Welcoming the participants, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia, Honourable Harry Kabala, MP and Her Excellency Susan Sikaneta, Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia expressed delights in hosting the retreat and wished them a pleasant stay.
Delivering his opening remarks, the Chair for the AU Peace and Security Council Retreat, His Excellency Osman Keh Kamara, Ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the Africa Union and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia thanked his colleagues, Her Excellency Susan Sikaneta for initiating the idea of hosting the retreat in Lusaka. He further extended gratitude to His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, the Government and People of the Republic of Zambia for the warm hospitality accorded them since their arrival in Lusaka. The Chair informed the meeting that the purpose of the retreat was to discuss modalities relating to the theme, adding “If we fail to silence the guns on the continent our hope for Agenda 2063 will remain a myth.”
Concluding his remark, the Chairperson reiterated that the deliberations based on open mindedness during the retreat would render the region a turning point towards peace and prosperity.
Next to take the floor was the Secretary to the Commission Dr. Kambudzi who represented the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui.
In his statement he informed the meeting that once the master roadmap for silencing the guns by 2020 had been considered and adopted by Heads of State and Government, there would be a need to institute elaborate public information and outreach campaign involving all partners at political, institutional, civil society and community levels, thereby encouraging all citizens to play a part in achieving this noble goal.
Dr. Kambudzi noted that “silencing the guns will involve more than just collecting and destroying arms but to a large extent, will entail creating and developing a culture of peace among our people and a strategic shift in the way Africa manages its affairs.”
Declaring the retreat open, His Excellency, President Lungu commended the AU PSC for assuming a locomotive role towards silencing the guns on the continent by setting in motion the master roadmap for the implementation of concrete and practical steps towards achieving this goal.
The President expressed Zambia’s continued commitment towards the fight against conflicts and violence in the region. He called on Member States not to relent in finding solutions to the current unstable peace and security in the African, which he described as unacceptable.
The outcome of the retreat will be submitted, as part of the Report of the Peace and Security Council on its activities and the state of Peace and Security in Africa to the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the January 2017 Summit, for consideration.
The retreat will officially come to an end on Wednesday, 9th November, 2016.
See below the statement delivered by Ambassador Kamara.
STATEMENT DELIVERED BY H.E. AMBASSADOR OSMAN KEH KAMARA, THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE AND CHAIRPERSON OF THE retreat of the peace and security council OF THE AFRICAN UNION ON PRACTICAL STEPS TO SILENCE THE GUNS IN AFRICA BY 2020
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA, 7-9 NOVEMBER 2016
His Excellence, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu, of the Republic of Zambia,
H.E. Dr. Kenneth David Kaunda, the First President of the Republic of Zambia,
Honorable Harry Kalaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia,
Members of the Peace and Security Council,
Representatives of the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution,
Other Distinguished Retreat Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I greet you all in the name of peace, security, stability and prosperity in Africa!
On behalf of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, and on my own personal behalf, I wish to first of all, thank the Government of the Republic of Zambia for the unmatched levels of hospitality extended to all of us since our arrival in this very beautiful city and country. I wish to thank in particular, H.E. Ambassador Susan Sikaneta who initiated the call for the PSC to convene this unique Retreat and for offering to host it. I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to all participants who have managed to find time from their busy schedules in order to participate in this Retreat, which we hope will be historic. Your participation in this historic Retreat is a clear manifestation of our shared desire to silence the guns in Africa by the year 2020.
As the PSC, we have decided to convene this Retreat against the backdrop of continuing insecurity, instability, disruption of political harmony, erosion of social cohesion, destruction of the economic fabric and public despondency. All these phenomena are driven by persistent crisis and violent conflicts, as well as relapses into the cycle of violence in some post-conflict settings. In line with our mandate, we want to ensure that Africa and its people bring about a conflict-free continent. This is all the more urgent given the central thrust of Agenda 2063 and the overall AU Vision of building a peaceful, stable, integrated and prosperous Africa.
Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Many of you would recall that in their OAU/AU 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration adopted in Addis Ababa on 25 May 2013, our Heads of State and Government pledged not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans and to end all wars in Africa by 2020.
Since the adoption of the Solemn Declaration, several follow up initiatives have conducted by our PSC, the AU Commission, civil society organizations, research institutions and think tanks. For example, on 24 April 2014, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) devoted its 430th meeting to an Open Session on the theme: “Silencing the Guns: Pre-requisites for Realizing a Conflict-Free Africa by the Year 2020”. At that meeting, the PSC agreed on the need for rapid, appropriate and courageous responses to early warnings on potential outbreaks of violent conflicts and called for the further strengthening of all existing preventive diplomacy tools, and to ensure quick responses when the need arises. Furthermore, the PSC underscored the importance of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and called for its full operationalization, particularly the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability.
Around the same time, an AU High-Level Retreat was held in Durban, South Africa, from 28 to 29 April 2014 under the theme: “Silencing the Guns in Africa: Building a Roadmap to a Conflict-Free Continent”. Furthermore, from 21 to 23 October 2014, the African Union (AU), in collaboration with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, hosted the Fifth AU Annual High-Level Retreat on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Africa, where participants had extensive deliberations on existing and emerging peace and security threats facing the continent and on the responses required to address them in order to realize the goal of silencing the guns in Africa by 2020. From 21-22 October 2015, the AU Annual High Level Retreat of Mediators, Special Representatives and Special Envoys was held in Windhoek, Namibia under the theme: “Silencing the Guns: Terrorism, Mediation and Armed Groups”. The academia, research institutions, think tanks and civil society organizations have also organized numerous seminars on how to actualize the Solemn Declaration.
Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
While all of these important meetings, retreats and seminars may have had extensive reflections on the root causes of violent conflicts in Africa, they did not produce concrete proposals on practical, realistic, time-bound and implementable steps intended for Member States and the Regional Economic Communities/ Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (RECs/RMs), with the support of civil society organizations, the private sector and relevant sections of the international community, to undertake the necessary strategic tasks of silencing the guns in Africa by 2020. This is why our PSC has taken the bold decision to convene this very important Retreat, which, hopefully, will be unique to the extent that we seek to develop, as its outcome, a very concrete Master Roadmap of practical, realistic, implementable and time-bound practical steps for silencing the guns in Africa by 2020.
Beside the Master Roadmap, we are also going to develop a monitoring and evaluation mechanism, which we will submit for consideration and endorsement by our Heads of State and Government during the January 2017 AU Summit.
We are compelled to do this because the current state of peace and security in our continent remains of great concern to all of us. We continue to witness some old conflicts which are defying solutions and long simmering disputes that are also escalating. We continue to witness conflicts erupting in countries and regions we had all along thought to be stable. In fact, the proliferation of conflict and insecurity in Africa is now reaching unacceptable proportions that are actually outpacing our efforts. At the same time, the cost in terms of human lives, displacements of populations, both, internally and as refugees, the financial resources wasted, the destruction of infrastructure and the environment, have all become unbearable and, indeed, unacceptable. We therefore have no choice but to re-double our efforts to prevent violent conflicts. In doing so, we need to effectively address the root causes, which we all know. This is essentially why we are going to be in this magnificent place for the next three days.
Therefore, it is our fervent hope, as the PSC that, in order to achieve the intended outcome of our Retreat we will need to have open and frank discussions, as well as objective reflections on practical, realistic, implementable, time-bound and achievable steps required to silence the guns in Africa by 2020.
Excellences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
The PSC is mindful of the ambitious goals outlined in the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, but we are certain that, with our collective will, determination and selfless efforts, we shall succeed in silencing the guns in Africa by the year 2020.
I am deeply convinced that, with all the excellent facilities that have been put in place by the Government of the Republic of Zambia, our deliberations in the next few days will definitely lead us to the intended outcome of the Retreat. I have every reason to state in advance that this Retreat will be remembered as the Retreat that marked the turning point in Africa’s infamous trajectory of a history of violent conflicts.
Our people are desperately yearning for better lives, which can only be guaranteed in a peaceful, stable and secure continent. The time to do all it takes to silence the guns in Africa is not tomorrow. We can and must do it now!
May I wish you all fruitful deliberations and a happy stay in this beautiful Lusaka.
I thank you for your patience.