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‘Now is the time to unleash Africa’s peace power’ Antonio Guterres tells Security Council
Women attend a community meeting held at the UN Women multipurpose centre in the Ngam refugee camp in Cameroon (file).Photo Courtesy: UN Women/Ryan Brown

‘Now is the time to unleash Africa’s peace power’ Antonio Guterres tells Security Council

| @indiablooms | 24 May 2024, 11:29 am

Peace is the key to unlocking Africa’s future and for strengthening the continent’s voice and influence in building peace globally, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on Thursday.

“Now is the time to unleash Africa’s peace power,” he said, opening a debate on its critical role in addressing global security and development challenges, convened by Mozambique, the Council president for May.

Calling Africa “an important voice for the global good”, he cited examples of how the continent has shown “unity and solidarity in a fractured world”, which include focusing on ending poverty and hunger, supporting refugees, achieving sustainable development, and pushing for reform of the decades-old global financial system.

Ceasefire for Sudan

Mr. Guterres said that although efforts like these require peace in Africa and beyond, “too many Africans are caught up in the hell of conflicts or living with the relentless danger of terrorism and violent extremism in their communities.” 

Addressing the war and “deepening humanitarian nightmare” in Sudan, he warned that increased hostilities in El Fasher are “opening an alarming new chapter” in the conflict, now in its second year.

“We need a concerted global push for a ceasefire, followed by a comprehensive peace process to end the bloodshed,” he said.

Silence the guns

Mr. Guterres outlined three steps to strengthen Africa’s peace leadership, both on the continent and on the global stage.

“First – we need peace in Africa itself,” he said, highlighting the UN’s partnership with the African Union (AU) and support for its ‘Silencing the Guns’ initiative.

He also commended the Security Council’s adoption of resolution 2719 last year which allows AU-led peace support operations that receive their mandates from the Council to access UN assessed contributions. 

The two organizations “will continue working together to defuse conflicts before they escalate, manage them effectively when they occur, and build sustainable peace when they are resolved,” he said.

Reform outdated institutions

Secondly, African participation and leadership must be embedded across “the global peace and security architecture”.

He stressed the need to reform the UN Security Council and other global institutions that were established following the Second World War, which are now outdated.

Structural inequalities have resulted in African states suffering disproportionately from the effects of conflicts, an unjust global financial system, and the climate crisis. 

Praise for Kenya

Yet at the same time, they are also stepping up and contributing to global peace efforts, he added.

He commended Kenya for spearheading the upcoming Multilateral Security Support Mission that will be deployed to Haiti to bolster national efforts to quell rampant gang violence.  He also extended praise to other African countries that have offered to send troops.

The Secretary-General insisted that Africa deserves a voice in the global peace and security architecture.

A voice among equals

“But strengthening Africa’s voice can only happen if African countries can participate in global governance structures as equals,” he said.  “This must include correcting the lack of permanent African representation at this Council.”

The Secretary-General pointed to the Summit of the Future at UN Headquarters in September as an opportunity to push forward on this and other issues, such as reform of the global financial system.

A new Security Council

The AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, underscored that reconfiguration of the global peace and security architecture is imperative.

“The emerging global order must promote renewed and networked multilateralism for the sake of global stability. This is Africa's right and not just a demand,” he said, speaking via video conference.

Furthermore, the new UN Security Council “must be enlarged, must be inclusive, must be pro-Africa, must be more democratic, must be responsive, must be legitimate, must be equitable, and must be accountable.”

Mr. Adeoye also highlighted the issue of financing for peace operations, calling for “100 per cent unhindered, unconditional access to United Nations assessed contributions for peace and security activities.”

Building lasting peace

The Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Ambassador Sérgio França Danese of Brazil, upheld its full commitment to assist African countries seeking support.

He spoke of the PBCs work across several pillars, including institution building, electoral processes, rule of law, transitional justice, security sector reform, and the women, peace and security agenda.

“These are only starting points for normalizing states in transition and post-conflict situations,” he said.

"Investment in sustainable development is crucial to long-term social cohesion and stability and must be undertaken in tandem with other initiatives.”

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