Root Causes of Conflicts in Africa Must Be Addressed beyond Traditional Response, Special Adviser Tells Security Council Debate on Silencing Guns
Speakers Highlight Link between Durable Peace, Inclusive Development Policies
Highlighting the links between durable peace, inclusive development, security and stability in the African continent, speakers in the Security Council today emphasized the need for greater international cooperation and support for “African solutions to African problems”, during a debate on the impact of development policies in implementing the African Union’s “Silencing the Guns” initiative, one of the signature events of Mozambique’s presidency.
Cristina Duarte, Special Adviser on Africa to the United Nations Secretary-General, said that, unfortunately, the African perspective has been insufficiently incorporated in global discussions on peace and security on the continent. She emphasized the importance of addressing the internal and external root causes of conflicts in Africa beyond the traditional response, which only tackled their symptoms, adding that only development would create the capacities that help African countries overcome the peace and security challenges they face, which have deep historical roots.
She went on to highlight the impact of colonialism on the continent’s current governance shortcomings, noting that it led to the formation of three geographies: the administrative territory of a country, determined by its borders; one reflecting pre-existing sociocultural groups, which transcends the boundaries of one country; and another reflecting the actual presence of the State, which tended to be concentrated in a few urban centres. On transboundary movements, which are perceived as threats and often spark ineffective attempts to close borders, she said: “You cannot contain a historical reality that goes beyond the borders.” Instead, integration needs to be accelerated, through the African Continental Free Trade Area, among other measures.
On the absence of the State from a service-provision perspective, which creates fertile ground for terrorism and the emergence of non-State actors, as is the case in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, she called for military solutions to be complemented by active development policies that help ensure an effective provision of public services across the territory. On that point, she spotlighted Mozambique’s Maputo Accord for Peace and National Reconciliation, which combined demilitarization and reintegration with decentralization and devolution. This policy works, from a peace and security perspective, to fight exclusion and promote reconciliation, and it is also an effective way to promote income distribution, from a macroeconomic perspective, she added.
The success of the Maputo Accord and all that contributed to it was further detailed by Mirko Manzoni, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Mozambique, who said that its signing and implementation had generated hope. Outlining reasons for the Accord’s success, namely establishing national ownership from the outset, building trust, remaining flexible and ensuring a human-centred process throughout, he said that while other attempts at peace had failed, what worked for Mozambique this time was championing national solutions to national problems — through listening and creating a culture of dialogue between the Government and RENAMO/Mozambique National Resistance. “Putting people first pays off in peace dividends,” he said.
As a key element of the peace initiative, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process has seen more than 4,800 beneficiaries settle in communities of their choice to begin their reintegration journey, he continued, pointing out that such programmes should take a longer-term view, rather than being seen as a technical and time-limited process. The Mozambican process tackles long-standing issues such as pensions for the demobilized and introduces innovative strategies to spur the involvement of a broad range of actors, including the private sector, to embed the long-term sustainability of peace.
Also briefing the Council was Mohamed Ibn Chambas, African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns, who said that today’s debate comes at a moment when Africa is faced with multiple challenges, due to the continent’s vulnerability to global economic shocks, among other factors, all of which were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, which pushed an estimated 55 million Africans into poverty in 2020 and reversed more than two decades of progress in poverty reduction on the continent. Equally alarming is the fact that 15 African States are reportedly at the risk of debt distress, he added.
Against that backdrop, he underscored that Africa must embark on a people-centred recovery and transformation, prioritizing investment in areas such as education and science; technology and innovation; health; decent employment opportunities; and gender equality and youth empowerment. Noting that abundant financial resources are required for such transformation, he called for the mobilization of domestic resources with a particular emphasis on fighting illicit financial flows, which deprive Africa of approximately $90 billion annually. Outlining other recommendations, he underlined the importance of developing sustainable industrialization to leverage Africa’s agricultural and natural-resource potential, creating a “Made in Africa” standard and promoting the African Continental Free Trade Area.
In the ensuing debate, Council members and other States’ representatives emphasized the need for African solutions to African problems and for policies to promote social stability through investments in human capital, promoting the participation of women and youth. Several speakers noted that illicit financial flows fanned the flames of conflict, pointing out that curbing them could contribute to silencing the guns. Views differed, however, on the use of arms embargos, with some calling for their implementation to be tightened, and others calling for them to be loosened or lifted to enhance countries’ security capacity.
Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, President of Mozambique, Council President for March and speaking in his national capacity, described the innovative approach that paved the way to the Peace and National Reconciliation Agreement in August 2019, also known as the Maputo Agreement. This approach encouraged tolerance and prioritized dialogue, he said, recalling his direct conversations with [opposition leader Afonso] Dhlakama and highlighting the critical importance of formal and informal communication. In addition, before signing the Maputo Agreement in 2019, he maintained regular contact with the opposition, including visits to meet its leaders, previously armed, at their bases in Mount Gorongosa. No “Silencing the Guns” can be complete if violent extremism prevails in Africa, he said, also underlining the need to include women and youth in peace processes and to ensure social stability through the creation of opportunities for the development of human capital.
In a similar vein, the representative of Ghana also emphasized the need for development policies that support African efforts to address the root causes of conflict, including the socioeconomic inequalities that have destabilized several countries. While emphasizing that “the Africa we know is a continent of promise”, he pointed out that such promise has been “shackled” by competing international interests, well-intended-but-harmful global policies, disjointed actions and diminished national capacities. “It cannot rightly be said” that Africa has equitably benefited from participating in the international system when 33 of the continent’s 54 States are classified as least developed countries,” he said, calling for international support and cooperation to support the continent’s development agenda.
The representative of China was among several speakers who emphasized the need for the international community to adhere to the principle of seeking African solutions for African problems, rather than interfering in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. For post conflict countries, the Council should support their choice of governance models, he said. Enhancing Africa’s security is the only way to address both the symptoms and root causes of conflict, he said, stressing that the Council’s arms embargoes on Sudan, South Sudan and others have hindered the development of security capacity in those countries and should therefore be adjusted or lifted.
Portugal’s delegate also noted that his country’s long-standing approach has always been “to engage ‘with’ Africa, not to develop policies ‘on’ Africa”. To that end, Portugal recently approved its development cooperation strategy for 2030, which will pay special attention to countries in fragile situations. Underlining the need for more than purely military solutions, he urged work to be done to achieve sustainable, inclusive development and, in the short-term, ensure humanitarian aid for those in need.
Costa Rica’s representative was among several who highlighted the need to tackle the scourge of small arms and light weapons, stressing: “To silence the guns, we need to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms through the effective implementation of international and regional arms control instruments.” Pointing out that the average age of an African citizen is below 20 years old, she underscored the need for Governments, international and regional organizations, civil society groups, and traditional and religious leaders to engage with young people in decision-making processes and to promote behavioural change.
Echoing such points, Mexico’s delegate called for greater commitment to regulate the trafficking in small arms and light weapons, voicing regret that Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean bear the brunt of deaths as a consequence of the spread of such arms, despite the fact that their manufacturers are not located in those regions and seem unprepared to shoulder their responsibilities. The Council can play a role in this regard, he said, highlighting resolution 2220 (2015) and resolution 2616 (2021), the latter put forth by his country. Such arms are tools to maintain conflict, he said, pointing out that the consequences of their unchecked spread can be witnessed in Haiti.
Also speaking today were ministers, senior officials and representatives of Brazil, United States, United Arab Emirates, Gabon, Russian Federation, Japan, Malta, Ecuador, United Kingdom, Ghana, France, Albania, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Germany, Liechtenstein, Philippines, Thailand, Poland, Egypt, Morocco, Italy, Republic of Korea, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Namibia, Qatar, Denmark, Sierra Leone, Greece, Rwanda, Ireland, Romania, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ukraine, India, Spain, Indonesia, Argentina and South Africa, as well as the European Union and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m., suspended at 1:05 p.m., resumed at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 5:45 p.m.
CRISTINA DUARTE, Special Adviser on Africa to the United Nations Secretary-General, said that four of the five areas identified by the African Union Master Road Map of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020, also known as the “Lusaka Road Map”, refer to issues encompassed by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in Agenda 2063: the Africa We Want Agenda. However, she pointed out that, unfortunately, this African perspective has not been sufficiently incorporated in global discussions on peace and security in the continent. While global discussions have considered the linkages between peace, security and development, they are constrained by the fact that wars create emergency situations and deviate funds that should be used for development and destroyed infrastructure. Development policies play a substantial role in supporting conflict prevention and resolution, she said, citing the Secretary-General, who said: “the flames of conflict are fuelled by inequality, deprivation and underfunded systems”.
Underscoring the need to differentiate between internal factors of conflict, such as terrorism and external competition for natural resources, and external ones, such as citizens’ exclusion from public services, she said both need to be addressed to put an end to conflict. The traditional response to peace and security challenges in Africa has not been to address the internal and external root causes of conflicts, but just their symptoms, she said, emphasizing that only development will create the capacities that will allow African countries to tackle both the internal and external causes of conflict.
Turning to the “political history” of the continent, she noted that most external and internal factors have roots going back in history, pointing out that while colonialism has been blamed for the economic exploitation of the African continent, its impact on the current governance shortcomings has seldom been discussed. Citing the 2022 report of the Secretary-General on the promotion of sustainable development and durable peace, which highlights that when African countries achieved independence, they inherited governance structures that were not designed to run successful independent States, she noted that, from an economic perspective, colonial administrations did not focus on promoting economic development, but rather on resource extraction and tax collection. On the point of rule of law, they focussed on exercising authority and controlling strategic sites either for their location or their economic value, she said, adding that, as a result, African countries had inherited three geographies conditioning the relation between a country’s Government, their territory and their people: the administrative territory of a country, determined by its borders; one reflecting pre-existing sociocultural groups, which transcends the boundaries of one country; and another reflecting the actual presence of the State, which tend to be concentrated in a few urban centres.
On the second geography, she pointed out that from a peace and security perspective, transboundary movements are often perceived as a risk, leading to a tendency to close the borders to attempt to control them, even though it proved ineffective: “You cannot contain a historical reality that goes beyond the borders.” Therefore, instead of responding to potential transboundary threats by closing borders, integration needs to be accelerated, through the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Regional Economic Communities and the different instruments in the African Union architecture. Turning to the issue of the absence of the State from a service-provision perspective, which breaks the bonds of trust with the population and creates fertile ground for terrorism and the emergence of non-State actors, as is the case in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, she said that military solutions must be complemented by active development policies that help ensure an effective provision of public services across the territory. To this end, she spotlighted Mozambique’s Maputo Accord for Peace and National Reconciliation, which combined demilitarization and reintegration with decentralization and devolution. This policy works, from a peace and security perspective, to fight exclusion and promote reconciliation, and it is also an effective way to promote income distribution, from a macroeconomic perspective, she added. Such an approach contributes to achieving socioeconomic resilience, which is necessary to deliver peace and to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and avoid a scenario in which African countries are pushed off-track, she said.
MOHAMED IBN CHAMBAS, African Union High Representative for the “Silencing the Guns” initiative, recalled that, when Heads of State and Governments of African Union member States adopted the initiative, the objective was to work for an Africa at peace with itself and with the rest of the world. He also pointed out that the Council — consistent with the strategic partnership between the African Union and the United Nations — rallied behind the initiative by adopting resolution 2457 (2019).
Noting that today’s debate comes at a moment when Africa is faced with multiple challenges, he cited, among others, the continent’s vulnerability to global economic shocks and a widening gap between rich nations and poorer nations, as well as between elites and marginalized communities. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed an estimated 55 million Africans into poverty in 2020, reversing more than two decades of progress in poverty reduction on the continent. Equally alarming is the fact that 15 African States are reportedly at the risk of debt distress, he added.
Against that backdrop, he underscored that Africa must embark on a people-centred recovery and transformation. To do so, the continent must prioritize investment in a number of areas, including education and science; technology and innovation; health; decent employment opportunities; and gender equality and youth empowerment. Necessary for such transformation, however, are abundant financial resources. On that point, he called for the mobilization of domestic resources with a particular emphasis on fighting illicit financial flows, which deprive Africa of approximately $90 billion annually.
He also said that digital technologies could facilitate rapid, inclusive economic growth, innovation, job creation and access to services, spotlighting the mobile-money revolution in Africa as one example. Moreso, it is “untenable” that a continent with 60 per cent of the world’s remaining arable land should be dependent on external sources for grain, he said, calling for the development of “agro-packs” aimed at making Africa food secure and, later, a net food exporter.
Outlining other recommendations, he highlighted the importance of developing sustainable industrialization to leverage Africa’s agricultural and natural-resource potential, creating a “Made in Africa” standard and promoting the African Continental Free Trade Area. On that, he said that the mechanism aims to shift Africa from a producer and exporter of raw materials to an exporter of manufactured and agro-processed goods and services. To do this, he called for investment in national and cross-border infrastructure to facilitate the free movement of persons, goods and services.
He went on to say that, while Africa will play its part in the green transition despite contributing the least to global warming, climate financing, carbon-credit trading and other relevant mechanisms must be made a reality through simplified, flexible and quick disbursement methods. Also underlining the need to address terrorism, conflict and instability — along with the re-emergence of coups d’état — in Africa, he emphasized that the support of bilateral and multilateral partners will “go a long way” in helping to “Silence the Guns” by 2030 and help realize a peaceful, secure, democratic and prosperous Africa by 2063.
MIRKO MANZONI, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Mozambique, said that the signing and implementation of the Maputo Accord has generated hope. He outlined four reasons for the Accord’s success: establishing national ownership from the outset, building trust, remaining flexible and ensuring a human-centred process throughout. Turning first to national ownership, he said that local and national actors have the best understanding of the nuances of a conflict and so they must lead, and own, their peace processes. The Government of Mozambique and RENAMO retained ownership in the establishment of the national peace architecture from the beginning. Both parties gained trust from their commitment and respect for each other. While other attempts at peace had failed, this time Mozambique put national efforts at its core. And it is working, he said. The Government has championed national solutions to national problems — through listening and creating a culture of dialogue between the Government and RENAMO. He also emphasized the importance of mainstreaming women’s participation in the negotiations and implementation structures.
On fostering trust between different parties, he noted that one early indication of this was the fact that just one month after talks resumed between Mozambique President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi and then RENAMO leader Afonso Dhlakama, a ceasefire was announced. Trust between the parties was further fostered by the implementation of additional agreements while negotiations were ongoing. The Constitutional Agreement on decentralization and the memorandum of understanding on military affairs were both signed before the peace agreement. Underscoring the critical role of flexibility in peace processes, he recalled how activities were halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, within one month, President Nyusi and the leader of RENAMO held extensive consultations, ultimately facilitating the safe resumption of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process activities in June 2020.
“Putting people first pays off in peace dividends,” he said. As a key element of the peace initiative, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process has seen more than 4,800 beneficiaries settle in communities of their choice to begin their reintegration journey. disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes must further take a longer-term view, rather than being seen as a technical and time-limited process. The Mozambican process tackles long-standing issues such as pensions for the demobilized and introduces innovative strategies to spur the involvement of a broad range of actors, including the private sector, to embed the long-term sustainability of peace. He said that by tapping into the enormous potential offered by regional organizations, Mozambique has built a framework for concerted action, where coordination among actors has been essential. “Let me stress that the success of a peace process should not be measured by the difficulties it encounters; rather, it should be judged on the basis of how those involved choose to overcome such difficulties,” he also added.
FILIPE JACINTO NYUSI, President of Mozambique, Council President for March and speaking in his national capacity, stressed that to have a continent in peace, “it is necessary that African leaders believe that a continent with silenced guns is possible”. Thus, they must not only secure the requisite resources at their disposal to fast-track “Silencing the Guns” once and for all, but also resolve the causes that fuel conflicts in the continent’s development process. Moreover, he underlined the need to stop heeding to agendas of those who implement programmes for plundering Africa’s resources. His country’s independence in 1975 was possible only after a 10-year armed struggle. “Silencing the Guns” resulted from the negotiations that culminated in the Lusaka agreements in 1974 between the Liberation Front of Mozambique and the Portuguese colonial state, after the fascist colonial rule had refused to engage in dialogue. One year after the proclamation of independence — in 1976 — Mozambique sustained a devastating war of aggression waged by the racist regimes of Rhodesia and the apartheid, which lasted 16 years. Citing the issue of peacekeeping and national reconciliation as the main priority, he drew attention to the consensus that led to the Peace and National Reconciliation Agreement in August 2019, also known as the Maputo Agreement. The Agreement’s military component entailed disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he noted, highlighting its direct relationship with “Silencing the Guns”.
Nevertheless, he emphasized that “Silencing the Guns” requires a long-term vision in the development of the country, which entails promoting social justice in a sustainable way. The ongoing peace process and the implementation of the Reconciliation Agreement are unique, based on an innovative approach that encourages tolerance, emphasizes the importance of national ownership and prioritizes dialogue. He recalled his direct conversations with [opposition leader Afonso] Dhlakama and highlighted the critical importance of formal and informal communication. In addition, before signing the Maputo Agreement in 2019, he maintained regular contact with the opposition, including visits to meet its leaders, previously armed, at their bases in Mount Gorongosa. He underscored that no “Silencing the Guns” can be complete if violent extremism prevails in Africa. Emphasizing the necessity to include women and youth in peace processes, he also underlined the need to ensure social stability through the creation of opportunities for the development of human capital. With this, his Government intends to consolidate the culture of peace, where differences are resolved by dialogue and not by force of arms, he stated.
CARLOS MARCIO COZENDEY, Secretary of State for Multilateral Political Affairs of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil, recalled that when the Council last convened to discuss the “Silencing the Guns" initiative, a little over two years ago, the atmosphere was cautiously optimistic. Today “the outlook before our eyes is more sombre”, he said, pointing to a number of conflicts, ruptures of constitutional order and the advance of militant groups in parts of Africa. Welcoming the continued commitment of the African Union to "Silencing the Guns", he added that the continent’s countries have not only shown resolve to promote political and diplomatic solutions, but they have also joined forces to provide appropriate responses on the ground. Highlighting the Multinational Joint Task Force that tackles terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin as well as the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) Joint Task force as important examples of this, he said that adequate assistance from the international community is indispensable for their success. Noting that official development assistance (ODA) is essentially a temporary solution, he underscored that what developing countries, and those in Africa in particular, need is a global economic, financial and trade architecture that allows them to fulfil their potential.
UZRA ZEYA, Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights of the United States, underlined the need to depart from “status quo solutions” to prevent conflict in Africa. Left unchecked, corruption can impede economic progress, mismanagement can squander natural resources and food insecurity can heighten famine risk. In addition, repression can stifle human rights and impede the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms. Such concerns are especially pressing in the Sahel and Horn of Africa, she said, calling for a comprehensive approach. She spotlighted her country’s new strategy to prevent conflict and promote stability in coastal West Africa, noting that on a recent visit to Ghana, Vice President Kamala Harris expressed her country’s commitment to invest in economic creativity, announcing a $1 billion investment for the economic empowerment of women in Africa. However, economic development alone is not “a master key for peace and security”, she said, stressing the need for robust democracy grounded in the rule of law. In that regard, she drew attention to the seven undemocratic changes of power over the past two years in West and Central Africa. Underscoring the need to build inclusive resilience, she also said that her country’s 10-year strategy includes diverse perspectives in decision-making, as well as local voices and local-led solutions.
SHAKHBOOT NAHYAN AL NAHYAN, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates, observing that “the idea that turmoil in one region of the world will not spread to another is an illusion”, underlined the collective interest in a successful Silencing the Guns initiative. To this end, he urged that Africa’s toolkit of conflict-resolution and peacebuilding practices be fully leveraged. While each conflict is unique, the Council should encourage African mediation efforts and leverage them whenever possible. He also said that the Silencing the Guns initiative is about more than conflict resolution, as it demands focus on root causes, determination to fight extreme ideologies and continued consolidation of development gains. On that, he said that the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 are guiding frameworks that can inform and complement national priorities. Additionally, he urged those present to stay ahead of emerging, complex threats, observing that such threats demand equally complex responses — ones that necessitate a level of investment often far beyond available means. “We cannot expect peace if we don’t invest in it,” he stressed, adding that supporting these efforts is “more cost-effective than paying the price for instability and conflict”.
LIU YUXI, China’s Special Representative for African Affairs, called on the Council to give serious thought to strengthening international coordination to better help Africa meet its many challenges. The international community must adhere to the principle of seeking African solutions for African problems rather than interfering in other countries’ internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. For post conflict countries, the Council should support their choice of governance models, he said. Enhancing Africa’s security is the only way to address both the symptoms and root causes of conflict. The Council’s arms embargoes on Sudan, South Sudan and others have hindered the development of security capacity in those countries and should therefore be adjusted or lifted, he stressed. Moreover, the international community needs to strengthen coordination with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and help the continent accelerate its implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Developed countries must honour their aid commitments to the continent, he stressed, outlining several China-Africa initiatives aimed at advancing the continent’s development.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) recalled that when the African Union launched the “Silencing the Guns” initiative, the continent was beset by major crises, including in the Sahel, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. Ten years after the launch of the initiative — which adds to the African peace and security architecture — the Union plays a crucial role in crisis prevention and resolution in the continent. The Union demonstrates great courage in terms of bringing African perspectives on peace and security to the table, he said, highlighting its pivotal role in the peace agreement in Sudan, the crisis in Ethiopia, restoring the State’s authority in Somalia and the reconciliation process in Libya. Despite this progress, crises and conflicts persist in Africa, affecting the daily lives of its people, he said, expressing concern over violent extremism, terrorism and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Noting that the majority of these crises are the result of poverty, inequality and social exclusion, he pointed out that they are fuelled by the pillaging of natural resources. The security and development nexus — two pillars of conflict prevention and resolution — must be taken into account when implementing the “Silencing the Guns” initiative, as an “absence of development fuels a cycle of violence”, he stressed.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), noting that the causes of many current conflicts in Africa are linked to colonialism, slavery and the plundering of natural resources, said direct oppression has now been replaced by subtle forms of neo-colonialism. While there is a connection between peacekeeping and sustainable development, peace alone does not guarantee development, he stressed. Expressing concern about the arbitrary linking of development and security topics, he said this has diverted resources from promoting development. Many African countries need support through the transfer of technology and expertise and infrastructure reconstruction, he said, pointing out that many developed countries have still not fulfilled the commitments they made half a century ago to bring ODA to 0.7 per cent. Further, it is unacceptable for donors to make aid conditional on political demands. African countries have been actively participating in finding regional solutions, he noted, welcoming the growing role of the African Union and subregional organizations. Recalling the Soviet Union’s assistance to the anti-colonial struggles of African peoples as well as the industrial development of that continent, he said his country continues to promote peace and security in Africa through capacity-building and transfer of technology. The Russian Federation also provides assistance to African countries through the United Nations development system and has provided more than $20 billion in debt relief to the States of the continent, he said.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), stressing that addressing the root causes of conflict and terrorism is indispensable for regional stability, noted that the vulnerability of State and local institutions is one of the fundamental causes of conflicts and terrorism. Preventing the creation of an environment where young people are attracted to extremism is necessary. Also calling for approaches at subregional, national, local, and community levels as well as a human security approach, he said that strengthening the self-reliance and resilience of communities is one of the best ways to address root causes. Highlighting community-oriented policing models, he noted the recent conference in Tunis, organized by his country and its partners, which focused on sharing good examples of this among security sector officials from 17 African countries. He also underscored the critical importance of African ownership, supported by international partnerships. Japan supports the continent’s own conflict prevention and peacekeeping efforts through capacity-building as well as by contributing to the African Union Peace Fund, he added.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) said that there can be no sustainable development without peace, and no peace without sustainable development. Africa is a young continent. As actors of change, young women and men’s contributions to decision-making and peace processes must be supported. She added that gender equality and women’s empowerment lie central to sustainable peace, especially in conflict and post-conflict situations. Religious and traditional leaders in Africa continue to play important roles in promoting women’s leadership in their communities. Development policies must be designed to promote a grassroots-based approach when addressing the root causes of conflict. Climate, conflict and conflict-induced food insecurity have left several African countries more vulnerable and less resilient to meet current and future shocks. Early warning systems, mediation, conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation are critical tools for long-lasting results, she added.
ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador), commending the “Silence the Guns” initiative, emphasized that for lasting peace, factors such as the trafficking in small arms and light weapons must be addressed. To this end, he underlined the importance of the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), within the framework of its Global Firearms Programme, and the support of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other subregional organizations. Further, peacekeeping operations also play a role in checking the illicit transfer and misuse of such weapons, in line with resolution 2220 (2015). Noting that inequality and exclusion fuel spirals of violence, he underscored the need to fight the scourge of conflict through a focus on border regions, where disinformation is rife and leads to the recruitment of locals by terrorists and extremists with transnational ties. Strategic communication is necessary to tackle those vulnerable areas. Further, the differentiated impacts of arms trafficking on women and girls must be considered, he said, also promoting the role of women and young people in fostering lasting peace and inclusive communities.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom) said that, done well, development is the best form of preventing conflict, which comes with unsustainable human and financial costs. Durable peace, security and development can only be achieved through holistic solutions, which bring together the breadth of the United Nations and African Union development expertise. The United Kingdom is committed to forging mutually beneficial partnerships with African countries to promote economic development, he said, spotlighting, in this context, the United Kingdom African Investment Summit in London in April 2024, to be hosted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. He emphasized the need for increased collaboration in the United Nations on development and peace and security, and for the root causes of conflict to be addressed based on holistic analysis and the use of integrated solutions. Further, there is a need for enhanced partnerships between the Organization, the African Union, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and other regional partners, he said, noting that his country works closely with the African Union on shared priorities such as strengthening health systems and mitigating the impacts of climate change. Further, the United Kingdom supports the African Union’s Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation, which is an important tool to help and manage conflict.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), while emphasizing that “the Africa we know is a continent of promise”, pointed out that such promise has been “shackled” by competing international interests, well-intended-but-harmful global policies, disjointed actions and diminished national capacities. To illustrate, he said that “it cannot rightly be said” that Africa has equitably benefited from participating in the international system when 33 of the continent’s 54 States are classified as least developed countries. To support the “Silencing the Guns” initiative, he stressed the need for development policies that support African efforts to address the root causes of conflict, including the socioeconomic inequalities that have destabilized several countries. Further, Africa’s youth dividends can only be effectively realized if its children and youth are properly educated and mobilized into beneficial innovation and value creation. Also underscoring the importance of prosperity to peace in Africa, he stated that the continent’s development agenda should form the framework around which international support is given to‑ and cooperation is carried out with ‑the continent. This is necessary to avoid disjointed actions and to enable Africa’s own strength to be mobilized for its development, he added.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said that Africa today is facing considerable challenges, including the pressure of climate change, persistence of terrorism and economic and geopolitical upheavals. “These are not challenges only faced by Africa. They’re common challenges,” he emphasized, adding that the only effective responses are global ones that are based on solidarity. “We need to work with African colleagues to take up the challenges,” he said. To combat the pandemic, France backed African scientific excellence by supporting the production of vaccines on the continent, he recalled. France is further committed to continuing to help strengthen international financial infrastructure to combat inequalities and finance the climate transition. Solutions must be designed with all the actors in mind. That includes civil society, entrepreneurs, researchers, athletes and other the cultural leaders. Women and young people must be at the heart of these processes.
ARIAN SPASSE (Albania), voicing concern over the enormous challenges facing the continent, stressed that African leaders must address the illicit flow of weapons and mismanagement of small arms and light weapons. Lack of governance leads to empowerment of terrorist and armed groups, generating more violence and instability, he cautioned, calling on States to increase their presence, including in the cross-border routes of illicit trafficking. He encouraged a whole-of-society approach and a multi-stakeholder network in establishing the rule of law and building trust in institutions in marginalized and conflict-affected areas. Moreover, States should engage meaningfully with traditional and religious leaders, civil society, humanitarian and human rights activists, women and young representatives. He also urged African leaders to strengthen governance and anti-corruption mechanisms, and to cut links with non-State actors and their sponsors, preventing them from accessing weapons and State assets.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland), noting that “weapons still speak too loudly in Africa, but also in other parts of the world”, said that the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition continues to sow violence, threaten peace, tear at the fabric of society and impede development. Stressing that while the supply of weapons must be reduced, the factors that drive demand must also be addressed, he said that the cycle of violence can only be broken if the cycle of impunity is also broken. Integrating armed violence reduction and accountability more systematically into peacebuilding and development efforts is thus critical to achieving sustainable results. Also noting the need to strengthen the capacity of local governments to deliver equitable and sustainable public services, especially in peripheral regions and conflict areas, he said this improves the confidence of the population and helps to restore the presence of the State. Spotlighting the links between climate change and conflict, he said food insecurity and mass displacement can exacerbate conflict. In addition, he stressed that weapons will not be silenced as long as they seem more accessible than a job or vocational training, adding that peace efforts must go hand in hand with efforts to strengthen the rule of law and provide economic opportunities for young people.
AMERY BROWNE, Minister for Foreign and Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, commended the Silencing the Guns in Africa initiative through, inter alia, the strengthening of arms control and disarmament frameworks, noting that the effort is a symbol of the commitment and unity of the African region around the goal of building a conflict-free continent, and as a basis for its prosperity and development. Turning to the need to curb the illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons and ammunition, which is a key strategic objective of CARICOM, he voiced regret that Africa and the Caribbean and Latin American regions pay the greatest human cost of the uncontrolled proliferation of illicit firearms, although they do not manufacture these weapons. To counter this, he outlined measures his Government has undertaken, highlighting a legal challenge brought against private gun manufacturers in the United States, to hold them accountable for their role in facilitating the free flow of illicit arms and ammunition throughout the region. Trinidad and Tobago supports the object and purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty and stresses the need to fully implement other existing international instruments in this area, including the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and the Firearms Protocol.
KATJA KEUL, Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office for Germany, underscored the need to tackle drivers and causes of conflict, violence and fragility in Africa through an integrated approach, linking crisis prevention, stabilization, conflict resolution and peacebuilding with sustainable development efforts under a strong African lead. To this end, she spotlighted the new Africa Strategy presented by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development this January, which focuses on a just social and environmental transformation, job creation for Africa’s youth and gender equality. Turning to the threat posed to peace and security by the illicit transfer, accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, which is a transnational challenge calling for a transnational solution, she voiced support for regional approaches such as ECOWAS’ Plan of Action. Outlining other such initiatives, she noted that, in 2022 alone, Germany devoted more than 10 million euros to projects such as the “Africa Amnesty Month Project”. Germany also supports African Union institutions and regional organizations in implementing the instruments of the African Peace and Security Architecture, she said, noting that her company has contributed over €30 million to this shared objective. Further, she voiced support for the call for the sustainable and predictable funding of African Union-led peace missions.
FRANCISCO ANDRÉ, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal, underlined the need for concerted cooperation to tackle transnational threats, including terrorism, religious extremism, piracy and other forms of organized crime and illicit trafficking. He stressed, however, that purely military solutions will not suffice, urging that work be done to achieve sustainable, inclusive development and, in the short-term, ensure humanitarian aid for those in need. He went on to note that his country’s long-standing approach has always been “to engage ‘with’ Africa, not to develop policies ‘on’ Africa”. To that end, Portugal has recently approved its development cooperation strategy for 2030, which will pay special attention to countries in fragile situations. Detailing areas in which his country is offering support, he added that Portugal’s strategy will have three mutually reinforcing axis: support for Africa’s economic integration through the African Continental Free Trade Area; support for African efforts towards stabilization and the prevention and management of regional crises; and support for the development of strategic corridors and infrastructure to connect African countries.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said that the artificial imposition of borders has left one of colonialism’s most problematic and complex legacies. The policies that led to these borders were driven by geostrategic interests, without an interest in the diverse identities and aspirations of those living within them. The link between diversity and peace is understudied, but a vital one for ensuring sustainable peace. By upholding the human rights of minorities, it is possible both to spur development and prevent conflict. For its part, Liechtenstein has produced a “Handbook on Self-Determination in Conflict Prevention and Resolution”, which sets out a range of practices for States, mediators and others interested in preventing and resolving conflicts relating to self-determination. The Handbook highlights the importance of governance structures that uphold the human rights of minorities and discusses how power can be exercised at the most local level possible.
ANTONIO MANUEL REVILLA LAGDAMEO (Philippines), expressing support for the Silence the Guns initiative for a peaceful, stable and conflict-free Africa, said that addressing conflict is a means to fuel economic transformation, especially after the pandemic. According to the African Development Bank, African economies remain resilient with a stable outlook in 2023-2024, despite the tightening global financial conditions. The challenges for a conflict-free Africa are enormous, he said, commending the African Union’s determination to transform the continent with its visionary Agenda 2063 into a prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena. Normalization is a crucial component of the Agenda 2063 and the Silencing the Guns initiative. In the Philippines, normalization is an important factor for the peace and development process in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao in the southern Philippines. It aims at achieving a smooth transition for Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces members into productive members of society through the provision of socioeconomic development programmes. He underscored his country’s determination to exchange best practices based on its experience, noting that normalization — including decommissioning — contributes to enhancing security and stability in the region by reducing the proliferation of illicit weapons and preventing potential spoilers from undermining the peace process.
SURIYA CHINDAWONGSE (Thailand), noting that the African Union remains a leading example of a regional organization that has successfully promoted regional approaches to addressing peace and security challenges, said the Silencing the Guns initiative is reflective of a common sense but often understated axiom: Africa knows best how to address matters related to itself. Regional ownership is the key to generating a long-term, sustainable solution to regional problems. A good understanding of the nexus of peace, sustainable development and human security is important in overcoming challenges in any region, including in Africa, he said, adding that without progress in the fight against hunger, poverty and disease, there is less chance for the guns to be silent. Addressing the economic, social and political needs of people is key, he said, also stressing the importance of education and skills development, better access to financing and health care, and enhanced participation in decision-making. He also highlighted the contributions of the Thailand International Cooperation Agency as well as Thai peacekeepers at missions such as in South Sudan.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) stressed the need to enhance connectivity and restore trust in multilateralism. It is crucial to invest in quality and resilient infrastructure and to support the capacity-building of developing countries in their efforts to address ongoing challenges, especially in the area of health, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction. There can be no realization of a conflict-free Africa without acknowledging the undeniable link between climate, peace and security. The competition over scarce natural resources is arguably one of the drivers of conflicts, intercommunal violence, and food insecurity. He also touched on the significance of the triple nexus approach — strengthening of interlinkages between the humanitarian-development-peace aspects in building peace and responding to climate-related threats. Without sustainable development there can be no peace, and vice versa, he said, stressing the importance of upholding the rule of law and promoting dialogue between local communities. Strong State institutions, which can provide basic social services, protect national borders, deliver justice and control arms flows, should be seen as a prerequisite for bringing back stability and safeguarding long-term development.
ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico) underscored the negative consequence of trafficking in small arms and light weapons, which is fuelling organized crime and waves of violence around the world, thereby undermining peace and development. He voiced regret that Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean bear the brunt of deaths as a consequence of the spread of such arms, despite the fact that their manufacturers are not located in those regions and seem unprepared to shoulder their responsibilities. Nonetheless, he recognized progress made towards eradicating armed conflict in Africa through the “Silencing the Guns” initiative. He called for greater commitment to regulate weapons and ammunition, through an integrated approach that covers their lifespan. The Council can play a role in this regard, he said, highlighting resolution 2220 (2015) and resolution 2616 (2021), the latter put forth by his country. Such arms are tools to maintain conflict, he said, pointing out that the consequences of their unchecked spread can be witnessed in Haiti. To address this situation, Mexico co-sponsored resolution 2653 (2022) last October, he said, noting that the text emphasized the need for regional land, air, and maritime cooperation to prevent violations of measures imposed by the resolution.
OSAMA MAHMOUD ABDELKHALEK MAHMOUD (Egypt), noting that the Silence the Guns initiative embodies the principle of African solutions for African problems, detailed his country’s support for the initiative over the past decade. Africa faces many multidimensional challenges, as many of the continent’s countries have yet to recover completely from the pandemic; are dealing with the impact of the war in Ukraine on food security; and are being tested by the threats of terrorism, natural-resource trafficking and climate change. Urging enhanced cooperation and coordination between the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, he said that the former could benefit from the latter’s experience and ability to assess the situation on the ground. He also called for stable funding for African Union peacekeeping missions and for the Council to reconsider its working methods relating to African matters — particularly the issue of “penholding”.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that there can be no security without development and no development without security. Morocco has more than a thousand partnership agreements with African countries as part of its South-South cooperation initiative, he pointed out. “We need to address and deal with the profound causes of the conflicts,” he stressed, also adding: “Our action must look at the security, economic climate, religious, cultural, and other dimensions and challenges that are so necessary for security and stability on the African continent.” He also urged the need to prevent and respond to threats in order to increase the chances of silencing the guns in Africa by 2030. Dismantling the recruitment structures as well as the financing indoctrination structures of terrorists is essential. Further, he said that climate change has direct and devastating effects on peace and security, which must be considered in all national, continental and international strategies for the maintenance of peace.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, described the “Silencing the Guns” initiative as extremely relevant as it recognizes that there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. Highlighting the importance of a comprehensive approach that encompasses development cooperation, conflict prevention and peacebuilding, he emphasized that international support should not be limited to addressing ongoing emergencies, but should also tackle root causes of conflict, such as poverty, food insecurity, absence of rule of law and violent extremism. Against this backdrop, he highlighted the essential role played by resilient food systems to combat food insecurity, pointing to the Stocktaking Moment of the Food Systems Summit in Rome next July, hosted by Italy, together with the United Nations. Turning to the evolving threat of terrorism — a major obstacle to the building of a peaceful and prosperous Africa — he noted that Italy, together with Morocco, Niger and the United States, is currently co-chairing the Africa Focus Group of the Anti-Da’esh Coalition, a civilian-focused counter-terrorism effort intended to enhance the capabilities of African members of the Coalition.
KIM SANGJIN (Republic of Korea) said that for Africa to truly achieve the aspiration of Silencing the Guns, simply ending wars or conflict will not be enough. It is more important to consolidate peace and foster sustainable development, he said, adding that there should be more focus on building resilient institutions and strengthening governance. Security sector reform and transitional justice are essential, he said, highlighting the key role of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund. As a longstanding member of the Commission, his country welcomes the increased coordination between it and the Security Council, he said, underscoring the importance of an inclusive approach that ensures the participation of women, youth, other marginalized populations and civil society. Also pointing to the importance of adequate, predictable and sustained financing, he expressed support for the use of assessed contributions to finance the Peacebuilding Fund.
ALEXANDER MARSCHIK (Austria) underscored his country’s cooperation with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to strengthen the prediction, prevention and response to transnational security threats and to increase capacities for preventive diplomacy, mediation and civilian peacebuilding. Austria urges the need to redouble efforts to promote rule of law to foster the cohesion of societies, promote inclusion and democracy, and achieve resilient communities built on trust. As a country committed to disarmament and a champion of responsible trade and export control, Austria also understands Silencing the Guns in a more literal way. Eradicating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, eliminating the unreasonably exorbitant number of such arms and tackling the challenges of ammunition storage and ammunition diversion are key to limiting the spread and use of weapons. He also touched on Austria’s partnership with Senegal focused on improving weapons and ammunition logistics.
BOšTJAN MALOVRH (Slovenia), aligning himself with the European Union, underlined the important role of development policies in building inclusive societies by addressing poverty, inequality and marginalization by promoting economic growth, creating jobs, and improving access to quality education, health care and clean water. Such policies should be inclusive, he said, underlining the need to invest in women and youth empowerment by supporting initiatives that promote education, economic empowerment, and full, equal and meaningful political participation for women and youth. Finally, he stressed the need for development policies to prioritize climate action and promote renewable energy and sustainable land use and natural resource management, noting that climate change has devastating impacts on human security, peace and development in Africa. Slovenia supports sustainable development initiatives in post-conflict and fragile settings, in particular in sustainable water and environmental management, food and water security, and importantly on women and youth empowerment.
OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, noted that sub-Saharan Africa has emerged as the new global epicentre of violent extremist activity, with almost half of all terrorism-related deaths occurring in the region. He therefore underlined the importance of supporting initiatives to prevent radicalization and the spread of violent extremism, particularly among youth. For these to be effective, however, it is crucial to understand the motives for joining terrorist organizations. On this, he spotlighted the Union’s support to Mozambique — along with United Nations agencies and local authorities — to enhance social cohesion and reinforce peace and stability through the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. Another example of this is the bloc’s updated strategy for the Sahel, which focuses on the need to strengthen governance and provide basic services to the population. Further, the Union supports mediation efforts between local communities and security forces in Kenya and trains security forces to protect civilians and engage with local communities in Nigeria.
He went on to point out that investments in prevention and peacebuilding yield a positive rate of return, as “every $1 invested in peacebuilding could save $16 on the cost of conflict and violence”. Also spotlighting the importance of a regional approach, he pointed out that the European Union is an example of how greater connectivity and integration have fostered peace across Europe. The bloc is Africa’s closest partner, he said, noting that “Team Europe” is the largest provider of ODA, the largest investor on the continent and Africa’s “number one trade partner”. The bloc is mobilizing at least €150 billion by 2027 in sectors such as transport, education, health, energy and digitalization, also supporting regional integration and climate adaptation. Adding that such investments are fully in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and will create resilience in societies — ultimately contributing to silencing the guns — he stressed that “the 2030 Agenda is indivisible”. Peace and security go hand-in-hand with sustainable development, human rights and gender equality, he observed.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) said that small arms and light weapons continue to represent a challenge that cuts across peace and security, the human rights agenda, sustainable development and beyond. “To silence the guns, we need to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms through the effective implementation of international and regional arms control instruments,” she stressed. Human and financial resources at the local level will help mitigate armed violence to end conflict and achieve peace and sustainable development. Since the average age of an African citizen is below 20 years old, it is important for Governments, international and regional organizations, civil society groups, and traditional and religious leaders to engage with young people in decision-making processes, she said. Involving youth in the implementation of the Silencing of the Guns in Africa initiative, at all levels, can promote behavioural change. The African Union Agenda 2063 recognizes the importance of women and youth as drivers of change and sets out gender equality and women's empowerment as a key aspiration for the region. Costa Rica, for its part, is also seeking to apply these lessons by better engaging youth, local governments and civil society through its own national development plan.
ANTONIO VITORINO, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), reported that conflicts and violence are the dominant forces behind protracted displacement that reached 53.2 million at the end of 2021, marking a new historic record. Forced displacements can also be a driver of conflict when influxes of populations lead to competition over scarce resources and land. Violent extremist groups have been contesting State presence and legitimacy across the continent, often in remote and underdeveloped areas where institutions have been weak or absent, allowing them to conduct illegal activities and exploit the civilian population. Against this backdrop, he cited well-managed migration as a powerful driver to mitigate the combined impacts of conflicts, climate change and development gaps to achieve empowerment of migrants and displaced persons. To prevent conflicts and build peace, early warning systems must be linked to inclusive conflict resolution mechanisms, he asserted. Understanding why people are on the move, their preferred solution to end their displacement, and what obstacles there are to their re-integration are essential to sustain peace, he said, calling for more comprehensive solutions that enable safer migration of persons, transhumant herds and other cross-border movements.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), speaking for the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said that socioeconomic factors have a crucial role to play in promoting social cohesion or, conversely, triggering conflict. Economic deprivation and widening inequalities are risk factors that lead to atrocity crimes, he stressed, adding that they exacerbate the competition for scarce resources and limit State capacity. Over the past two decades the African Union has enhanced its capabilities to deal with crisis situations on the continent. However, the continent remains home to crises that increasingly jeopardize human and national security, he said, adding that the consequences of the devastating impact of the illicit transfer and trafficking of weapons across Africa can be seen in a number of conflict zones.
Commending the Master Road Map of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020, he stressed the importance of disarmament, arms business accountability and promoting resilience. Preventing and responding to the threat of atrocity crimes calls for a better understanding of early warning signs, he said, pointing to the need to tackle long-standing institutionalized discrimination, hate speech, increase in illicit arms trafficking and biodiversity loss. The African Union’s continental early warning sign system has been instrumental in analysing emerging security threats, he said, adding that it should be strengthened further. The Silencing the Guns initiative should be adapted to specific contexts, he said, adding that by preventing the illicit proliferation of small arms, States can limit atrocity crimes. He also highlighted the role of civil society and stressed the importance of implementing the women, peace and security agenda.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia) underlined the need for enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union in all areas of peace, security and development, with both organizations clearly outlining their roles according to their comparative advantages, including in peacekeeping in Africa. Namibia is contributing to strengthening the continental peace and security architecture through its current membership of the African Union Peace and Security Council and as incumbent Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. Underscoring the need to recognize the links between all threats to peace and security, including socioeconomic and climate challenges, illicit financial flows and criminal activities, he noted that curbing illicit financial flows will make it more difficult to illicitly acquire small weapons, contributing to silencing the guns. Pointing out that illicit arms flow and diversion of arms continues across the continent despite measures put in place by the African Union and Security Council, he called for greater transparency through better information sharing and for scrupulous, systematic and inclusive implementation of international and African regional instruments containing legally or politically binding obligations and commitments to prevent the proliferation and misuse of arms in Africa.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said that her country is proud of its distinctive relations and evolved strategic partnerships with African States and the African Union. Qatar serves as an impartial mediator in conflict resolution, as well as a reliable partner in peacemaking and peacebuilding within the priorities of the Silencing the Guns initiative and United Nations peace efforts. She welcomed progress made since the initiative’s launch — including the halting of several conflicts — also stating that development policies that address the root causes of conflict and promote socioeconomic development could contribute to achieving peace, security and sustainable development in Africa. This, she said, is Qatar’s focus in its bilateral and multilateral partnerships, in which it works to achieve inclusive economic growth, reduce poverty and inequality and build communities’ resilience and capacity to peacefully resolve conflicts.
MARTIN BILLE HERMANN (Denmark), speaking also for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, stressed that illegally imported small arms and light weapons may exacerbate conflict and hamper stability and development. Emphasizing the critical importance of regional organizations, he added that “no one is better” at understanding conflict dynamics and causes than them. Encouraging a stronger synergy between the African peace and security architecture and the African governance architecture, as well as a closer African Union and United Nations partnership, he said that the Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace could address this, along with predictable funding to African-led peace operations. To this end, United Nations assessed contributions on a case-by-case basis should be considered. Further, the operationalization of the humanitarian, development and peace nexus is key in supporting efforts to silence the guns. “Our organizations and structures may be built in silos, but we all know that reality and conflict dynamics are never siloed,” he stated. He called for the meaningful participation of women and other stakeholders in decision-making and peacebuilding processes to leverage local knowledge and solutions, and commended African Union member States that have adopted national action plans on women, peace and security. He also called for the meaningful participation of youth in decisions about silencing the guns.
MICHAEL IMRAN KANU (Sierra Leone) said that development policies which benefit only a minority of individuals in a particular country can result in inequality and conflict. The objective should be to design and execute development policies that produce positive impacts, leading to stability and prosperity. Since the end of its civil conflict over two decades ago, Sierra Leone has undertaken various development initiatives, including the implementation of three poverty reduction strategies and the current Medium Term National Development Plan that emphasizes human capital development and prioritizes education. He urged Governments to allocate sufficient resources to implement development policies and priorities, encourage a favourable environment for private sector growth, create employment opportunities, and take all necessary measures to reduce conflict drivers.
EVANGELOS SEKERIS (Greece), associating himself with the European Union, said that persistent challenges, including geopolitical tensions and conflicts, the recovery from the pandemic, acute food insecurity, and the climate crisis, have created setbacks for African countries. “Silencing the Guns” requires looking beyond peace and security issues, and, instead, focusing on structural transformation of the socioeconomic sphere. Africa’s young population, its abundance of resources and its diversity have the potential to transform the continent into an immense driver of global peace and prosperity. In this context, he noted that the African Union’s Agenda 2063 is critical to support nationally led efforts to build accountable and inclusive institutions. Africa must generate its own institutions, policies and strategies to prevent conflict, he asserted, highlighting the importance of human development, notably in health and education. Moreover, he stressed the need for a tailored approach to blended finance and investment promotion, taking into account the specific vulnerabilities of African countries. As well, women and youth must be fully integrated in all aspects of decision-making to ensure inclusivity and diversity, he noted.
ROBERT KAYINAMURA (Rwanda), stressing that the “Silencing the Guns” initiative cannot be sustained without development, highlighted the importance of good governance. The international community must address the underlying causes of conflict, he said, and citing his country’s post-conflict experience, stressed the need for stronger institutions, based on rule of law, democratic principles and accountability. The Road Map is an important framework, which, if implemented, would contribute to an Africa free of conflict. Efforts to prevent conflicts should be as multifaceted as the conflicts themselves, he said, adding that inclusion and justice are essential ingredients for sustainable peace. Calling for a firm commitment to human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, he added: “We must think global but act local.”
NIAMH MARY KELLY (Ireland), aligning herself with the European Union, pointed out that her country — having learned from its experience of conflict — recognizes the need to address underlying socioeconomic factors that fuel tension and contribute to conflict. Poverty, inequality and marginalization can create fertile ground in which grievances can take root and addressing these issues is essential to achieving lasting peace. “This was true in Northern Ireland,” she said, adding that it remains true in many parts of Africa where drivers of conflict are compounded by legacies of slavery, colonization, the imposition of artificial borders and the unjust exploitation of natural resources. Such challenges can be overcome, however, and Mozambique is an emerging success story in this regard. “Peace is a process, not a destination,” she added, highlighting several issues requiring action, including the illicit transfer, accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. While moving from conflict to sustainable development “is never a straight line”, she stressed that this represents a complex — yet vital — journey towards a safer, more secure and prosperous Africa.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania) highlighted the unfortunate reality that natural resource wealth often fails to translate into improved livelihoods for citizens, instead feeding corruption, violence, and conflict. In response to this, Romania has invested in the capacity-building of some African States and education for young generations. Both Romania’s Ministry of Education and Ministry of Foreign Affairs grant higher education scholarships to incoming African students. He also noted that his country shares many of the challenges faced by the Governments and people of Africa, such as brain drain, harnessing the advantages of digitalization, and finding well-balanced solutions to support environmentally friendly policies. Romania’s over 30 years of experience after embracing democracy has taught it invaluable lessons in terms of both successes and errors, which it is open to sharing with its friends in Africa. In 2023, Romania plans to continue its actions towards achieving peace, development, human rights, and security in Africa, he added.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic) said that environment is one of the main challenges listed in the Road Map, especially the need to reduce vulnerabilities of livelihoods to climate change through building resilient systems. In this context, there is a need to diversify agriculture and make it more resilient against adverse effects of climate change, he noted, citing agriculture as the backbone of Africa's economy and the source of livelihood for the majority of the continent's population. It is, therefore, crucial to continue supporting small and middle-scale African farmers through improved knowledge of sustainable agricultural practices, mechanization and smart farming solutions. Moreover, special focus must be placed on African youth, who are increasingly leaving villages for towns, and on economic empowerment of rural women and girls with the aim to reducing chronic poverty. Stressing the need to address the impacts of climate change on the continent, he recalled his country’s participation in the Team Europe Initiative on Climate Adaptation and Resilience in Africa. The continent will not be stable and conflict-resilient unless it can rely on efficient agriculture and is prepared to face natural disasters, he stressed.
TESFAYE YILMA SABO (Ethiopia) highlighted the pledge made by African countries, through Agenda 2063, to eradicate poverty in one generation and build shared prosperity through social and economic transformation. The road map on the practical steps to silence the guns clearly stipulates that peace, security and socioeconomic development should be pursued simultaneously. His continent’s political history has been marred by three major tragedies: slavery, colonization and exploitation of natural resources, he said, noting that despite this, it has risen up to the challenge. “We rekindled and redeployed the spirit of Pan-African solidarity and unity of purpose that underpinned the emancipation from slavery, colonialism and apartheid,” he said, stressing the inalienable sovereign right of African countries to use and manage their natural resources. Ethiopia is working to ensure that root causes of extremism and violence are addressed in a concerted manner and using multidimensional interventions, he said.
THOMAS NWANKWO CHUKWU (Nigeria) said that increasing access to education, strengthening governance, securing technology transfer and promoting the inclusive participation of women and youth will lead to more-resilient societies. “Nowhere is this need more evident than in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions,” he stressed, noting that they are grappling with climate change’s devastating consequences for livelihoods and development. Recovery and resilience strategies must centre on unique national and regional perspectives and address the root causes of violent conflict. As well, ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable financing for peace-and-security activities remains a major challenge facing the African Union, regional institutions and African States. He therefore underlined the need to overcome obstacles to providing support to African-led peace operations from United Nations assessed contributions and to mobilize domestic resources while tackling illicit financial flows. He also said that expanding knowledge and research capabilities on illicit arms flows are important for curbing the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons, detailing national efforts designed to respond to both this issue and to terrorism.
KHRYSTYNA HAYOVYSHYN (Ukraine) said that Africa must address both the symptoms and root causes of conflict. Implementation of the following priorities is crucial: reinforcing good governance and rule of law; ensuring unrestricted access to quality education; stimulating economic diversification and sustainable livelihoods; and ensuring the equal participation and leadership of women. Among many challenges that Africa is facing today, special attention should be paid to the activities of mercenaries. Ukraine is particularly concerned over the increasing footprint in several African countries of the “international criminal organization, the Wagner Group, which is closely linked to Russia’s terrorist regime”, she said. That group is currently not only committing grave human rights violations but is also actively participating in combat operations against the armed forces of Ukraine and is using various methods of warfare by recruiting thousands of convicts from Russian jails, including those of African descent, she reported.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) emphasized that several countries in Africa — particularly in the Sahel, Central Africa and the Horn of Africa — continue to be conflict ridden by chronic political instability, ethnic divisions, and exploitation by terrorist and armed groups. There is also the role of external factors in fuelling such conflicts which continues to be a matter of deep concern. Inclusive politics, well-established governance structures and decentralized administration are critical elements in nation-building processes, which could be long and complex processes, particularly for countries ravaged by colonial rule lasting centuries. Calling for Africa-driven solution to Africa’s problems, she cautioned that an external one-size-fits-all solution is a recipe for failure. Instead, deeper understanding of conflicts in Africa that best responds to their local wisdom and developing a sense of ownership are critical factors in resolving such conflicts and achieving lasting peace. She also stressed the need to strengthen the capacities of national, regional and subregional responses to terrorism in Africa through capacity-building, training, equipment and sustainable financial support.
ANA JIMENEZ DE LA HOZ (Spain), aligning herself with the European Union, called for an integrated approach that focuses not only on peace and security, but also sustainable development and the strengthening of institutions. Underscoring the link between security and development, she highlighted her country’s two successive presidencies of the General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance. Spain is particularly focused on supporting the pillar of peace and security, by promoting good governance, human rights and terrorism prevention. Also highlighting her country’s support for efforts promoting gender equality and the participation of women, in line with the relevant resolutions of the Security Council, she said that recently Spain organized a conference in cooperation with the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). Underlining regional efforts, she expressed support for the African Union and noted various financial contributions that her country made towards various peace and security efforts on the continent.
HARI PRABOWO (Indonesia) said that, at the national level, local communities — including women and youth — must be empowered towards peace and development, which constitutes a “bottom-up” approach throughout the peace continuum. He also called for enhancing partnerships at the regional level, stating that “every region knows best” with regards to prevention, responding to security challenges and sustaining peace. International partnerships are also important to support capacity-building, share best practices and maintain good governance, including through South-South and Triangular Cooperation. He added that the Peacebuilding Commission should strengthen its role in bridging security and development in post-conflict settings; make the most of its convening role to facilitate coherence in peacebuilding; and support institution-building and reconstruction in affected areas. Effective accomplishment of these tasks, however, will depend on accountable, sustainable and predictable resources, he observed.
MARTÍN JUAN MAINERO (Argentina) said that economic difficulties and inequalities are significant risk factors that can lead to conflicts, worsen the competition for resources, and hinder the State’s ability to peacefully resolve internal tensions. The “Silencing the Guns” initiative is a crucial effort aimed at ending conflicts on the African continent. In the past two decades, the African Union and its regional mechanisms have demonstrated their ability to address conflict situations and crises in the region. Therefore, it is necessary to take coordinated action between States in the region, subregional organizations, and the United Nations to combat the activities of terrorist groups and, at the same time, tackle the illicit trafficking of drugs, small arms, and light weapons. African issues are regularly on the Council’s agenda. The partnership between the United Nations, the African Union, and its Member States is vital to achieving collective efforts for peace and security in Africa.
BERNARD MABEBA (South Africa) said that, despite the effects of the pandemic and other multidimensional challenges, the African continent has made meaningful progress in advancing socioeconomic development since the adoption of its Agenda 2063, including the “Silencing the Guns” initiative. However, the quest for achieving prosperity and socioeconomic development is contingent on ending violent conflicts and instability on the continent as peace and development are intertwined. Against this backdrop, the African Union and respective regional economic communities have adopted several frameworks to aid countries achieve their respective development objectives by focusing primarily on addressing root causes of insecurity and improving governance. There are impediments to silencing the guns permanently, as evidenced by recurrence of conflicts in some parts of the continent, he said, calling for strategic investment to conflict prevention, peacebuilding and sustaining peace through strengthened post-conflict reconstruction and development interventions. Moreover, the implementation of development policies requires long-term financing. He also underscored that unilateral sanctions and other economic coercive measures as well as illicit financial flows have been proven as impediments to the socioeconomic development of countries on the continent.