What can we do to make peace in Africa?
(AfricaReview)--21 September, Africa will join the rest of the world to celebrate International Day of Peace (Peace Day). Every year since 1982, that day has provided a rallying point for the UN and its member states, as well as for civil society, the private sector and individuals, to join forces to advance global peace.
This year, 21 September will have a special meaning to Africans, for it will be the culmination of the 2010 Year of Peace and Security, declared at an African Union (AU) special session on the consideration and resolution of conflicts in Africa in Tripoli on 31 August last year.
On that occasion, African heads of State and government outlined their collective commitment to bring peace to the continent: ‘We are determined to deal once and for all with the scourge of conflicts and violence on our continent, acknowledging our shortcomings and errors, committing our resources and our best people, and missing no opportunity to push forward the agenda of conflict prevention, peacemaking, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction. We, as leaders, simply cannot bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans.’
Peace Day is the symbolic focus of this commitment. While peace cannot be made in a day, 21 September nevertheless affords Africans the opportunity to celebrate notable successes in peace-building and to put peace in practice through a collective, cooperative moment of unity. A cessation of hostilities on Peace Day will allow humanitarian agencies to dispense life-saving medicines and provide inoculations and other humanitarian assistance to communities that would otherwise be inaccessible.
More important, a successful Peace Day will create hope for a better future for the entire continent. The activities of a single day can energise Africans from all walks of life, helping to generate a widespread grassroots peace movement across the continent. And that upwelling of demand for peace, and actions to make peace happen, may help fulfil our common promise of a conflict-free Africa.
21 September is an opportunity for Africa’s leaders to renew the pledge they made in Tripoli and to show, by personal example, their commitment to peace. It is also a practical demonstration of the partnership between the AU and the UN, the two organisations that jointly shoulder the greater burden of making peace, protecting civilians and providing security for humanitarian assistance across Africa.
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