Africa No Arms Producer, Speakers Point Out amid Praise for Successful Peace Processes in Horn, Madagascar, South Sudan
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.
Action on Draft Resolution
By a unanimous vote, the Security Council adopted resolution 2457 (2019).
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the “Silencing the Guns” initiative to promote the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts in Africa 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. Emphasizing 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. That partnership is bearing fruit in different African countries, including the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, Madagascar and Mali, she said, adding that the United Nations has also stepped up its support for efforts to combat terrorism and counter violent extremism in Africa.
Calling also for greater efforts to increase women’s participation in political processes, she also stressed the need for strong institutions and resilient societies as the key to silencing the guns. Although great strides have been made towards deepening democracy in Africa, many governance challenges remain, she cautioned, citing the marginalization of certain groups, the prevalence of “winner-takes-all” approaches, corruption and mismanagement of natural resources. In that regard, she pointed to the Organization’s work with the African Union and the relevant regional economic communities to address the root causes of armed conflict, including providing support for democratic consolidation, upholding human rights, ending marginalization and promoting inclusive socioeconomic development in accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Quoting a recent statement by the Secretary-General, she said “a wind of hope is blowing in Africa”, with political progress accompanied by increased entrepreneurship and access to education as well as declining child mortality. Launched a year ago, the African Continental Free Trade Area and other initiatives demonstrate that Africans, in partnership with the global community, are leading the way to sustainable peace and prosperity. African countries, the African Union and the continent’s private sector and civil society have a central role to play in silencing the guns, but it is vital that the international community lend its support to help them achieve that objective, she emphasized, adding that today’s debate should galvanize support for that effort.
RAMTANE LAMAMRA, High Representative of the African Union for “Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020”, said that since its adoption, the bloc’s flagship project to establish a conflict-free region and make peace a reality for all its peoples has not remained a mere slogan. It is being pursued as a top priority towards the realization of “the Africa We Want”, known as Agenda 2063, he said, explaining that the region’s leaders have pledged to end all wars on the continent by 2020. The African Union Assembly adopted the Master Roadmap for Silencing the Guns in January 2017, he recalled, noting that notable progress has been made in preventing, managing and resolving conflicts. He cited the recently concluded peace agreements in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, the successful democratic elections held in Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the historic positive developments in the Horn of Africa.
The African Union continues to strengthen its architectures on peace and security as well as on governance, he continued. Recalling that the bloc’s strategic partnership with the United Nations was bolstered by the signing of a joint framework in April 2017, he noted, however, that major challenges remain with the approach of the December 2020 deadline for ending wars. Several African countries remain trapped in a vicious cycle of violent conflict and its deadly consequences arising from transnational crime, terrorism and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, he pointed out. Poor governance and leadership remain a major source of instability, allowing space for corruption and related illegal activities, including illicit exploitation of natural resources. There is urgent need to build a robust culture of conflict prevention as well as a culture of peace and tolerance, he emphasized.
He went on to note that his office recently launched a media campaign reaching out to Africans on the continent, especially the young, but also to the African diaspora. “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 emphasized. Equally important is the need for the Security Council to respond positively to the African Union’s long-standing and legitimate calls for the funding of African peace support operations through United Nations assessed contributions. He said that his role is geared towards coordinating the various stakeholders and galvanizing the support necessary for deploying the relevant conflict-resolution interventions. An action plan for supporting the Silencing the Guns initiative is being developed to deliver concrete results, he said. Recalling that Nelson Mandala once said “it always seems impossible until it’s done”, he declared: “Let’s do it together.”
VASU GOUNDEN, founder and Executive Director, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), said he has 27 years of experience in helping to resolve conflicts in Africa, including under apartheid in South Africa. “Attempting to resolve a conflict after actually having been in one gives one the added advantage of empathy born out of experience,” he said, emphasizing the value of the empathy factor in numerous interventions. Many seemingly intractable conflicts in Africa over the last two decades were resolved through negotiations, including those in South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Sudan/South Sudan, Madagascar, Liberia, Sierra Leone and recently Ethiopia/Eritrea and the Central African Republic, he noted. ACCORD has trained more than 20,000 people in Africa and many now occupy high office as presidents, ministers, senior Government officials, military generals and civil society leaders, he said, adding that the Centre is ranked as one of the best in the world and the top think tank in Africa.
However, with new conflicts emerging and some old ones persisting, the question is whether the guns will be silenced by 2020, he said, adding: “The answer is a resounding ‘no’.” Emphasizing the importance of debating the modalities for silencing the guns, he described Silencing the Guns as merely a mitigation tool that will be meaningless in the absence of good governance and urgent transformation of the structural drivers of conflict. “Many parts of Africa are reaching a dangerous tipping point and we are currently in a race against time,” he warned, explaining that transformation to deal with root causes and deep structural challenges will take between 20 to 40 years to address. He went on to stress that robust mitigation, including silencing the guns, must be an immediate priority so as to arrest violence and conflict while allowing socioeconomic transformation to take place.
He went on to warn: “Anything short of that will result in the gradual collapse of law and order and a deterioration into civil war that will push Africa’s transformation even further back.” Pointing out that the vast majority of countries on the continent have not dealt with poverty, unemployment and inequality, he said most of them remain largely subsistence agricultural economies, making little to no progress towards an industrial or services economy. This is occurring amid urbanization that offers no prospect of proper housing, health care, education, sanitation or water, he noted. “Introduce guns into this equation and you light the proverbial ‘time bomb’ waiting to explode,” he cautioned, explaining that this is why 2020 is the deadline for silencing the guns.
Five years ago, ACCORD’s prognosis was that the theatre of conflict will shift to urban areas over the next two decades, he recalled. However, it is already a reality today, he said, stressing: “I am not being dramatic, alarmist or pessimistic.” He explained that he came to alert the Council that a time bomb is already lit “because you sit in this highest decision-making body charged with maintaining my security and that of my children and the millions more around the world”. The Council must do more beyond passing a resolution, he insisted, saying Member States must stem the flow of illicit weapons, almost all of which are not produced in Africa. They must also provide more resources for preventing conflict and building peace. They must help 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.”
SIMEÓN OYONO ESONO ANGÜE, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Equatorial Guinea, Council President for February, spoke in his national capacity, saying that whereas small arms and light weapons represent a great danger requiring urgent anti-trafficking action, Agenda 2063 is part of the solution, being in line with the 2030 Agenda and the Silencing the Guns initiative. African countries have a collective responsibility to prioritize the goals set out in these action plans with a view to ensuring the inclusive promotion of equality while preventing violence, he emphasized. Addressing the root causes of conflict is equally critical for strengthening efforts to accelerate development and reduce poverty, thereby eliminating the breeding ground for violent extremism by first tackling national, ethnic, religious and social tensions. Calling for the consolidation of international efforts to that end, he said they must create an environment that fosters growth, peace and good governance. Meanwhile, United Nations peacekeeping operations must be boosted, he said, stressing that stable financing is crucial. He went on to call upon the Council to unite around resolutions that help to build the Africa of tomorrow, free of guns in a climate of peace and security. The tools already exist, but further work is required to make the African peace and security architecture fully operational, he said. Citing achievements from the Horn of Africa to Madagascar, he said the historic resolution just adopted demonstrates that peace and stability in Africa means peace and stability in the entire world.
WALTER J. LINDNER, State Secretary, Federal Foreign Office, Germany said that his country has made the fight against the proliferation of weapons and ammunition a priority of its tenure on the Council, and also supports strengthening the protection of human rights. Peacekeeping operations have a special responsibility to protect the most vulnerable, he said, noting that adequate human rights components play a crucial role in preventing grave violations against children in armed conflict. Germany is a long-standing partner for Africa in development cooperation and has launched such initiatives as the Group of 20 Compact with Africa, to spur economic activities with and in the continent, he said.
JOSÉ SINGER WEISINGER (Dominican Republic) cited the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons as the common feature of every conflict. Encouraging African States to ensure compliance with legal domestic and international commitments, including honouring arms embargoes, he underlined the importance of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects. Security sector reform and other targeted projects should aim to prevent the use of weapons by civilians, he emphasized. Despite advances in gender equity, greater efforts must be made to guarantee the inclusion of women in security-related processes. Multilateral investment and cooperation in African States could foster much desired social and economic development, he said, adding that women and young people must be included in peace processes. More action is needed to address pressing climate change impacts that affect stability. Meanwhile, Governments and armed groups must renew their commitments to adopt measures for the effective implementation of peace agreements, he stressed.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said positive developments should not mask the fact that conflict persists in Africa. Prevention efforts must be boosted with sustainable funding for peace operations, although peace missions and military responses to crises are only part of the solution. Emphasizing the need for a broader approach, based on a strong partnership among the United Nations, the African Union and subregional African entities. He went on to underline the importance of including women in political as well as conflict-prevention and conflict-resolution processes to foster sustainable peace. More broadly, efforts by the African Union and Member States to address the root causes of conflict, including the Silencing the Guns initiative, are of key importance for long-term crisis prevention and to avoid a repetitive cycle of conflict, he said, underlining that an urgent area of focus must be the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, which continues to feed conflicts, organized crime and terrorism.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said it would be right for the Council to focus today on the efforts that Africans are making to deal with their continent’s peace and security challenges, as well as the ways in which the international community can support them. Despite sizeable progress in resolving crises in South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Horn of Africa, in addition to the holding of peaceful elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria, other situations remain difficult, such as the Lake Chad Basin. Calling attention to foreign combatants returning from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, he called for consolidated efforts to stem the growing threat of terrorism in Africa, underlining, however, that international assistance must be undertaken in strict compliance with the United Nations Charter, and in observance of the principle of non-interference in the affairs of sovereign States. The Russian Federation’s assistance to Africa is always provided with the consent of the recipient countries, he stressed, urging the Council to pay close attention to initiatives aimed at ensuring adequate funding for African Union peace operations.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said there is no doubt that much work remains to realize the goal of a conflict-free Africa. It is of utmost importance to strengthen African confidence-building measures as well as its early-warning, conflict-prevention and mediation capacities, including the Panel of the Wise. Enhanced cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations remains crucial, she added. Conflicts in Africa are complex, as are their root causes, given the social, political and economic inequality still existing there, she said, also emphasizing the importance of good governance and functioning State institutions.
KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire), citing the changing nature of conflict in Africa and the proliferation of arms trafficking, called for coordinated strategies and the pooling of resources to reverse the trend, while emphasizing that silencing the guns is primarily the responsibility of Member States, acting in accordance with the United Nations Charter. He highlighted his own country’s efforts in combating the proliferation of and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons. They include the creation of a dedicated authority to deal with the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation of former combatants. He went on to emphasize the need for strong financial commitments, the role of regional economic communities, and the value of strengthening national capacities and exchanging best practices. Any commitment to silence the guns in Africa must take poverty and unemployment into account as well as the need to give young people alternatives to a life of crime, he stressed.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) underlined the interlinked nature of peace and development, spotlighting the need to combat illicit flows of arms and ammunition while enhancing national law enforcement and judicial capacity. Meanwhile, he called for improving national capacity to safeguard national weapons stockpiles and strengthening regional cooperation on such issues. He also underscored the importance of fighting terrorism and organized crime, warning that they are increasingly interlinked and sophisticated, and have become major threats in Africa. Calling for efforts to eliminate illegal activities that contribute to the funding of terrorist organizations, he also emphasized the importance of addressing the root causes and drivers of conflict, including poverty, economic gaps and social inequality.
JONATHAN R. COHEN (United States) said the goal of a conflict-free Africa is ambitious and worthy, but it will not be easy. Describing the factors contributing to conflict as complex, he cited, among other things, poor governance, mismanagement of natural resources and the trafficking, circulation and use of small arms and light weapons. Emphasizing the need to strengthen mechanisms that anticipate the outbreak of conflict, he described his country’s bilateral efforts, such as helping Kenya strengthen its weapons stockpiles in light of attacks by Al-Shabaab. Whereas the United States supports many of the objectives of Agenda 2063, it is concerned about language in that document calling for reduced imports of food into Africa, he said, adding that his country’s Government hopes to take that issue up with the African Union. Describing today’s resolution as “a good example of partnership”, he said Governments in Africa should be expected to hold each other accountable, particularly in the area of human rights. Turning to several country-specific situations, he said the Government of Zimbabwe must hold rights-violating members of the security forces accountable; the Government as well as protesters in north-west and south-west Cameroon must immediately begin reconciliation efforts; and the Government of Sudan must address the concerns of protesters.
JERRY MATJILA (South Africa) highlighted the importance of the Peace Fund in enhancing self-reliance and ownership in addressing Africa’s peace, security and developmental challenges. He said the Fund is structured around three thematic windows that it will venture to cover: mediation and preventative diplomacy; institutional capacity; and peace support operations. Noting that 50 African Union member States have made contributions amounting to $89 million to the Fund since 2017, he said that they did so on the basis of the existing scale of assessment. He went on to state that the African peace and security architecture should be the central framework within which United Nations Chapter VIII engagement with the African Union should take place.
STEPHEN HICKEY (United Kingdom) said it is vital to translate the noble goal of silencing the guns in Africa into concrete initiatives that make a difference in people’s lives. Calling for strong and effective partnerships, he said effective early-warning and conflict-prevention mechanisms require cooperation between the Council and regional and subregional groups. Effective preventative diplomacy, good offices and mediation efforts must be fully supported, he continued, citing the transition of power in the Gambia and the revitalization of the peace process in South Sudan as examples of the value of such efforts. Women’s participation is another vital element, he said, pointing to Liberia, where Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee and her fellow activists demonstrated the catalytic effect that women campaigning for peace at the grass roots level can have. He went on to call for a robust approach to preventing illicit flows of small arms and light weapons, including strong cross-border and multilateral cooperation to complement the Arms Trade Treaty and other instruments.
KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium) said international efforts should target illicit arms trafficking, and while strengthening arms control, emphasize the importance of ratifying and fully implementing existing instruments. A holistic approach to implementing the Silencing of the Guns initiative must examine the root causes of conflict, she said, adding that special attention must be paid to trafficking in natural resources, from diamonds to wildlife, which helps to ignite or intensify conflict. It is also important to strengthen women’s access to justice and include more of them in conflict-prevention and conflict-resolution initiatives.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said neighbourly regional cooperation is crucial to stamping out the illegal arms trade, as is full implementation of existing instruments and reducing poverty through a multidimensional focus on addressing the root causes of conflict. Promoting education and job opportunities for women, children and young people is essential, he said, noting also the need to foster greater cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations.
WU HAITAO (China) said peace and stability in Africa is a key to security and development around the world. Yet, challenges remain, from poverty to security to fully silencing the guns by 2020. Emphasizing the importance of strengthening the African Union-United Nations partnership, he said both should work more closely together in preventing and resolving conflict. African Union peace and security operations are making critical strides while complementing the work of United Nations missions, he noted. As such, the United Nations should provide predictable financing for African Union peace operations and scale up assistance to the continent’s countries in such areas as infrastructure and trade, with a view to reducing poverty and realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, he added. Recalling that the question of internally displaced persons was discussed at the 2019 African Union Summit, he urged the United Nations to provide constructive assistance in that regard. For its part, China provided $1 billion to fund projects related to silencing the guns by 2020 and will establish a China-Africa peace and security fund to further its support for those goals, he said.
BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said the best way to silence the guns is to build sustainable peace, which can only be done by educating society so that all citizens can participate effectively. As such, a conflict’s root causes must be closely examined, he said, adding that a culture of peace should be deeply rooted through democracy, access to justice and respect for human rights. Emphasizing Africa’s deep importance to the Middle East and the world as a whole, he said Kuwait will continue its economic development cooperation with African States and help them to implement the newly adopted Council resolution.
PABLO CÉSAR GARCÍA SÁENZ, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, noted that the Silencing the Guns initiative is intended to create a conflict-free Africa and rid the region of human rights violations and human suffering. Despite preventive efforts, Africa continues to face various challenges, as does Latin America, he said. The proliferation of illicit weapons affects the entire latter region, he said, adding that in this regard, multilateral cooperation is key to addressing the issue. Pointing out that these weapons kill hundreds of people around the world every day, he said they must be regulated strictly, emphasizing the importance of sharing best practices and applying international instruments. Armed violence hits vulnerable groups such as youth, children and women hardest, he added.
YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan) said that silencing the guns in Africa by 2020 demands a holistic approach in addressing the drivers and root causes of conflict. Managing small arms alone is not enough, he said, urging the United Nations and the African Union to step up their prevention efforts. “It is better to prevent a gun from being fired in the first place than to have to silence one that is already firing,” he said, calling for the development of such preventative tools as early-warning systems, mediation and peacebuilding. He added that the United Nations and African Union can also leverage their strategic partnership to strengthen institutional capacity.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said that, regrettably, both Africa and Latin America pay a heavy price for the uncontrolled trade in illicit weapons, despite not producing them. Producers, exporters, intermediaries and others involved in the trade must curb the illicit trade, he said, emphasizing the importance of strict adherence to arms embargos and related resolutions. Spotlighting efforts by the Inter-American Convention Against Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking of Firearms, he said its main priorities include reducing transnational organized crime, creating inclusive societies and saving lives. He called upon Council members to maximize all available tools while engaging in a comprehensive discussion on the issue while ensuring the equitable and proportional treatment of ammunition. In addition, he called upon States to avoid bundling their anti-organized crime actions with counter-terrorism efforts, which require different responses.
JEAN-CLAUDE FÉLIX DO REGO (Benin), speaking on behalf of the African Group, praised the three African Council members for their efforts to convene today’s debate. Expressing concern about the trafficking, transfer and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons — as well as their proliferation and socioeconomic consequences — he said Africa is among the regions suffering the most, despite not being a producer of such weapons. He went on to underline that international cooperation and assistance are critical, calling upon States to implement the International Tracing Instrument to track the flow of weapons. Welcoming recent diplomatic successes in the Horn of Africa, as well as peace agreements in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, he noted the decrease in the number of conflicts and the increasing number of peace accords in the region, including the 2000 Bamako Declaration and the creation of the African Union Peace and Security Council in 2002. The current configuration of conflicts and terrorism on the continent nevertheless present new challenges, he stressed, calling for increased technical support to developing countries on such matters. He went on to underscore that all States have the sovereign right to produce and stockpile weapons needed for their defence needs, in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said the concept of addressing African problems through African solutions “is a work in progress that needs to be supported”. Mediation efforts by the African Union and other regional and subregional entities are showing positive results and will lead to sustainable and peaceful settlements, he added. Citing the lack of agreement among Member States on increased funding for the Peacebuilding Commission by even 1 per cent of the peacekeeping budget, he emphasized that building peace is not a voluntary pursuit; it must be the common objective of all. He went on to state that the global response to terrorism “remains less than satisfactory”, calling for strong, effective and coherent action reflecting the international community’s collective commitment to defeating terror.
MONA JUUL (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said the Silence the Guns campaign “will enhance our common future and collective security”. It is crucial that regional and subregional organizations such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) continue to improve the delivery of their mandates and that their capacity is further increased, in coordination with the African Union. “Ending armed conflict in Africa requires African solutions,” she stressed, also calling for a more transparent and representative Council that better reflects today’s global realities and expressing support for an increase in the number of both permanent and non-permanent seats for Africa. On the funding of African Union-led peace operations, she voiced support for a system that combines funding from that organization with funds from United Nations-assessed contributions. She also expressed strong support for enhanced conflict prevention and mediation efforts, including under the auspices of the African Peace and Security Architecture.
Mr. KAHN (Pakistan) said that comprehensively addressing the root causes of conflict is imperative for ending conflict and preventing relapses into cycles of violence. The illicit trade of small arms and light weapons exacerbates violence and insecurity and undermines development. The eradication of poverty and inequality are essential to end conflicts. The African Union’s partnership with the United Nations offers a strong foundation. The stabilization of conflict situations and resolution of disputes are critical for a peaceful, secure and prosperous Africa. As one of the largest troop-contributing countries, Pakistan continues to contribute to Africa’s success stories. The African Union and its regional mechanisms have devised several useful instruments to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts. Sustained progress requires enhanced cooperation.
SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), associating himself with the European Union, said a lot remains to be done to achieve peace throughout Africa. Partnership between the United Nations and the African Union has, however, brought lasting peace closer, he said, noting the recent signing of a peace and reconciliation agreement in the Central African Republic. “If we want the guns to stay silent, we need to address the root causes of conflict,” he said, welcoming and encouraging African conflict prevention initiatives. He went on to stress the critical importance of including women and youth in all conflict-resolution and political processes.
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said Africa’s problems call for action by the “global village” and drew attention to the close links between Arab and African populations throughout history. Conflicts should be resolved peacefully in line with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, she stressed, reiterating the Group’s support for the Silence the Guns initiative and the Lusaka Roadmap, which calls for African solutions to African problems. Citing several recent examples of the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa, she said challenges nevertheless remain and outlined various concrete diplomatic efforts by Arab Group members. For example, Morocco hosted several ministerial conferences — including one bringing together Sahel and Sahara leaders committed to strengthening security — and Saudi Arabia supported an agreement between Sudan and Chad. Meanwhile, Algeria hosted negotiations between various parties in Mali, leading to the adoption of its Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. Gulf countries and their neighbours also committed millions of dollars to combating terrorism in the Sahel, she said, underlining the need to provide adequate support to peacekeeping missions active across Africa. An African Centre for Reconstruction and Development will soon be opened in Cairo, she added.
JOÃO PEDRO VALE DE ALMEIDA, European Union, outlined the bloc’s efforts to strengthen the range of tools available to the African Union and its regional mechanisms to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts. Echoing concerns about the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons as a major source of insecurity in Africa, he described the African Union’s Agenda 2063 as a bold and ambitious strategic framework for the continent’s sustainable development. The African Union-European Union Memorandum of Understanding on Peace, Security and Governance signed in May 2018 structures the cooperation between the two organizations, he said, adding that it also considers the complexity of emerging threats and the need to address their root causes. Among other things, the two organizations are operationally active in the Sahel, the Central African Republic and Somalia, and are exploring opportunities to further strengthen their cooperation. The European Union has allocated 20 million euros, until 2020, to the African Peace Facility’s Early Response Mechanism, and it favours a stronger link between the African Peace and Security Architecture and the African Governance Architecture, which can help reduce fragility and foster political stability and effective governance across Africa.
MAGED ABDELFATTAH ABDELAZIZ, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said that the African Union initiative is an effective framework for strengthening cooperation between the two organizations. That is not only because half of the Member States of the League’s members are prominent African Union members, or that Egypt currently chairs the African Union for 2019, but also because of several facts and common interests that require the intensification of Arab-African efforts to achieve this noble objective. Cooperation has intensified through the holding of four Arab-African summits. Saudi Arabia will host the fifth summit this year, aimed at achieving the common interests of the two organizations and to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda. This will require heightened cooperation on several fronts. The Arab world and Africa require strengthened cooperation to address the root causes of armed conflict. Measures are needed to eliminate the proliferation of small and light arms. Both the Arab world and Africa need to combat terrorist organizations and require great reforms in the security sector in order to address the developments in transnational organized crime, cybercrime and violent extremism. The League agrees with the conclusions in the report on silencing the guns, especially as it included the five comprehensive aspects of addressing the issue.
ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) underscored the importance of a nation State. Various social, ethnic and religious groups constitute a nation State and seek peaceful coexistence. A lack of a nation State causes conflict, as fragmentation leads to instability. Individuals and groups can reconcile within a nation State. Society must achieve national reconciliation before the political phase occurs, meaning hatred must be addressed by society. Regarding foreign interventions, “we can never silence the guns with foreign interventions”, which only aggravate historical tensions and prolong conflicts, he said. Development must take into account the specificities of each country in Africa. He stressed the need to combat corruption and establish good governance. The Libyan National Army is tackling transnational organized crime along its borders.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said that Africa has seen many conflicts and has gone a long way on the road to peace, led by a strong African will, which goes hand in hand with the primacy of policy and the commitment to support peace. The Silencing the Guns initiative also needs financial support from the international community, he said, noting the lack of predictable, lasting finances. That is why Morocco co-sponsored the resolution on this point. To develop the Silence the Guns agenda, work is needed to limit flows of small arms and light weapons and this must be one of the key points for action. Terrorism and transnational organized crime are fresh threats that highlight the importance of the initiative and that require further cooperation for border security.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed the establishment of a multi-partner trust facility through the Peacebuilding Fund for the control of small arms and light weapons. Prosperity will remain elusive “if we do not seriously take charge of our peace and security architecture”, he stressed. As Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), he spotlighted the need to prioritize preventive diplomacy and mediation in approaching crises and conflicts. On 6 February, the Government of the Central African Republic and 14 armed groups signed onto a historic peace agreement, an important first step towards peace. Meanwhile, in 2018, a landmark peace agreement was signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea, bringing hope for the Horn of Africa. In addition, he also drew attention to the important role of women negotiators and mediators in peacebuilding processes espoused by the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
STEFANO STEFANILE (Italy) said “a new wind of hope is blowing in Africa”, citing the historical rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea and peace agreements in South Sudan and in the Central African Republic. However, major threats and challenges to peace and security in Africa continue to exist, among them terrorism, transnational organized crime, violence against women and children in armed conflicts, poverty, underdevelopment and climate change. He commended the progress achieved in operationalizing the African Peace and Security Architecture and especially the Peace Fund of the African Union. Italy continues to support the use of United Nations assessed contributions to fund African-led peace operations.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) highlighted the importance of national and reginal ownership as well as harnessing the comparative advantages of regional economic structures, such as the ECOWAS and IGAD. Stronger cooperation and unity of purpose is essential for a conflict-free Africa, he said, stressing the need to reinforce the institutional partnerships between the United Nations and African Union in peace, security and development. In that regard, he welcomed the progress in advancing the organizations’ Joint Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security and Joint Framework on Sustainable Development. He called for a three-fold strategy to prevent and address conflicts through a security-development nexus, a regional approach and the United Nations “Delivering as One” approach. To contribute to United Nations development-system reforms, Kazakhstan proposes establishment of a United Nations centre in Almaty to advance the Sustainable Development Goals and looks forward to partnerships with African countries in that regard.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) noted that since the Silencing the Guns agenda was launched in 2013, concrete progress has been achieved. He highlighted the recent peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, revitalized peace agreements in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, and successful elections held in Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, “we should not stop there”, he said, drawing attention to persisting conflicts in some areas and emerging challenges. “No country is immune to these challenges,” he said. The African Union-United Nations partnership is built on the comparative advantages of each organization. His country, as chair of the African Union, will promote cooperation between the two entities. Funding African-led peace operations requires innovative methods by the Security Council. Egypt will open an African Centre for reconstruction and peacebuilding in 2019.
Mr. CAMILLERI, observer for the Holy See, appealed to people around the world to lay down the “instrument of death”. The winds of hope are blowing in Africa, with historic peace agreements taking shape and decades-long conflicts coming to an end. However, major challenges remain, including fundamentalist violence and other forms of conflict. “There might be a temptation to dismiss the African Union’s determination as unattainable, even utopian,” he said, warning that to do so would be defeatist. In that context, he called for efforts to address the most devastating causes of conflict, including social and economic disparities, weak institutions, political instability and corruption. The international community must fulfil its commitments, particularly on pledged responses to humanitarian emergencies and for regular development aid.
LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya) said his Government has been at the forefront in supporting and promoting the African Union’s master road map to silence the guns in Africa. Kenya has taken steps to stop the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and is in the process of implementing the United Nations action plan and its various protocols and regional mechanisms. To fully achieve the master road map, more resources must be allocated to address the root causes of conflict — including by strengthening relevant national governance institutions responsible for conflict prevention and promotion of socioeconomic development. The full participation of youth and women, civil society and other partners in fighting gun violence is crucial in addressing the proliferation and use of illegal weapons. Building African States’ capacity to fully implement their commitment to ratify international instruments is also very important. Africa's development partners must ensure trade in conventional weapons is properly regulated from source countries to curb unregulated arms flows into conflict zones of Africa. Adequate support is vital to help build resilient national institutions to regulate such flows.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said peace is not an abstract notion. Africa is doing its “long-sought after homework” by reshuffling its overall thinking, its resources and its mechanisms. It is regrouping its forces with the aim of thinking and acting together, at the regional and subregional levels, to face and confront its dire realities. “To reach a stage when guns are silenced means that we have to look to the social conditions, to the governance and to the well-being of the populations and this is not in the sole hands of Africans,” he said. Silencing the guns extends and calls for the international community’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, and to financing for development and disaster risk management. It is essential to address climate change and the exploitation of Africa’s natural resources. Africa needs outside support for African-devised solutions.
Mr. MOFADAL (Sudan) expressed his full support for all of the efforts of African States to offer African solutions to African problems. He underscored that the living embodiment of this can be seen in a number of African efforts. Sudan has made significant diplomatic efforts within the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) initiative for peace in South Sudan, which culminated in the 2018 signing of the Khartoum declaration. He also highlighted the continued extension of the cease fire throughout the country to create the environment for ongoing negotiations. In addition, he underscored the approval of several proposals presented by regional and international partners for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the areas under the control of the insurgent movements, as well as the national weapons collection campaign that has achieved great success in the stabilization and the protection of civilians.
ESHAGH AL HABIB (Iran) said that the fact that the five largest peacekeeping missions of the United Nations are deployed in Africa proves the importance the Organization gives to preserving and promoting peace and security on the continent. Likewise, the fact that more than half of the top 20 troop-contributing countries are African indicates that African countries are playing a decisive role in promoting international peace and security. This should be acknowledged and appreciated by the United Nations and the Security Council, and to ensure the continuation of such contributions by African countries and organizations, they should be assisted in preserving and promoting their ability to maintain peace and security in Africa and elsewhere. This is crucial as some African troop contributors and African Union peace operations are constrained in terms of financial resources and equipment, limiting their ability to respond to peace and security challenges. When it comes to assisting the African countries in the prevention of conflicts and the promotion of peace, one basic principle should be observed: African problems require African solutions, he said.
COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE (Botswana) said indicators from comprehensive inequality studies by competent bodies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have identified ungoverned territories that serve as hotspots, big income gaps, and multidimensional poverty as among the factors driving conflicts in Africa. The continent is home to many middle-income economies, including his own, and a large youth population which, if properly harnessed, constitutes a key demographic dividend for fostering sustainable growth. However, dissatisfied groups, including youth, could make the wrong choice of resorting to arms. A mix of prudent measures — ranging from leveraging the potential of technological innovations and investing in proper education — are essential to create an enabling environment for peace. Moreover, Africa must manage minerals effectively, he said, drawing attention to the forthcoming Kimberly Process-driven General Assembly discussions on the role of diamonds in fuelling conflict and action on a draft resolution later in the week.
JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola) said the spread of violent extremism and terrorism in Africa and myriad humanitarian crises are the most pressing challenges facing the continent. It is therefore imperative to address the root causes of the conflicts, namely State fragility and weak State institutions, the illicit arms trade, the effects of rapid urbanization and youth unemployment. To increase the chance of successful voluntary civilian disarmament, and to eradicate non-State armed groups, Governments must operate within a framework of good governance, rule of law and respect for human rights. The international community must be able to deal more effectively and severely with countries that deliberately arm non-State actors which aim to undermine democratically elected Governments. The Government of Angola is committed to Agenda 2063 and to building interlocking institutions to facilitate the process. He also stressed the need to address climate change and the potential for conflict over depleting land and water resources.
ROBERT MARDINI, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), agreed with other speakers that conventional arms are poorly regulated and widely available, resulting in a culture of violence while undermining the rule of law and threatening reconciliation efforts. Citing the role of such weapons in the conflicts in the Lake Chad Basin, Libya and South Sudan, he said humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC work to bring much-needed relief to many places in Africa and elsewhere. “But aid alone cannot solve the underlying causes of this immense suffering,” s/he stressed, calling on Member States to act to silence the guns by ensuring responsible arms trade and preventing the diversion of weapons to the illicit market. In that context, he voiced support for solid frameworks such as ECOWAS and the Kinshasa Convention, and at the global level the Arms Trade Treaty, to provide a blueprint for reducing human suffering.
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal) said that the framework is already in place to address conflict and other challenges in Africa, including the African Peace and Security Architecture, alongside instruments such as the African Governance Architecture and Agenda 2063, which provide a solid regional basis and complement the existing multilateral framework. Security measures alone will not be effective if they are not accompanied by an effort to achieve social inclusion. Alongside more traditional threats, Africa also feels the strain of global challenges like climate change, water and food insecurity, pandemics, terrorism and transnational organized crime. Therefore, it is important to tackle the root causes of conflict by fighting poverty and promoting development.
ION JINGA (Romania), associating himself with the European Union, underscored the importance of the African Union-United Nations strategic partnership and of trilateral cooperation among the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union. Romania welcomes a tailored approach with African solutions for African problems as its guiding principle. Conflict prevention is vital, including by promoting an enhanced regional approach in the Peacebuilding Commission’s work, as are mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and post-conflict recovery and reconstruction. He underscored the role of natural resources, particularly diamonds, in fueling conflicts, adding: “I believe it is high time to switch forever the paradigm from blood diamonds to peace diamonds.” The full participation of women and young people remains fundamental, as does increasing opportunities for young Africans through scholarships for higher education and training programs for professionals.
SAADA DAHER HASSAN (Djibouti), associating herself with the African Group and the Arab Group, said conflict and violence are without a doubt the biggest threats to implementing the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. She called for greater investment in conflict prevention and mediation, and emphasized the role to be played by women, youth, traditional leaders and faith-based organizations in peace initiatives. Welcoming rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, she reaffirmed Djibouti’s commitment to negotiate — in good faith — an end to its 11-year border dispute with Eritrea through bilateral engagement, mediation or binding international arbitration, with the Security Council playing an oversight role as set out in resolution 2444 (2018). “We should endeavour to keep the positive momentum and not allow the conflict to fester,” she said.
VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda) said that silencing the guns in Africa is an ambitious yet achievable goal which may be reached through integrated approaches that extend across the nexus of peace and security, governance and development. Success will require greater policy coherence and political commitment; the African Union’s road map is also an important framework which will contribute to a continent free of violent conflicts. Recent positive developments of conflict resolution in the Horn of Africa and the recent peace agreements in South Sudan and Central African Republic are important but have yet to result in the voluntary disarmament of armed groups. Preventive diplomacy and mediation are integral to broader conflict prevention efforts. She called for dedicated action to prevent conflict by focusing on its various structural causes, including by strengthening institutions and social mechanisms. Demobilization, disarmament and reintegration must be carried out at all stages of conflict resolution. The illicit proliferation and possession of small arms and light weapons in Africa, including in countries subjected to Council arms sanctions, contribute to the perpetuation of armed conflicts there.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), underscoring the instrumental role of regional organizations, said her country’s membership in the European Union played a key role in putting her island nation on the road to ending violent conflict. “We know from our own experience in Ireland that when women get involved [in peace processes], things get done,” she added. Bridging the peace-security-humanitarian nexus should be a key part of the United Nations partnership with the African Union, she said, reaffirming also her country’s support for the Secretary-General’s disarmament initiative.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali) said that, in order to silence the guns, good governance in the management of public and local affairs is essential. States must promote national unity and diversity. “This is how we can strengthen the legitimacy of States in the eyes of our citizens,” he added. Inclusive sustainable development is critical, particularly of food, water, security and employment. Most Africans are young and they need adequate jobs. “We must be the bringers of a message of peace and national cohesion in both words and deeds,” he said. In the face of eminent and real threats, Mali has no choice but to secure itself against terrorist groups and drug and human traffickers. “We must strengthen cooperation between States,” he added, welcoming the adoption of today’s resolution.
MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), associating herself with the African Group, said much more needs to be done to put her continent firmly on the path of achieving peace and security targets. Existential threats, including terrorism and climate change, must be tackled to consolidate gains made so far. Emphasizing the importance of partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, she called for the predictable, sustainable and flexible financing for peace operations, including those approved by the Council and led by the African Union. Reaffirming the role of women and youth, she said that strengthening the rule of law, democracy and good governance, accountable institutions, access to justice and respect for human rights should be at the core of peacebuilding efforts.
RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada) recalled that, in the past, the international community approached the problem of firearms the same way they did other weapons — including nuclear and biological ones — namely, through broad global agreements. Expressing support for that kind of multilateral approach, he said all stakeholders must work together to support African ownership of tailored, context‑specific responses to conflict. “We have seen this approach deliver results,” he said, spotlighting the recent signing of the Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic as one example.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said the devastating impact of the illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons can be seen in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and elsewhere. Highlighting the importance of the Arms Trade Treaty, he said the relapse into conflict will remain a paramount risk if the weapons situation is not dealt with. He went on to emphasize the important role of security sector governance in preventing conflict and sustaining peace.
RAUF ALP DENKTAŞ (Turkey) said that peacekeeping is an area where the collaboration between the United Nations and the African Union is most visible, while the restoration and maintenance of peace in Africa remains challenging. The positive effects of a tangible cooperation between the two organizations have been seen several times. Nowhere is this more evident than in Somalia, where the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), working in collaboration with the Somali National Armed Forces, has created the political space and enabling environment in which Somalia is laying the groundwork to recover and advance towards stability. The international community must be vigilant to protect the hard-fought gains and investments in post-conflict areas recovering from devastating wars.
SAMI BOUGACHA (Tunisia), associating himself with the African Group and the Arab Group, said today’s Council resolution is a strong sign of support for the African Union and the continent’s leadership in managing conflict. The African Union has the resources, the mechanisms and the political will required to work with the Council. Resolving the root causes is key to immunizing peoples and countries from conflict, he said, emphasizing the role of sustainable and inclusive development, democracy, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and the participation of women and young people in all areas. He added that substantial reforms undertaken by the United Nations and the African Union demonstrate a shared vision in adapting institutions to evolving challenges.
AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea) said that “silencing guns” requires political will to reclaim the priorities and the narration of the continent. Nations of the continent must have the political space to chart their own development and political paths. “What Africa needs is less external interventions and more partnerships,” he added. Moreover, the United Nations needs to revisit its approaches and interventions in Africa. “There is a need for a paradigm shift,” he emphasized. The Horn of Africa region is one example which experienced decades of human suffering as a result of conflicts, with peace having been elusive for too many of its people. Yet, in recent months, the historic peace deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia has resulted in rapid positive changes. The peace has, so far, resulted in the opening of borders, movement of people and the resumption of trade. “The citizens of the Horn of Africa have embarked on an arduous journey of transforming the region,” he said.
CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea) said confronting Africa’s increasingly complex peace and security challenges is a task that no one country or organization can take on alone. More effective division of labour between the United Nations, regional organizations and other stakeholders, and closer agenda alignment between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, can help lead to effective and durable joint action, he said, adding that sustainable and predictable funding for African Union-led peace operations will enhance their effectiveness. He called for greater efforts to address the root causes of conflict, which, in Africa, are often driven by poverty, inequality and human rights violations. Regarding small arms and light weapons, he said no effort must be spared to fully implement United Nations arms embargoes, as well as international and regional instruments. Noting that today’s Council debate coincides with a significant effort in Hanoi towards a nuclear-free and peaceful Korean Peninsula, he said regional peace initiatives in different parts of the world can draw inspiration from each other.
ESHETE TILAHUN WOLDEYES (Ethiopia) said Africa is hosting major conflicts that have threatened local, national and continental security and tested the ability of the international community to end them. The signing of the revitalized peace agreement between the South Sudanese parties has renewed optimism for ending the fighting in the country for the past five years. The rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea has not only ended the long‑standing “no war, no peace” situation between the two countries, but also heralded a new era of regional peace and stability. “Our two countries are working on solidifying the recent gains by taking concrete steps,” he said. As the United Nations and African Union have recognized, these positive developments represent a significant milestone with far-reaching consequences. He also welcomed developments in Central Africa and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for advancing the continent’s commitment to peace.
ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil), emphasizing the primacy of politics, said regional actors can play a decisive role in facilitating discussions and bridging positions between conflicting parties. He underlined the important role of women in conflict prevention, resolution and peacebuilding, adding that heeding the calls of youth and civil society can also contribute to more inclusive and durable peace agreements. “When peace dividends are concretely experienced by local communities, the chances of a relapse into conflict fall considerably,” he added. Recalling Brazil’s experience in the Guinea-Bissau configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, he said communities that have experienced conflict often have pressing reconstruction and development needs and can therefore benefit greatly from sustained international support.
The full text of resolution 2457 (2019) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security as well as its commitment to uphold the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the United Nations,
“Recalling that the prevention of conflict remains a primary responsibility of States, and further recalling their responsibility to protect civilians and to respect human rights, as provided for by relevant international law, and further reaffirming the responsibility of each individual State to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity,
“Recalling in this regard its previous Presidential Statements and resolutions concerning the various factors and causes that play a role in triggering, worsening or prolonging conflicts in Africa,
“Expressing concern over conflicts in different geographic areas, and reiterating that the United Nations’ cooperation with regional and sub-regional organizations is critical to contributing to the prevention of the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict, in line with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter,
“Noting that Africa still faces enormous challenges, including: governance deficits, economic difficulties, high rates of unemployment, the mismanagement of ethnic diversity, competition over power and resources, state fragility and weak state institutions, ungoverned spaces which leave room for illegal activities, the continued flow of weapons into the continent and their illicit circulation, mercenary activity, insurgencies and rebellions, inadequate border monitoring and control that facilitates transnational organized crime, illicit exploitation of natural resources, continued crisis that precipitate irregular migration, corruption, illicit financial flows which facilitate funding for illegal activities, climate change and natural disasters, and slow processes in the ratification of AU instruments and policies,
“Reaffirming the need to address the multidimensional nature of peace and security challenges facing African countries emerging from conflict, and emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive and integrated approach for peace building and sustaining peace, with a view to preventing them from relapsing into conflict,
“Gravely concerned that the illicit trade, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in many regions of the world, including Africa, continue to pose threats to international peace and security, cause significant loss of life, contribute to instability and insecurity,
“Recalling in this regard all international, regional and sub-regional instruments addressing the illicit trade, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Africa, including the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Lights Weapons in All Its Aspects, and its relevant resolutions, which contribute to conflict prevention in Africa,
“Noting that in some armed conflict situations, the illicit exploitation, trafficking, and illicit trade of natural resources has contributed to the outbreak, escalation or continuation of such conflicts and further noting the resolutions adopted and sanctions measures taken on this issue to support the prevention of illegal exploitation of natural resources, particularly timber, so-called “conflict minerals” like tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, as well as diamonds, cobalt, charcoal and wildlife from fueling armed conflicts, and encouraging the AU member states to promote the transparent and lawful management of natural resources, including the adoption of government revenue targets to finance development, sustainable regulatory and customs frameworks, and responsible mineral sourcing supply chain due diligence,
“Noting that the African Union is implementing an institutional reform agenda aimed at ensuring greater effectiveness and efficiency and further noting the potential of these reforms to strengthen the African Union and allow the organization to partner more effectively with the United Nations in addressing the peace and security challenges on the continent,
“Noting the measures so far taken and in course towards the implementation of the goal of Silencing the Guns in Africa by the African Union as well as other relevant stakeholders, and further noting the adoption, implementation and reporting on the African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020, in the context of the simultaneous implementation of the African Peace and Security Architecture and the African Governance Architecture,
“Welcoming the decision by the African Union Peace and Security Council to declare September of each year until 2020 Africa Amnesty Month for the surrender of illegally owned weapons and arms,
“Noting that achieving the goal of Silencing the Guns in Africa will contribute significantly to saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war, and further noting that the African Union’s efforts as outlined in its Agenda 2063 to ensure an integrated, peaceful, secure and prosperous Africa and lay a solid foundation for inclusive growth and sustainable development is closely aligned with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,
“Noting the aspirations of peace, security and stability in Africa and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) constitute shared priorities as outlined in the two Joint United Nations-African Union Frameworks for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, Africa’s Agenda 2063, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,
“Reaffirming the importance of supporting the African Union Agenda 2063, as a strategic vision and an action plan for ensuring a positive socioeconomic transformation in Africa by 2063, and acknowledges the emphasis in Agenda 2063 on peace and security as critical enablers for sustainable development,
“Taking note of the African Union's continued efforts to operationalize its policy on post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD), including its relevant initiatives particularly the African Solidarity Initiative (ASI) and further takes note of the decisions of the Assembly AU/Dec.351(XVI) of January 2011 and AU/Dec.710 (XXXI) of June 2018 on the establishment of the African Union Center for Post‑Conflict Reconstruction and Development (AU-PCRD) in Cairo,
“Recalling the discussion that took place during the 12th annual consultation between members of the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council on 19 July 2018 on the African Union’s goal of Silencing the Guns in Africa by the year 2020, and the exchange of views on possible cooperation in the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020,
“Recalling resolutions 2320 (2016) and 2378 (2017), acknowledging the need to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council and utilized pursuant to Chapter VIII of the Charter,
“Welcoming the progress made on the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, which has been characterized by closer collaboration, joint field visits by senior officials, more regular exchanges of information, deeper consultations, increasingly coordinated action, and greater collaboration between the Secretariat and the Commission,
“1. Welcomes the African Union’s determination to rid Africa of conflicts and create conditions favorable for the growth, development and integration of the continent as encapsulated in its goal of Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020 and its Master Roadmap outlining practical steps that underpin the actions necessary for its attainment of the goal of a conflict-free Africa by 2020;
“2. Takes note of the African Union’s effort to advance Africa’s political, social and economic integration agenda and to the ideal of pan-Africanism and African renaissance, as well as the pledge to “end all wars in Africa by 2020” and “achieve the goal of a conflict-free Africa”, as affirmed in the solemn declaration adopted on 26 May 2013 on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Organization of African Unity/African Union, and expresses its readiness to contribute, and calls upon all, in particular relevant United Nations entities, as appropriate, to help to achieve this goal;
“3. Acknowledges that the building of a conflict free Africa essentially rests on the African Union, its Member States, their people and their institutions, including their civil society and expresses support for initiatives aimed at finding African solutions to African problems, while also recognizing the need for international cooperation and partnership to help accelerate progress towards the realization of this continental goal;
“4. Takes note of the ongoing efforts of the African Union and the sub-regional organizations, within the framework of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) to strengthen their capacity and undertake peace support operations in the continent, in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability, and encourages the UN Secretariat and the African Union Commission to collaborate towards strengthening the APSA by supporting the APSA road map and silencing the guns master roadmap and their respective work plans;
“5. Takes note of the efforts by the African Union on combating the transnational threats of terrorism in Africa consistent with international human rights law, international refugee law, international humanitarian law and taking into account gender perspectives; underscores the need for a sustained, cooperative and coordinated approach to countering terrorism, and, in this regard, welcomes the ongoing cooperation with the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) and notes the engagement by the Office of Counter-Terrorism with African Union counterparts on collaboration and capacity-building support in relation to counter-terrorism and countering violent extremism conducive to terrorism in the context of the joint UN-AU framework for enhanced partnership in the area of peace and security;
“6. Expresses concern over the challenging security situation in parts of Africa, notably threats posed by terrorism, maritime piracy, tensions between pastoralists and farmer communities, subversive mercenary activities, transnational organized crime, which can include illicit trafficking in persons, arms, drugs, and natural resources, and the persistent violence perpetrated by insurgents, rebel, and armed groups, and, in this regard, encourages enhancement of border control, management, and cooperation measures;
“7. Emphasizes the valuable contribution of African Union’s mediation capacities, and of regional and sub-regional organizations, to ensuring the coherence, synergy and collective effectiveness of their efforts, and encourages greater cooperation and collaboration with the Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts in Africa, including the possibility of fielding of joint mediation teams in response to conflict and crisis situation in the continent;
“8. Encourages the United Nations and the African Union to strengthen their efforts to coordinate their engagement in a mutually supportive manner, across the range of possible responses to conflict – from prevention and mediation to peacekeeping and peacebuilding to post-conflict recovery and development in line with their joint framework for enhanced partnership in peace and security particularly in ensuring effective implementation of peace agreements by warring parties to conflict, and in this regard, stresses the need to continue enhancing strategic dialogue, partnerships, more regular exchange of views, analyses and information at the working level to build capacities in relation to the preventive diplomacy tools, invigorate and engage potential and existing capacities and capabilities, particularly through United Nations regional political offices, contribute to the coherence and integration of their preventive diplomacy efforts, inter alia, through mediation and the Secretary-General’s Good Offices, as appropriate;
“9. Underscores the importance of the two joint UN-AU partnership frameworks in galvanizing concrete and practical system and commission wide support towards helping Africa make tangible progress towards achieving its goal of creating a conflict free continent and expresses its readiness to support the implementation of the African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by year 2020;
“10. Acknowledges the memorandum of understanding signed between the United Nations and the African Union to strengthen cooperation in support of efforts aimed at peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Africa; reaffirms the primary responsibility of national governments and authorities in identifying, driving and directing priorities, strategies and activities for peacebuilding and sustaining peace; emphasizes the importance of partnership and cooperation between the United Nations and relevant regional and sub-regional organizations, including the African Union, to improve cooperation and coordination in peacebuilding, to increase synergies and ensure the coherence and complementarity of such efforts, and in this regard, welcomes the holding of regular exchanges of views, joint initiatives, and information sharing between the Peacebuilding Support Office and the African Union Commission and the African Union Peace and Security Council and encourages the Peacebuilding Commission to hold exchanges of views, as appropriate, with relevant regional and sub-regional organizations, including the African Union in line with resolutions 1645 (2005) and 2282 (2016);
“11. Notes the importance of consultations between the Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council in their respective decision making processes and common strategies for a holistic response to conflict, as appropriate, based on respective comparative advantage, burden sharing, joint analysis and planning missions and assessment visits by the UN and AU, monitoring and evaluation, transparency and accountability, to address common security challenges in Africa in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, including Chapter VIII and the Purposes and principles;
“12. Welcomes the African Union decision to reaffirm Africa as a nuclear free zone and stresses the need for full implementation of existing international, regional and sub-regional instruments addressing the illicit trade, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons in Africa, 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 its relevant resolutions, which contribute to conflict prevention in Africa;
“13. Underlines the need for effective implementation of relevant arms control and disarmament instruments and regimes as well as arm embargoes imposed by the United Nations Security Council and welcomes efforts to assist Member States as well as intergovernmental, regional and sub-regional organizations such as the African Union in capacity-building to prevent and address the illicit trade in, and destabilizing accumulation and misuse of, small arms and light weapons, and encourages African states to safeguard national stockpiles of weapons to prevent their illicit diversion;
“14. Notes the UN partnership with the AU in the field of peacekeeping, including by supporting the AU’s efforts to develop AU policy, guidance and training in particular in the areas of security sector reform, post-conflict reconstruction and development, women, peace and security, and youth, peace and security;
“15. Reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peacebuilding as well as in post-conflict situations, as recognized in relevant Security Council resolutions including 1325 (2000) and resolution 2242 (2015) and welcomes in this regard the roles of “FemWise-Africa”, Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation and the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), emphasizes also the need for joint action between the UN and AU to end sexual violence in armed conflict and post-conflict situations, stresses the importance of the full implementation of the measures for the prevention and response to Conflict-related Sexual Violence in relevant Security Council resolutions and welcomes the Secretary-General’s continued efforts to implement and reinforce the United Nations zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse;
“16. Reaffirms the important and positive contribution of youth to the efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security and the role young people play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and as a key aspect of the sustainability, inclusiveness and success of peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts, as well as in post-conflict situations and It also encourages all those involved in the planning for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration to consider the needs of youth affected by armed conflict, including the problem of youth unemployment in the continent, by investing in building young person’s capabilities and skills to meet labor demands through relevant education opportunities designed in a manner which promotes a culture of peace;
“17. Recognizes in particular that a strong focus is needed on combatting poverty, deprivation and inequality to prevent and protect children from all violations and abuses in particular in the context of armed conflict and to promote the resilience of children, their families and their communities, and the importance of promoting education for all and peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development and further emphasizes the importance of giving due consideration to child protection issues from the early stages of all peace processes, in particular the integration of child protection provisions, as well as of peace agreements that put strong emphasis on the best interest of the child, the treatment of children separated from armed groups as victims and focus on family and community-based reintegration;
“18. Recognizes the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters, among other factors, on the stability of a number of AU Member States, including through drought, desertification, land degradation and food insecurity, and emphasizes the need for adequate risk assessment and risk management strategies by the respective governments and the United Nations relating to these factors;
“19. Calls upon AU Member States to enhance good governance, including the elimination of corruption, strengthening of democratic institutions, respect for human rights, and accountability and to redouble their efforts in economic development and the promotion of the well-being of their people with a view to addressing the root causes of conflicts and laying a solid foundation for durable peace and stability; and further encourages all AU member states to sign, ratify and domesticate all AU initiatives related to the promotion of democracy, human rights and good governance and promote universal application through the continent as requested in the latest AU Summit communique regarding the implementation of the Silencing the Guns Agenda in the continent;
“20. Reaffirms its determination to take action against illicit exploitation and trafficking of natural resources and high-value commodities in areas where it contributes to the outbreak, escalation or continuation of armed conflict in Africa and encourages AU Member States to strengthen their regulatory mechanisms on the exploitation and management of natural resources and to ensure that the proceeds from these resources are utilized in meeting the basic needs of their people, with a view to promoting equitable development and distribution of benefits;
“21. Reiterates its intention to consider steps that can be taken to enhance practical cooperation with the African Union in the promotion and maintenance of peace and security in Africa in line with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter;
“22. Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, when appropriate, to provide updates on implementation measures towards enhancing the support of the United Nations and its agencies to the African Union in the implementation of Vision 2020 to Silence the Guns in Africa, including as part of his Report on Strengthening the Partnership between the United Nations and the African Union on Issues of Peace and Security in Africa.”