Africa United

 

This conference was conceived as part of the important events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU).

The message is clear that we have convened here in Doha principally to discuss the vital and unavoidable challenge of achieving peace and security in Africa.

All of us are here because together we have understood and agree that the peace and security the Africans seek are a fundamental imperative in terms of creating the objective conditions for the socio-economic development which would extricate the African masses from pervasive poverty and underdevelopment, as well as save African lives from death and suffering as a result of avoidable conflicts.

As I speak here today I am convinced that there is surely no credible leader in Africa, across the various spheres of life, who does not understand the intimate interconnection among the three issues of peace, democracy and development.

The entirety of the African leadership and people very clearly understand the relationship among the challenges of African peace, democracy and development.

Connected to this must be our understanding that Africa has already adopted many of the all-Africa policies which actually address this matter.

I mention all this to suggest that as we seek actual and sustained movement forward towards ending conflict on our continent, we should, among others, rely on:

·       existing all-Africa policies and programmes in favour of peace and stability;

·       the imperative that Africa’s governments should implement the policies they have adopted through the OAU and the AU; and,

·       the popular understanding among the African masses that they will not achieve the goal of a sustained better life if they do not engage the struggle for peace and stability on our continent.

I would like to refer to observations with which I am certain many of us are familiar.

Here I am speaking about an authoritative analytical piece of research on the matter of peace on our continent written, interestingly, by a US academic, in 2010, Professor Scott Straus.

When I spoke in Ethiopia at the Tana Forum on Security in Africa in April, this year, I referred to what Scott Straus had written and said:

“Some of what (the Scott Straus) ‘monograph’ says correctly, clearly based on extensive and credible research … is that we must take great care to differentiate among different forms and sources of violence on our continent, located within different historical periods.

“In the abstract summarising the ‘monograph’, Straus says:

‘Contrary to common assumption, major forms of large-scale organised political violence in Sub-Saharan Africa are declining in frequency and intensity, and the region is not uniquely prone to the onset of warfare.

“‘African civil wars in the late 2000s were about half as common compared to the mid-1990s.

“‘The character of warfare has also changed. Contemporary wars are typically small-scale, fought on state peripheries and sometimes across multiple states, and involve factionalised insurgents who typically cannot hold significant territory or capture state capitals. 

“‘Episodes of large-scale mass killing of civilians are also on the decline.

“‘That said, other forms of political violence that receive less attention in the academic literature are increasing or persistent. 

“‘These include electoral violence and violence over access to livelihood resources, such as land and water.

“‘While primarily descriptive, the article posits that geo-political shifts since the end of the Cold War are a leading candidate to explain the changing frequency and character of warfare in Sub-Saharan Africa’.

“An additional and important point which Straus makes is that almost all the wars on our continent during the last 50 years have been civil wars, rather than inter-state conflicts.

“I think that perhaps the only exceptions in this regard would be the 1963 short so-called Sand War between Algeria and Morocco, the 1977/1978 Ethiopian/Somali war, the Libyan-generated conflict between Chad and Libya between the years 1978 to 1987, the 1978-1979 Uganda/Tanzania war, the Eritrea/Ethiopia war of May 1998 to June 2000, and the so-called Second Congo War in the DRC, which began in 1998.

“However the fact of these inter-state wars does not change the fact that the bulk of the armed conflicts on our continent during our years of Independence have been intra-state in character.”

 

 

Confronting Stereotypes

 

It may very well be that some of the Scott Straus observations are contentious. However, I have cited them to make two points in particular.

These are that:

·       we must acknowledge and celebrate the fact that over the decades the level and extent of violence and conflict on our continent have declined; and,

·       we must strive to approach the matter of conflict and instability in Africa in an analytic manner the better to make proposals that would actually help us effectively to end this conflict and instability.

I would like to emphasise the importance of the first of these points first because it would help to confront a very negative stereotype of the African continent as a place of endemic conflict, and secondly because, and of great significance, the abandonment of this stereotype is directly related to the critical challenge successfully to address our development challenge.

The second of these points speaks directly to what we as Africans must do practically to enhance and accelerate our progress towards an African continent free of the conflict and instability this Conference will discuss.

In this regard, I would like to return to what I referred earlier concerning the existing all-Africa policies relating to the interconnected matters of peace and development.

In its preambular paragraphs, the Constitutive Act of the AU says that the states signatories are:

“Conscious of the fact that the scourge of conflicts in Africa constitutes a major impediment to the socio-economic development of the continent and of the need to promote peace, security and stability as a prerequisite for the implementation of our development and integration agenda…”

To give effect to its concern to address this scourge, the AU launched its Peace and Security Council on Africa Day 2004, having solemnly agreed, in 2002, on an approved Protocol that would guide and govern the work of the Council.

As all of us know, the Protocol bound the AU to a whole body of decisions that had been taken earlier through the OAU, which sought to address the various facets of the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts on our continent.

Bearing this in mind, I would like to quote three paragraphs of the important AU PSC Protocol, which help to explain the reason for the establishment and therefore the tasks of the Peace and Security Council.

These paragraphs say that the states parties to the Constitutive Act of the AU:

·       “(are aware) of the fact that the development of strong democratic institutions and culture, observance of human rights and the rule of law, as well as the implementation of post-conflict recovery programmes and sustainable development policies, are essential for the promotion of collective security, durable peace and stability, as well as for the prevention of conflicts;

·       “(are determined) to enhance our capacity to address the scourge of conflicts on the continent and to ensure that Africa, through the African Union, plays a central role in bringing about peace, security and stability on the continent; and,

·       “(are desirous) of establishing an operational structure for the effective implementation of the decisions taken in the areas of conflict prevention, peace-making, peace support operations and intervention, as well as peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction…”

With regard to the above, perhaps I should also cite an important Article in the Protocol listed as one of the Principles of the African Union, which asserts:

“the right of the Union to intervene in a member state pursuant to a decision of the Assembly (of heads of State and Government) in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, in accordance with Article 4(h) of the Constitutive Act…”

All this communicates the very clear message that drawing from our collective experience, Africa’s premier representative institutions have understood and accepted that the intervention to address the important and continuing challenge of peace, security and stability must amount to much more than helping to negotiate peace agreements among belligerents and deploying peace-keeping troops.

Thus as prescribed in the Protocol that directs and governs the AU Peace and Security Council, genuine and lasting success in the struggle to achieve peace and security on our continent depends on its full integration with our other similarly important African strategic efforts.

If I may, I would like to say that our continent came to this eminently correct conclusion because it asked itself the strategic question – What are the things that make for peace?

We must therefore take it as established policy, agreed by all its member states, that for it successfully to attend to the challenge of peace, security and stability, the AU is determined simultaneously to address the related African issues of:

·       the genuine democratisation of our countries;

·       sustainable socio-economic development which benefits the people as a whole;

·       post-conflict reconstruction that would obviously also have to attend to the root causes of conflict; and,

·       ensuring that the principle and practice of national sovereignty are not abused to permit the commission of such crimes as those against humanity and genocide.

Again as all of us know, the AU PSC Protocol also says: “The Peace and Security Council shall be a collective security and early-warning arrangement to facilitate timely and efficient response to conflict and crisis situations in Africa.”

 

Giving the AU Teeth

 

I think that there are at least two questions that arise from this.

One of these is whether there exist the institutions on our continent, especially within and through the AU, in fact and practically to discharge the collective responsibility towards the challenge of conflict, as prescribed in the Peace and Security Council Protocol?

The second is whether, in any case, the political climate and will exist on our continent that would enable the AU and related institutions to which I have referred to discharge the collective responsibility that resides in the AU PSC?

With regard to the matter of the democratisation of our continent, early in its life, the African Union agreed to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) with its benchmarks to address the challenge of democratisation.

Later, by the beginning of last year, the requisite number of our countries had ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which means that it is now part of all-Africa policy.

Both these important instruments, the APRM and the African Charter, provide for intrusive African collective interventions to address the matter of genuine democratisation in each of our countries.

This matter of democratisation is of course also directly related to such important issues as the form of state, the viability and effectiveness of the state institutions and the accountability of the state to the citizenry.

In the context of these matters relating to State institutions, and as an example which confirms their importance, we have seen how the traders in illegal narcotics, the drug dealers, have taken advantage of weak states on our continent, and further weakened them, contributing directly, as in the case of Mali, to war, and in the case of Guinea-Bissau returning back to a period of military coups d’etat.

As we discuss the matter of conflict in Africa and the promise of renaissance, informed by the PSC Protocol, we must ask ourselves the necessary questions about whether Africa has the institutional capacity and the political climate and will we have mentioned, effectively to address the challenge of the genuine democratisation on our continent and building the state system and institutions we need?

In this regard, we must surely understand that without all this, it will be impossible to accomplish the genuine and lasting peace visualised in the PSC Protocol!

 

Sharing the Wealth

 

Let us also consider the matter referred to in the PSC Protocol as sustainable economic development.

One of the central issues is the class stratification in all African societies as a result which all our countries face the challenge of gross and visible disparities in terms of the sharing of wealth, given the existence of a well-off and ruling elite on one side, and a desperately impoverished overwhelming majority, on the other.

It is true that this is an unacceptable tendency internationally that translates into a very discriminatory system of wealth distribution beyond class, relating to ethnic, regional, religious and other features of our diverse societies, all of which are directly relevant to the challenge of achieving peace and stability on our continent.

As Africans fundamentally interested to achieve lasting peace among ourselves, we must therefore ask ourselves the challenging question: Do we have the institutions as well as the political climate and will, in fact to intervene collectively as a Continent in all our countries, to combat the growing glaring divide between rich or well-off African ruling elites on one hand, and the poor, disempowered African masses on the other, which militates against the achievement of the peace we seek?

I would like to believe that of necessity, Africa must successfully address the challenge of post-conflict reconstruction in all of the many affected countries as required by the PSC Protocol.

Such success will and can only be achieved if such reconstruction seriously addresses the fundamental causes of the original conflict.

 

An African Nation

 

I am certain that one of the critical considerations in this regard is the central issue of the formation of the African nation, in other words developing a real and genuine shared sense of a common nationhood in our countries, across and despite our rich diversity and divides, regardless of the colonial boundaries we inherited.

When he has commented on the matter I am raising, one of Africa’s eminent public intellectuals, Prof Mahmoud Mamdani, has written of “a common citizenship as the basis of national sovereignty”, and “a common political citizenship and a law-based order … a nation-state equal to realising social justice”.

Mahmoud Mamdani states our challenge concretely and correctly, that to respond to the challenge of post-conflict reconstruction, we must strive to ensure that such reconstruction is based on achieving the objective of state sovereignty and legitimacy founded on common political and other citizenship.

This African State must afford social justice to all citizens without discrimination, governed by an entrenched and genuinely nationally accepted law-based rather than a factional and arbitrary governance order.

This is citizenship, which would unequivocally define the legitimacy of the African State, fundamentally because it rejects and opposes, practically, any political, cultural and socio-economic measures that would, in any way, discriminate against any citizen on any basis whatsoever, such as those based on our various natural but inclusive identities on the basis of our tribal, language, religious, parental, colour, racial, regional and other identities, regardless of the colonial boundaries we inherited.

We must and would have to consider honestly and objectively such immensely challenging phenomena, among others, as the repeated rebellions of the Tuaregs in such countries as Mali and Niger, the threatened balkanisation of Libya into a number of micro-states, the sustained instability in the Casamance Region of Senegal, the 2002-2011 conflict in Côte d’Ivoire and its consequences, Boko Haram and instability in the Niger Delta in Nigeria, the protracted armed rebellions in the Sudanese periphery, the persistent instability in the eastern Kivu provinces of DRC, the roots of the endemic instability in CAR, the reasons for the destructive existence of the LRA in northern Uganda as long as it did, the reasons underlying the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya, the persistence of the violent RENAMO challenge in Moçambique, to say nothing about al-Shabaab in Somalia and its relationship with the important Somali populations which are an integral part of the Nation States of both Kenya and Ethiopia.

I would also like to emphasise the absolute imperative, within the common citizenship to which I have referred, resolutely to confront and address the historic task to achieve the emancipation and empowerment of the women of Africa. 

Viewed even from the most practical and pragmatic consideration, given our collective experience, outside the philosophical, the reality sticks out with no need for any embellishment or argumentation, that Africa cannot have a just and stable peace without the emancipation and empowerment of the women of Africa, and their involvement as a vital and inalienable force in determining the future of Africa, including with regard to the challenge of peace, security and stability.

The realisation of this objective is exactly one of the critical elements of what makes for peace in Africa!

 

Foreign Interference

 

Thus, with regard to the important matter of post-conflict reconstruction, again we must pose to ourselves the challenging question whether we have the institutions as well as the political climate and will in fact to achieve the successful post-conflict reconstruction that we need to guarantee peace, security and stability on our continent?

We enjoy the fortunate circumstance that our continent has already taken the strategically important decision that it is committed collectively to take care of Africa’s peace, security and stability.

However, I am afraid that because of the contemporary balance of power globally, there are some in the rest of the world who evidently know this as a matter of fact to them that they have every right unilaterally to intervene on our continent by military means.

They will use whatever justification, including their supposed national interest, and even love for us, regardless of what Africa thinks, as was so clearly demonstrated in the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, to legitimise their actions which compromise exactly our determination collectively to take care of our own peace, security and stability.

I am certain that it is also in this context, among others, including building our own capacity to adjudicate and address the crimes specified in the Rome Statute, that we should discuss the important matter of the relationship between Africa and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

As we engaged in struggle for our liberation, we came to understand this as given that the African masses, regardless of the imposed colonial boundaries and our disparate colonial histories, are conscious of the reality that as Africans we share a common destiny and therefore that we must act in unity to determine that destiny as one interdependent whole.

I mention this because I am certain that consistent with the theme which the AU adopted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the OAU, committing all of us to Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance, we need exactly this commitment for us successfully to realise the objectives our continent has set itself with regard to the interconnected challenges of peace, democracy and development.

For far too long, the violent political conflicts and instability on our continent have been used throughout the world to project a very negative stereotype of ourselves as Africans.

Thus we have been presented as mere wards which need guardianship, superintendence and charitable support by others from outside Africa, who are superior to ourselves.

As Africans we have it in our power and have a duty radically to change this, and must do so, as we have been doing in the last few years consciously as Africans.

We need the same African cohesion and sense of common purpose to achieve the two historic and interrelated objectives of the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment on our Continent and ensuring that Africa takes her rightful place within the international community of nations as an equal partner.

Already, the immensely positive and sustained developments that have been taking place relating to the growth of the aggregate African economy, demonstrate practically that we have the resources, and the ways and means to generate the wherewithal to ensure a better life for the masses of the African people, which latter objective all our countries must work to achieve.

We must also take the next step, to use our collective strength both to affirm the independence of the peoples of Africa, and to assert Africa’s role as a vital member of the global leadership that must build a better and equitable world, for the benefit of all ordinary working people, especially in the context of the process of globalisation.

Africa and the billion Africans are critical players in terms of helping to determine the future of all humanity.

However, we will succeed to live up to our possibilities and responsibilities in this regard if we do indeed internalise among our teeming masses, and our broad leadership, the imperative truly to embrace the twin objectives of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance.

In this regard, it is perfectly obvious that one of the critical steps we must take, as our own initiative, is indeed to achieve genuine and lasting peace among the Africans, taking into account the task to integrate this peace with the other African strategic objectives – democracy and development.

Depending on what we do now, acting as Pan-Africanists and adherents of the African Renaissance, counter intuitive as this might appear to some, as Africans acting together we have the possibility to make a critical impact on the content, form and direction of global affairs, in our interest as Africans, including the African Diaspora.

Perhaps the most important message I would like to convey to this important conference is that objectively Africa has the possibility at last, after half-a-millennium, to re-establish herself as an equitable player in the determination of the global order, in her own interest and therefore the integrated interests of the poor of Africa and the rest of the world.

More than a decade ago, the view took hold throughout Africa, beyond the narrow echelon of our Continental leadership, that as Africans we should indeed strive to ensure that the 21st becomes an African Century!

I believe that we have gathered here in Doha essentially to contribute to the determination of what should be done to achieve this historic objective.

With regard to all the foregoing, I would like to insist that our central and most current strategic challenge is the provision of the bold and courageous political and other leadership of which many of the Africans present here are an integral part, which must help us, the billion Africans, truly to make this an African Century.

November 2013
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