COVID-19 In-depth Analysis

Working in unity towards Silencing the Guns in Africa

The contributions at the 14th Extra-Ordinary Summit on Silencing the Guns served to reaffirm the commitment of the current leadership of the continent to the moral and political duty given to us by our forebears to achieve an Africa free of conflict. The summit was able to answer some critical questions on the actions we must now take to advance this responsibility, including in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Photo:GCIS
Photo:GCIS

The AU Master Roadmap on Practical Steps to Silence the Guns clearly outlines the outcomes we seek to achieve as a continent.  It is therefore appropriate that we reiterate our commitment to extend the Master Roadmap for the next ten years, while we also continue to declare September of each year as Africa Amnesty Month. 

We must work to address the emerging threat of food insecurity on the continent, which has been worsened by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic @CyrilRamaphosa #silencingtheguns

We have welcomed with appreciation and adopted the report of the Chairperson of the AU Commission.  We will use its recommendations as the foundation of our mission to silence the guns.   It is of great concern to all of us that incidents of conflicts are intensifying and spreading to all regions of the continent.  Conflict, political instability and insecurity continue to be major threats to the realisation of the ‘Africa We Want’.

The proliferation of small arms and light weapons and illicit financial flows are among the factors contributing to both traditional and non-traditional threats to states and human security on our continent. As conflicts escalate, they leave behind a sad trail of displacement and humanitarian crisis. Violent conflict invites undesirable and opportunistic intervention from outside the continent.  This undermines the sovereignty of African states and serves to advance the interests of others at the expense of Africans.  Inspired by the vision of Agenda 2063, we need to redouble our efforts and act in unity of purpose and determination to overcome the root causes of conflict on our continent. 

Countries of the continent need to work together, as a collective, if we are to make any meaningful progress towards the creation of the Africa we want.  Our deliberations at the Extra-Ordinary Summit underscored the need to capacitate our institutions. In particular, we need to improve the implementation and coordination of the African Peace and Security Architecture and the African Governance Architecture for quick and adequate responses to conflict and instability. 

To build lasting peace, we need to create inclusive multi-sectoral programmes that address the economic, social and environmental causes of conflict, along with their racial, ethnic, gender and spatial dimensions.  This is why we must, among other things, work to address the emerging threat of food insecurity on the continent, which has been worsened by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Most importantly, we have underscored the nexus between peace, human security and development.

To build lasting peace, we need to create inclusive multi-sectoral programmes that address the economic, social and environmental causes of conflict, along with their racial, ethnic, gender and spatial dimensions @CyrilRamaphosa #silencingtheguns #silencingtheguns

We have highlighted the tragic paradox of a rich Africa inhabited by poor Africans. Africa has the youngest population in the world.  But our young people are held back by violence and conflict, by poverty and lack of opportunities to use their talents and ingenuity.  Unless we harness their potential, they may become increasingly susceptible to recruitment into armed conflict and terrorism. 

Women are also held back by violence and conflict.  We need to advance regional and global efforts to transform the conditions that women and girls experience in conflict as central to the agenda of silencing the guns.  Protecting women’s right to safety in conflict and non-conflict situations is fundamental to wider sustainable human development in areas afflicted by conflict.

The coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area in January 2021 is both an opportunity and a compelling reason to silence the guns. Greater intra-African trade and industrialisation will contribute to peace, just as peace will contribute to greater economic development.    

In conclusion, I wish to call upon all Member States to support, through implementation in their respective countries, the decisions and the declaration that have been adopted by the summit to ensure that we fulfil our objective of silencing the guns in Africa.  Accordingly, we have heard what we need to do to eliminate conflicts on the continent, which has been worsened by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it is the time to translate our words into action. Working in unity and with collective determination, I have no doubt that we will end all conflict on our continent and the African cause shall triumph. 

H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa is the President of the Republic of South Africa and Chair of the African Union

ACCORD recognizes its longstanding partnerships with the European Union, and the Governments of Canada, Finland, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, UK, and USA.

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