have strengthened our joint ability to detect and defuse crises before they escalate, as well as our cooperation to help resolve them.
Our partnership with the AU involves concrete action. In January 2018, among other initiatives, the United Nations kicked off a two-year project to support policy dialogue and technical assistance on conflict prevention and mediation in Africa.
The African Union and the United Nations partnership is bearing fruit in different countries of the continent.
In the Central African Republic, the AU, with United Nations support, shepherded the recent signing of the peace agreement.
In South Sudan, the signing of the revitalized peace accord facilitated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) with the support of the AU and the UN has sparked renewed hope, even as more needs to be done to definitively silence the guns and end abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence in South Sudan.
In Somalia, the UN and AU continue to work together in support of Somalia’s state-building agenda, the fight against violent extremism and the efforts to restore peace and stability in the country.
And the United Nations continues to work closely with the African Union and other partners to ensure the peaceful conduct of elections on the continent.
In Madagascar, the United Nations and Southern African Development Community (SADC) actively supported the good offices efforts led by the AU and Mr. Lamamra, during the 2018 presidential election. These efforts contributed to a peaceful process.
The United Nations has also increased its support to efforts to counter-terrorism and prevent violent extremism in Africa. In June 2018, the UN signed with the AU a Memorandum of Understanding in this area to increase its cooperation and capacity-building support to the AU and several sub-regional organizations as well as to Member States.
Silencing the guns for good requires the participation of all. As we assess efforts to increase women’s leadership and meaningful participation in political processes, we see that progress has slowed, despite the combined work of the UN, the AU and civil society. We must redouble our efforts in this critical pursuit.
Building resilient societies is also key for silencing the guns. This implies strong institutions that respond to the needs of citizens, good governance and inclusive politics.
In recent years, the continent has made great strides in deepening democracy and democratic institutions, including through the implementation of the African Governance Architecture.
However, numerous governance challenges remain, including the marginalisation of certain groups from political processes, the prevalence of a ‘winner-takes-all’ approach, corruption, and the mismanagement of natural resources.
The UN continues to work with the AU and the Regional Economic Communities in helping to build strong national institutions and addressing the root causes of armed conflict, including through support to democratic consolidation, upholding human rights, ending marginalization and promoting inclusive socio-economic development, in line with the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
As the Secretary-General stated that, with the recent peaceful elections and truces, “a wind of hope is blowing in Africa”. Along with political progress, we are witnessing that across the continent, entrepreneurship is up, access to education has increased and child mortality has declined. One year ago, Africa’s leaders launched the African Continental Free Trade Area. These and other positive developments are clear evidence that it is Africans, in partnership with the global community, who are leading the way to sustainable peace and prosperity in the continent.
In “silencing the guns” African countries have a central role to play in making the initiative a success, as do the African Union and Africa’s private sector and civil society.
But it is vital that the international community lend its support to Africa in achieving this objective. Let this debate today galvanize global support for these efforts.
Thank you, Mr. President.