The participants pose for a photograph after the opening ceremony of the retreat
ACCORD continues its collaboration with the African Union in efforts to bring peace to the continent.
The solid partnership that ACCORD continues to share with the African Union (AU) recently flourished at the 5th Annual High-Level Retreat of Special Envoys and Mediators on the Promotion of Peace Security and Stability in Africa. Themed ‘Silencing the Guns – Owning the Future,’ the Retreat was held in the Tanzanian city of Arusha from 21-23 October 2014. The Retreat was organised by the AU and hosted by the government of the United Republic of Tanzania. ACCORD and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) provided technical support to the event.
The Retreat brought together, senior representatives of the AU Commission and AU Special Envoys and Representatives; Members and Friends of the Panel of the Wise, senior representatives of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)/Regional Mechanisms (RMs), as well as eminent personalities from the UN, the League of Arab State, the European Union (EU) and bilateral partners and civil society organisations.
Africa has been reported to be the fasted growing region in the world in recent times. Indeed, of the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world by GDP, eight African countries featured on the list in 2012 and five in 2013 respectively. This growth has been accompanied by a growing middle class and increased foreign direct investment. There is however a paradox of this glowing image. This unprecedented economic growth is accompanied by growing levels of inequality, that in recent years have resulted in a resurgence of violence on the continent. The discussions at the Retreat highlighted that this is due in large part to a crisis of governance characterised by contestation around elections, the growth of social exclusion, the persistence of identity politics and corruption, as well as the rise of violent radical extremism. The aforementioned paradox presents immense risks to sustainable peace, security and development in the continent. It is against this background that the AU convened the aforementioned Retreat so as to avail an opportunity for collective multi-stakeholder deliberations on threats and emerging challenges that need to be addressed in order to silence the guns and achieve a war-free continent by 2020 as committed to by AU Member States.
The Retreat was marked by the Arusha Declaration on Silencing the Guns – Owning the Future that noted the importance of good governance and functional democracy in preventing and effectively managing conflicts. The Declaration also underscored the fact that most conflicts in Africa occurred due to deficiencies in ensuring accountable, transparent and inclusive governance systems as well as addressing the challenges of poverty and inequality. Pertinent recommendations were also made, key among them, the need for active involvements of all segments of society into the efforts aimed at silencing the guns by 2020, given that the promotion of peace, security and stability is not the preserve of governments and international organisations only.
ACCORD’s Peacemaking unit focuses on building the conflict resolution capacity of societal leaders, politicians, and other key actors. Strategies adopted by the Peacemaking programme include the facilitation of peaceful dialogue and support of mediation among participants. Such approaches have been shown to have led to an overall reduction in violent conflict across Africa over time, illustrating the effectiveness and necessity of such programmes.
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