Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held talks with African heads of state, foreign ministers and representatives of the United Nations and other multilateral bodies on February 10, on the sidelines of the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
The talks, titled Sustaining Peace and Economic Security, aligned with the Summit’s theme: Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.
Top on Trudeau’s agenda was ways to secure peace across the continent as a necessary condition for prosperity. Other issues discussed were the role that international financial institutions and youth job creation can play in Africa in averting extremism and conflict; and the AU leadership in peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.
Among the participants were President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso, the Vice President of Gambia Isatou Touray, President of the United Nations General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Vera Songwe, and the foreign ministers of Sierra Leone and Rwanda.
Trudeau, the 2020 chair of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, called for co-operation among international partners and governments to create economic opportunity and prosperity that is broadly shared, “…as a way not just of countering the pull of extremism in some places or the cynicism of populism, but as a way of building a real and tangible future for countries around the world.”
“In this time of change, in this time of transformation of the global economy, time of conflict, time of climate conflict, people worry that the system has no place for them and isn’t providing them with what they need,” he said.
In opening remarks, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina noted the shifting nature of conflicts across Africa. While the number of outright wars in Africa has declined substantially, they have been replaced with greater fluidity with rising cases of terrorism, extremism and conflicts from non-state actors.
The root causes of conflict, according to Adesina, include “rising inequalities, lack of political inclusiveness, extreme poverty, management and control over natural resources, youth unemployment that causes social unrest, climate change, to name a few.”
The breakfast meeting was intended to strengthen the Commission’s partnership with the African Union (AU) and integrate African priorities in conflict prevention and bolstering economic security.
PM Trudeau acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges that developed and developing countries face is the perception that governments are indifferent.