SILENCING THE GUNS: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development

Wednesday January 29 2020

AMISOM Soldiers.

AMISOM soldiers. PHOTO | AUC 

AFRICAN UNION
By AFRICAN UNION
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In 2013, during The 50th Anniversary of the OAU/AU, African Heads of State and Government made a Solemn Declaration committing to tackle head-on the scourge of violent conflict in Africa and pronounced their firm determination to achieve the noble goal of a conflict-free Africa, thereby making peace a reality for African people, ridding our beloved continent of wars, violent conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian crises as well as preventing genocide.

Significantly, African leaders “pledged not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans”.

To this end, African leaders reaffirmed their commitment to address the structural root causes of violent conflict, and took a number of initiatives such as, the declaration of the period 2014-2024 as the Nelson Mandela Decade of Reconciliation in Africa and the month of September of each year, until 2020, as “Africa Amnesty Month” for the surrender and collection of illegally-owned weapons and arms. In addition Silencing the Guns in Africa was reaffirmed as a Flagship Project of Africa’s Agenda 2063, requiring Africans to work together towards ending all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide.

In furtherance of its commitment to achieve the Aspirations of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and specifically Aspiration 4 which envisions a Peaceful and Secure; the African Union Heads of State and Government committed to the theme of the year 2020 being “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive conditions for Africa’s Development.

Guided by key instruments such as the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), the AU Peace and Security Council, as well as funding for peace and security operations through the AU Peace Fund; the 2020 Theme will focus attention towards pushing for a peaceful coexistence between the citizens of African states and between African nations in order to create the conducive environment necessary to benefit from the opportunities that arise from social, cultural and economic interaction and integration and increasing the chances for socio-economic growth and development. This will also include shining a light on the structural root causes for conflicts in Africa including governance deficit and failures in ensuring inclusive and progressive development agenda.

Various AU treaties governing issues related to promoting peace, security and good governance include the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Convention for the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa, Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, The Non-Aggression and Common Defence Pact, African Charter on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa, African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption.

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Promoting peace, security and stability on the continent is one of the key activities of the African Union (AU), as the linkages between peaceful environment and sustainable development are naturally evident. The AU Agenda 2063 places importance on the aspiration for a peaceful and secure Africa and one of the Flagship Initiatives is that of Silencing the Guns by 2020 which aims to drive the African agenda to end all wars, civil conflicts, gender based violence and violent conflicts and prevent genocide.

Significant progress has been made towards Silencing the Guns in Africa in spite of the common narrative of Africa being a continent always at war with itself, with severe humanitarian consequences.

In 2002 when the AU was formed as the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), there were around 28 conflicts/crises situations. By
2009 these had reduced to around seven, due to the efforts of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC).

However, from 2010 to date (2017), the number has arisen again to over 15 conflicts/crises. Adding to this is the emergence of terrorism and violent extremism affecting parts of Northern Africa, the Sahel, Western and Central Africa.

The achievements in the reduction in conflicts is as a result of the efforts deployed by the Member States of the AU in promoting peace, security, stability and development to all African citizens by facilitating dialogue-centered conflict prevention and mediation, as well as peacebuilding efforts in Member States emerging from violent conflicts, specifically the strengthening of national infrastructures for peace.

In addition to the above, the AU deploys troops for the protection of citizens, to maintain peace and bring stability in the continent.

The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA)

The African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), is the African Union’s blue print for the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa. The central pillar of the APSA is the PSC, which is the AU’s standing decision making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts as well as, on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development.

The PSC is supported, in the discharge of its mandate, by various structures, namely: the Commission, the Panel of the Wise, the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), the African Standby Force (ASF)and the Peace Fund. The PSC has developed the AU Master Roadmap (AUMR) on Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020.

The Master Roadmap is premised on the principle that Africa should assertively assume total responsibility for its destiny by fostering lasting peace and stability, which contributes to building prosperity and the well- being of African Citizens The Roadmap is geared towards effective interventions on conflict prevention, management, resolution and post- conflict reconstruction and development, which would contribute to the goal of silencing the Guns by 2020.

Within the framework of APSA, the AU continues to work with strategic partners such asThe European Union (EU), United Nations (UN) and other bilateral partners in its efforts towards attaining peace on the continent.

During the Peace and Security Council meeting held in June 2017, the following recommendations were made

• African Member States who have not done so, to sign, ratify and implement all relevant AU and international instruments related to silencing
the guns in Africa, in particular the Arms Trade Treaty, which will play a great role in this initiative;

• Encouraged political actors, especially political parties and parliaments, to foster conducive conditions that contribute to the preservation of peace, security, stability, and cohesion and encouraged them to use Agenda 2063, as a guide for elaboration of their manifestos and programmes;

• Highlighted the need to capacitate law enforcement agencies to enable them

• Effectively contribute to stopping inflow of illicit weapons into Africa, and at the same time curb the circulation of illicit weapons within the continent,
and also enhance capacity to identify, seize and destroy illicit weapons;

• Recommended the declaration of the African Day, 25 May, as an Amnesty Day for surrender and collection of illegally owned weapons/arms to
designated national law enforcement agencies;

• Multi-stakeholder collaborative effort-AUC, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), policy makers, civil society organisations, private sector- to
take all necessary measures to fully implement the AU Master Roadmap.

The AU Peace Fund

The AU and its Member States are already taking the lead in confronting challenges which other institutions are not able to address. With an AU Peace Fund which promotes African ownership of its peace and security agenda, the continent, will establish a foundation for creating a more responsive international peace and security architecture.

Some of the ongoing actions being taken by the AU to deliver on Silencing the Guns include

• Chairperson of the AUC, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, appointed of H.E. Ramtane Lamamra, of Algeria as his High Representative for Silencing the
Guns in Africa

• Establishment of the Nouakchott and Djibouti Processes for the enhancement

• Of security cooperation and intelligence sharing in the Sahel and Eastern Africa regions, respectively, to respond to existing and emerging security
challenges such as extremism, terrorism and transnational threats.
• AUC is working closely with the Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) to find sustainable solutions to conflict/
crises situations in the continent.
• Resource mobilization through close partnership with relevant stakeholders, in financing the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).The AU is working on a roadmap to secure financing of its peace support operations.

Find out more about Agenda 2063, Silencing the Guns and the AU treaties on peace and governance as well and their status of ratification of these treaties by African states by visiting www.au.int