The Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Commission and Focal Point on Conflict and Human Rights in Africa, Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, joins the international community in observing the International Day of Peace on 21 September 2020.
The 2020 theme of the International Day of Peace, “Shaping Peace Together,” serves as a reminder that ending war and conflict and establishing sustainable peace is a human rights necessity for which all bear collective responsibility. As enunciated in Article 23 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), all people are entitled to national and international peace and security, which is the foundation for social progress, development, the well-being of individuals and communities and for freedom.
On this international day, I join the call of the AU and the UN for an end to all wars and conflicts on our continent. To this end and in the context of the annual Africa amnesty month, every effort should be taken for ending the illicit flow, circulation, possession and use of small arms and light weapons on the continent.
Our Commission also welcomes the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’s call for a global ceasefire and the similar call of the AU Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The call to peace is all the more pertinent within the current climate of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic and its impact have exacerbated the suffering of those caught up in conflict situations, derailed peace processes and endangered social tension and political instability.
For us on the continent, in the context of the expansion of the threat of terrorist violence getting a new foothold in Mozambique and rising tensions and threats of political instability in numerous countries on the continent, there is no better agenda and more pressing cause than “Silencing the Guns” in Africa. While we are nowhere near to achieving this noble ambition, there is nothing that shows the timeliness of this agenda more, than the violent conflicts that rage on in parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, in Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Libya, among others.
As an agenda for freeing people from violence or its threats, Silencing the Guns is also essentially a human rights agenda. Without progress for achieving this agenda, the death, mayhem, displacement and destruction that the conflicts and wars inflict, will not stop. Without Silencing the Guns, we cannot have peaceful societies. Without Silencing the Guns, none of the development frameworks of our continent, including the African Free Trade Area, can be realized.
The Commission is also concerned by the rise in political and military interference in the affairs of the countries of the continent, as well as interference by external actors in areas with strategic natural resources and geo-strategic locations. Such interference have in cases such as Libya has worsened the deadly conflict raging in the country, exacerbating the deep divisions in the country and impeding the search for ending the conflict.
As we commemorate this International Day of Peace, I therefore wish to express the call of the African Commission – within the framework of the conclusions of its Study on Human Rights in Conflict Situations under Resolution 332 - on:
- All actors involved in conflict on the continent to respect the International Day of Peace by observing a ceasefire;
- States Parties to the African Charter that they bear the primary responsibility for bringing an end to conflicts within their national territories by instituting inclusive, just and representative system of socio-economic and political systems of governance that guarantees on an equal basis the security and interest of all sectors of society;
- African state and non-state actors to use the Africa Amnesty Month for mobilizing national and regional legislative, institutional, security, budgetary and public awareness actions to end the illicit trafficking, the circulation and use of small arms and light weapons in Africa;
- The AU and regional organizations, within the framework of Silencing the Guns in Africa, to step up their support for peace and transitional justice processes and mobilize economic relief measures to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact from leading societies in transition back to conflict;
- The AU to ensure that human rights monitoring and reporting is integrated into all its peace processes for reducing the impact of conflicts on civilians, including notably women and children.; and
- The AU and African states to take collective measures for ending external interference that prolongs conflicts on the African continent;
Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso
Focal Point for Conflict and Human Rights and
Chairperson of the Commission
Banjul, 21 September 2020