8473rd Security Council Meeting: Maintenance of International Peace and Security Part 2

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27-Feb-2019 03:56:46
Security Council adopts resolution outlining means to ensure robust support for African Union peace operations, end conflict on continent at 8473rd meeting.

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The Security Council adopted a resolution today that outlines steps leading towards the goal of ending conflict in Africa through enhanced international cooperation and partnership as well as robust support for peace operations led by the African Union.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2457 (2019) at the outset of a day-long open debate, the Council welcomed the African Union’s determination to rid the continent of conflict through its “Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020” initiative, expressing its readiness to contribute to that goal.

By that text, the Council also acknowledged that the task of building a conflict-free Africa essentially rests upon the African Union, its 54 member States, their people and their institutions. It also expressed support for initiatives seeking African solutions to African problems, while recognizing at the same time the need for international cooperation and partnership to help speed progress towards realizing that continental objective.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, briefed the Council at the outset of the debate, saying that the “Silencing the Guns by 2020” initiative is critical not only for what it aims to do, but also for what it says about the importance of African leadership and partnership with the global community. Highlighting the wide-ranging cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, she pointed out that the two organizations share a common mission — to prevent conflict — and that the partnership is already bearing fruit, from Mali to Madagascar.

However, problems persist, she cautioned. Despite great strides towards deepening democracy, Africa still faces many governance challenges, including the marginalization of certain groups, the prevalence of “winner-takes-all” approaches, corruption and mismanagement of natural resources. Calling also for greater efforts to increase women’s participation in political processes, she stressed the importance of strong institutions and resilient societies as the keys to silencing the guns.

Striking a darker note, Vasu Gounden, founder and Executive Director of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), emphasized that the question is not if, but whether the guns will be silenced by 2020. “The answer is a resounding ‘no’,” he declared. “Many parts of Africa are reaching a dangerous tipping point and we are currently in a race against time.”

Insisting that the Security Council do more beyond passing a resolution, he warned about a time bomb combining a dangerous blend of grinding urban poverty and the steady influx of illicit small arms and light weapons. To change the current trajectory, Member States must stem the flow of illicit weapons, almost all of which are produced outside Africa, and the Council must provide more resources for preventing conflict, building peace and helping to make African industries productive. “Unless you take these actions collectively […] you would not have silenced the guns,” he said. “You would only have silenced your powerful voices.”

Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union’s High Representative for the “Silencing the Guns by 2020” initiative, acknowledged the many major challenges remaining with the approach of the December 2020 deadline for ending war. However, he underlined the urgent need to build a robust culture of preventing crises while fostering peace and tolerance at a time when several countries remain trapped in a vicious cycle of violent conflict and its deadly consequences.

He went on to emphasize that “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020” is not a mere slogan. Instead, it is meant to establish a conflict-free region and make peace a reality for all its peoples. That is why the African Union is pursuing the flagship initiative as a top priority towards the realization of “the Africa We Want”, known as Agenda 2063, he said, recalling that the African Union Assembly adopted the Master Roadmap for Silencing the Guns in January 2017. “We remain convinced that peace cannot be achieved without development, and vice-versa, and that both peace and development cannot thrive without human rights and good governance,” he said. Another essential key is a positive Security Council response to long-standing and legitimate calls for the funding of African Union-led peace operations through United Nations assessed contributions.

African Council members also shared their perspectives. Simeón Oyono Esono Angüe, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, said African countries have a collective responsibility to prioritize goals set out in such action plans as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063, with a view to ensuring the inclusive promotion of equality while preventing violence. Equally critical is addressing the root causes of conflict, he added.

Other members agreed, with Côte d’Ivoire’s representative emphasizing that any commitment to silence the guns in Africa must consider tackling poverty and unemployment while giving young people alternatives to a life of crime. Spotlighting several national efforts, including the creation of a dedicated authority to handle the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation of former combatants, he called for coordinated strategies and the pooling of resources to reverse current trends.

More than 50 delegates from the wider United Nations membership shared perspectives and expressed their support for ongoing efforts. Many called for guaranteeing the inclusion of women and young people in peace processes, while others urged greater cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations in nurturing a culture of peace. Still others recommended enhancing the exchange of best practices and lessons learned as a measure that countries can use among themselves to prevent or resolve conflict.

A number of delegates expressed alarm that whereas Africa is not a major arms producer, it remains riddled with illegally imported small arms and light weapons, which inflame or exacerbate conflict and tensions. Benin’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, welcomed the Secretary-General’s disarmament plan to rein in the proliferation of weapons, while calling for implementation of the International Tracing Instrument to track the flow of weapons.

Robert Mardini of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) noted that conventional arms are poorly regulated and widely available, resulting in a culture of violence that undermines the rule of law and threatens reconciliation efforts. Citing the role of such weapons in the Lake Chad Basin, Libya and South Sudan conflicts, he called upon Member States to silence the guns by ensuring responsible trade in arms and preventing the diversion of weapons to the illicit market. In that context, he expressed support for the role of solid frameworks like the Kinshasa Convention and the Arms Trade Treaty in providing a blueprint for reducing human suffering.

Also speaking today were representatives of Germany, Dominican Republic, France, Russian Federation, Poland, Indonesia, United States, South Africa, United Kingdom, Belgium, Peru, China, Kuwait, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, India, Norway, Pakistan, Estonia, Lebanon (for the Arab Group), Libya, Morocco, Namibia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Kenya, Algeria, Sudan, Iran, Botswana, Angola, Portugal, Romania, Djibouti, Rwanda, Ireland, Mali, Ghana, Canada, Slovakia, Turkey, Tunisia, Eritrea and the Republic of Korea.

Representatives of the European Union, the League of Arab States and the Holy See also delivered statements.

The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 5:47 p.m.

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