‘Africa Knows Best’, Delegates Stress, Urging More Investment, Support for Nationally Led Strategies to Tackle Continent’s Challenges
Highlighting the links between effective governance, peace, security and development in Africa, speakers urged greater international investment and support for nationally led efforts, stressing “Africa knows best” how to resolve its own problems, as the Security Council concluded a two-day open debate on stopping violence and building the capacity for peace and growth on the continent.
Bankole Adeoye, African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, said that Africa’s scorecard on governance, peace and security performance “has mixed results”. While its partnerships with the United Nations for peacekeeping and peacebuilding are well-articulated, the adverse effects of climate change threaten the livelihoods of millions in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, and the continent “bleeds from illicit financial flows”. Given what Africa faces today in terms of defeating terrorism and violent extremism, the international community must further develop the required capacity for peace enforcement, with a focus on the role of youth and women and transformative leadership between the United Nations Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council through both military and whole-of-society approaches.
Cristina Duarte, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, outlined factors — such as the COVID-19 pandemic, corruption and non-inclusive planning and budgeting — that hinder African countries’ ability to provide effective, efficient public services. Curbing illicit financial flows would generate the same amount of revenue as official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) together, while also addressing a main source of financing for transnational crime and terrorism. Investing in institutional and security infrastructure and closer cooperation with national and local authorities can prevent gaps exploited by terrorist groups and non-State actors, including to capture children. On that point, she noted the Organization’s “A pen for a gun” education initiative, which promotes social cohesion and peace on the continent.
Likewise, Muhammad Abdul Muhith (Bangladesh), Chair of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, said it is critical to support nationally owned and led efforts to build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. African regions have shown greater interest in consulting with the Commission to expand and strengthen their capacities for peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Citing examples, he said the Government of the Central African Republic has prioritized the fight against impunity, including convening criminal sessions and the creation of a rapid response unit to investigate sexual and gender-based violence. He highlighted progress in gender equality in Liberia and the Burundi Government’s promotion of youth in socioeconomic development; and further cited efforts by the Lake Chad Basin Commission to support governors in Basin areas affected by Boko Haram to articulate their locally owned initiative, the Territorial Action Plans.
In the ensuing debate, Council Member States and other States’ representatives stressed that Africa must generate its own institutions, strategies and remedies to fight terrorism, emerge from and prevent conflict — while calling on the international community to honour its financing responsibilities and commitments for both peace and security, and development.
Thailand’s representative affirmed that “with regard to Africa, Africa knows best” — calling for stronger attention to their priorities and African-driven processes culminating in domestic solutions. Expressing support for the close cooperation between the Council and Africa, he said particular attention must be paid to the views of its African members in relevant deliberations. Moreover, the United Nations and the international community must continue to provide support from peacekeeping operations to peacebuilding missions.
Rwanda’s delegate cited that country’s anguished violent past when, after the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, there were no adequately functioning systems and people had low to no trust in Government institutions. Rwanda's rebirth relied on its homegrown solutions, including Gacaca courts and mediation committees in its justice system. Gacaca Jurisdiction handled over 1.6 million cases of genocide perpetrators in 10 years, something that could have taken hundreds of years for classic courts. The Peacebuilding Commission is therefore essential.
Kenya’s delegate stressed that Africa’s energetic and young population, its abundance of resources and its diversity can catapult the continent into an immense driver of global peace and prosperity. The African Union’s Agenda 2063 is a blueprint to transform Africa into a global economic and political powerhouse, including the successful implementation of the “Silencing the Guns” road map for peace, and the Continental Free Trade Area for prosperity. However, in almost all African regions, militant and terrorist groups are challenging States and destroying many innocent lives.
Echoing that sentiment, Gabon’s delegate noted that, in hot spots in the Great Lakes region, it is essential to take a holistic approach that includes the root causes of conflict, peacebuilding activities and post-conflict reconstruction. A sustainable peace process must provide education, poverty eradication and jobs for young people in order to shield them from the ills of society. It is the international community’s responsibility to support States and regional organizations in implementing strategies to strengthen their political, social and economic institutions, along with international financing.
India’s delegate concurred, stressing that African countries — much like the majority of the global South — suffer from a historical disadvantage in institutional capacity due to their colonial past. “No one can know Africa better than Africans themselves,” he emphasized, and capacity-building in critical areas such as education, health, agriculture and infrastructure “is the need of the hour”. While the Council focuses more than half of its work exclusively on Africa, the systematic exclusion of those States from permanent Council membership “is a blot on our collective credibility”.
Canada’s representative affirmed that national ownership is crucial to building and sustaining peace, citing Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. Worryingly, some Governments are undertaking actions which risk undermining the United Nations ability to support their efforts to sustain peace. He further cited the African Union Commissioner’s warning that climate change represents a clear threat to peace and security in Africa, while rising food insecurity, exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions on the continent.
Sounding a note of optimism, the representative of Norway emphasized that — notwithstanding the Black Sea Grain Initiative — “Africa has its own potential to become the world’s breadbasket” and ensure that food-related items are available at reasonable prices. The long-term solution is increased investment in food production and resilience in Africa alongside humanitarian efforts. Greater political support from Member States is needed, as is predictable, sustainable and flexible funding. “Signing peace agreements does not alone bring peace,” he stated, emphasizing that political will is key to addressing the root causes and drivers of conflict.
Also speaking were the representatives of China, Ireland, Mexico, United Kingdom, Brazil, United States, Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, Ghana, Albania, France, Senegal, Switzerland, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Algeria, Republic of Korea, Poland, Germany, Malta, Portugal, Ecuador, Mozambique, Denmark (also for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Morocco, Slovenia, Ethiopia, Slovakia, Australia, Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Ukraine, Argentina and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union.
The meeting began on Monday, 8 August, at 10:03 a.m. and suspended 1:17 p.m. It resumed on Tuesday, 9 August, at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 5:29 p.m.