Silencing the guns in Africa

“silencing the guns: Pre-requisites for realising a conflict-free africa by the year 2020” 

Intervention of Desire Assogbavi, Head of Oxfam Liaison Office with the African Union at the Peace and Security Council of the AU – 24 April 2014 

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Excellencies, Distinguish Guests

Allow me on behalf of Oxfam to thank the PSC and the Nigerian presidency, for the choice of this important topic and for inviting us to this public debate.

As we meet today, our continent is celebrated for its increasing economic growth of an average of 5% over the last 10 years.  However, it is also saddening that an important part of our continent is still enduring continued conflicts, insecurity and violence. Despite efforts towards conflict resolution in Africa over the last decade, new and old conflicts continue to delay our development…. Causes and actors are diverse. Their names are Al Shabaab, LRA, Boko haram, Janjaweed, anti-Balaka, Seleka…. But also some government actors, visible and invisible.

The sources of  conflicts in Africa are many. However, inequitable distribution of power and wealth, unfair and unaccountable governance added to illicit flow of arms, have fuelled majority of conflicts and armed violence in our continent, claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and causing us the lost of 18 billion USD per year.  Therefore our actions must be equally multidimensional.

 To achieve the ambitious target of an Africa free of conflicts in 2020, a number of urgent issues need to be addressed… Because of time, I will only mention 3 of them:

1.Early and Courageous Response to early warnings – Existing frameworks such as the continental early warning system and the African Peer Review Mechanism have always detected potential conflicts ahead of time. However, in most of the cases, the warnings have been minimized or simply ignored… Who did not know a year ago that South Sudan was likely to burn? Was the Central Africa Republic conflict a surprise?  —- Our decision making bodies at the highest level must detach from the current polite diplomacy to take courageous actions…. when democratic principles and HR are being violated…. when important AU principles such as unconstitutional change of government are violated, when elections do not reflect the true will of citizens.

 

2. Addressing the challenges of illicit trade of Arms – most of the arms used in our conflicts are fabricated outside of our continent. A commentator noted recently that, bananas, tomatoes and bubble gum are more restricted in markets than the trade of AK-47. The AU should aim for a universal ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty,   and for its robust implementation, through regional cooperation. The ATT is expected to come into force in September this year.  So far 27 African nations have signed the Treaty but only Mali and Nigeria have ratifie We recommend that your Council call for a mass and immediate ratification of the ATT by all member states as a sign of good will.

3. Strengthen the role of the Panel of the Wise – Identifying eminent personalities, with necessary experience, intellectual and physical ability to engage in ‘good office’ and shuttle diplomacy.  The AU PoW should be established in a way that its members serve as a standby poll of Envoys for the AUC Chairperson and PSC whenever mediation is needed

I thank you!

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