The U.N. Security Council welcomed Africa’s campaign for “Silencing the Guns” on the continent by 2020 and called Wednesday for international support to achieve peace in every country.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the council “expresses support for initiatives aimed at finding African solutions to African problems” while recognizing that other countries can help accelerate progress.
The council noted efforts by the African Union and regional groups to create a conflict-free continent, but it also expressed concern “over the challenging security situation in parts of Africa.” It pointed to threats posed by terrorism, maritime piracy, tensions between farmers and herders, transnational organized crime, and “the persistent violence perpetrated by insurgents, rebel, and armed groups.”
Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union’s high representative for the “Silencing the Guns” campaign, said that “notable progress has been made in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts in Africa.” He cited peace agreements in South Sudan and Central African Republic, elections in Madagascar and Congo, and the renewal of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa.
But Lamamra also told the council that “a number of African countries still remain trapped in a vicious cycle of violent conflict and its deadly consequences.” He didn’t provide any names, but Mali and other countries in the Sahel as well as Congo, Libya, Somalia and Sudan have faced unrest and in some cases attacks by extremists or armed groups.
Lamamra said crime, terrorism and the proliferation of small arms have been exacerbated by “the existence of ungoverned spaces” that leave room for illegal activities. He said persistent corruption, illegal financial flows and the illegal exploitation of natural resources, poor governance and bad leadership are also “a major source of instability and conflict in Africa.”
“These challenges underline the urgent need to build a robust culture of conflict prevention,” Lamamra said.
Rosemary DiCarlo, the U.N. political and peace building chief, agreed that “numerous governance challenges remain, including marginalization of certain groups from political processes, the prevalence of a ‘winner-take-all’ approach, corruption, and the mismanagement of natural resources.”
She added that “silencing the guns for good requires the participation of all,” saying women’s leadership and participation in the political sphere has slowed.
DiCarlo stressed that there is reason for optimism. She recalled that just a few days ago, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed to the recent peaceful elections and peace deals saying “a wind of hope is blowing in Africa.” She noted that “across the continent, entrepreneurship is up, access to education has increased and child mortality has declined.”
Africans are leading the way, DiCarlo said, but to silence the guns “it is vital that the international community lend its support to Africa in achieving this objective.”
Eritrea’s statement at the UNSC on Silencing the Guns in Africa
New York, 27 February 2019
Let me take this opportunity to thank Equatorial Guinea for organizing this open debate themed “Silencing the guns in Africa”, an important and timely topic for our continent. My thanks also go to H.E. Simeon Oyono Esono Angiie, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Equatorial Guinea, for presiding over this session of the Council.
Let me also seize this opportunity to express thanks to the Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo, and the AU High Representative for silencing the guns in Africa, H.E. Mr. Ramtane Lamamra.
My delegation associates itself with the statement made by the Permanent Representative of Benin, H.E. Ambassador Jean-Claude do Rego, on behalf of the African Group.
Africa is endowed with huge human and natural potential that can transform the lives of its citizens and the world at large.
The wave of decolonization in the 20’h Century brought hope for a collective work in the continent to ensure peace, justice and development, as well as safeguarding the independence and interest of African nations.
In these intervening years, conflicts, political instability and undue external influence and interventions undermined national, sub-regional and continental efforts to translate the huge endowment into durable peace, sustained and inclusive development.
In Africa, from the East to the West and in the North, extremism, and terrorism are spreading, taking advantage of state fragility and insecurity. The result is a deteriorating condition for millions of Africans, inter-generational poverty and inequality, migration, environmental degradation and recurrent droughts.
Nothing is more descriptive of the continent’s situation than the fact that over 75% of the Security Council’s agenda is focused on Africa.
Without discounting the complex challenges for causes and dynamics of interstates and intra-state of conflicts, Eritrea is a firm believer in Africa’s potential to silencing the guns and affording its citizens the life that they deserve. It requires political will to reclaim the priorities and the narration of the continent.
The need for the nations of the African Continent to have the political space in charting their own development and political paths is critical. What Africa needs is less external interventions and more partnerships. The region has to strengthen its own mechanisms for prevention, peaceful resolution of conflicts and peace building in order to avoid violent conflicts and prevent post-conflict states from sliding back to conflicts.
Moreover, while the role of the United Nations Security Council in maintenance of peace and security remains critical, the United Nations Security Council needs to revisit its approaches and interventions in Africa. There is a need for a paradigm shift. The same approaches time and again will not help achieve better results.
The Horn of Africa region is one example of a region which experienced decades of human suffering as a result of conflicts, with peace having been elusive for many of its citizens. Yet, in recent months the historic peace deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia has resulted in rapid positive changes marking the dawn of a bright era in peace, partnership and development for the entire region as well as creating opportunities for peace across the region.
The new found peace has so far, resulted in the opening of border, movement of the two peoples, uniting of families, resumption of trade, start of communication links, cultural exchanges and more. An important take away from the new developments in the Horn of Africa is the importance of leadership, political will and ownership of conflicting parties to resolve their conflict by themselves.
The recent peace has also opened doors for the consolidation of peace in the rest of the region. In the tripartite agreement signed between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, the countries agreed to cooperate in advancing the goals of their people, promoting regional peace and security, building close political, economic, social, and cultural and security ties. Moreover, during a separate meeting between the Presidents of Djibouti and Eritrea, they pledged to open a new chapter of cooperation in their relations.
These developments are the result of a courageous choice made to close the era of conflict and zero sum game. The new peaceful dynamics in the Horn of Africa will be a huge boost to the ambitious objectives of silencing the Guns by 2020.
The citizens of the Horn of Africa have embarked on an arduous journey of transforming the region for present and future generations. Determined to get it right this time around and make up for lost decades and missed opportunities for peace and economic progress, there is a sense of great responsibility to ensure what has been achieved so far is inclusive and sustainable.
In conclusion, while we hail the rapid progress in the past few months, we are mindful of the challenges ahead in the creation of durable peace and also sustainable development in the region as envisioned in agenda 2063. We will be counting on your solidarity to sustain the peace while yearning the same for the rest of the African region.
I thank you!