Africa-France Summit – Remarks by President Jacob Zuma to Session on Strengthening Peace and Security

AllAfrica.com. The following is the full text of a speech delivered by South African President Jacob Zuma, who was among the leaders at the Africa-France Summit in Nice, France. The South Africa President reaffirmed the importance of prioritising the attainment of peace and security in all parts of Africa, through collective efforts of the member countries of the African Union. With regard to progress in operationalising African peace and security architecture, President Zuma emphasised a number of instruments, which constitute also some of the main objectives of the Africa-EU Peace and Security Partnership of the Joint Strategy (without, however, mentioning it), namely the AU Peace and Security Council, the African Standby Force, the Panel of the Wise and the Continental Early Warning System.

“Your Excellency, President Sarkozy,
Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government on the African Continent;
Your Excellency, Mr Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General,
Your Excellency, Dr Jean Ping; AU Commission chairperson,
Ministers of Foreign Affairs;
Ladies and Gentlemen;

Allow me first of all to thank our host, President Sarkozy, and the Government of the French Republic for hosting this important occasion and for extending such warm courtesies to us all, in this beautiful city of Nice.

Excellencies,

Through the collective efforts of the member countries of the African Union, we continue to prioritise the attainment of peace and security in all parts of Africa.

As we consider the work that lies ahead, we need to reflect on the progress of operationalising our African peace and security architecture.

This architecture was developed to support programmes aimed at the prevention, resolution and management of conflicts in a multifaceted approach.

Such an approach would entail:

  • The AU Peace and Security Council, which is the standing decision-making organ for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts;
  • An African Standby Force (ASF) that deploys peace support missions on the continent;
  • The Panel of the Wise to mediate in conflict situations;
  • A Continental Early Warning System that enables the African Union to pre-empt and prevent the occurrence of conflicts.

In its five years of existence, the Peace and Security Council, supported by the Panel of the Wise and the AU Commission, has demonstrated valuable dynamism in dealing with crises and conflict situations.

However, we need to note that operationalisation of the Continental Early Warning System and the African Standby Force is progressing rather slowly.

Insufficient technical and financial resources, coupled with skills shortages, remain the biggest impediments to progress.

We should therefore consider increased cooperation with development partners.

Closer cooperation between the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council is an important element in promoting and maintaining peace on the African Continent.
Presently, the AU Commission and the UN Secretariat cooperate on a range of issues relevant to peace and security in Africa.

Of particular significance is the AU UN hybrid mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the two organisations are cooperating through the Ten Year Capacity Building Programme signed in 2006.

With regards to the UN Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the UN has agreed to provide a logistics support package.

Despite these significant achievements, more needs to be done to strengthen political dialogue, expedite the operationalisation of the African Standby Force, and increase support for Africa’s peace keeping missions.

While AU member states are committed to peace mission deployment, reimbursement under UN agreements is often very slow, making it difficult for member states to increase their mission support to other crisis areas.

Excellencies,

As we strengthen our peace and security architecture, we need to address the root causes of conflict.

We need to address the socio-economic needs of the people of Africa.

In many instances conflict is a consequence of deep-rooted imbalances within societies.

Lasting peace will only be sustainable once we have addressed issues of social and economic deprivation and inequality.

Excellencies,

African countries remain committed to addressing conflict and instability, including unconstitutional changes of government.

We need to be encouraged that progress continues to be made in our various mediation efforts.

Our Tripoli Plan of Action outlines specific commitments aimed at accelerating the resolution of conflict, responding to crisis situations, and consolidating peace.

We need to acknowledge the strides being made in strengthening democratic governance through the various instruments adopted by the AU.

The holding of regular democratic elections is translating into sustained peace and economic development in many countries on the continent.

Excellencies,

But we cannot ignore the emergence of new threats to international peace and security.

These include the destabilising effects of widespread poverty, large-scale migration, rapid urbanisation, environmental degradation, and competition for scarce natural resources.

As a result, the paradigms of conflict prevention, resolution and management need to be re-defined so that we may respond to changing conditions.

Excellencies,

Africa is taking control of its own destiny.

There are fewer conflicts now than in much of the last century.

There are more democratic countries today than ever before.

The economy is growing at a pace which outstrips most other regions of the world.

In order to continue on this trajectory, we need to redouble our efforts to end war, conflict and instability.

In this effort, we are grateful for the support of our partners, like France, who have pledged to support Africa in bringing about peace and prosperity.

This Summit presents an opportune platform to deepen our cooperation on many issues.

We are reminded, President Sarkozy, of your address to the South African Parliament on 28 February 2008, where you reiterated France’s vision of “placing its relations with Africa on a new footing premised on the recognition of and taking on board the interests of Africa with a renewed impetus injected to this Partnership.”

The injection of this new impetus would be informed by the principle that “the security and the prosperity of France and Europe are indissolubly linked with the security and prosperity of Africa”.

Finally, Excellencies,

In this African Year of Peace and Security, we have rightly committed ourselves to spare no effort to continue our onward march towards a peaceful and prosperous Africa.

As this Year of Peace and Security culminates on the International Day of Peace and Security on the 21st of September, Africa will be called upon to prove to the world that peace is indeed possible.

I am confident we can do so.

I thank you”.

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