Peace-Building In Africa Will Be A Mirage If…
By Phyllis D. Osabutey
A FORMER Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Ambassador Ellen Margrette Loej says women’s involvement in peacekeeping is key to the success of peace operations.
According to her, “peace-building in Africa or anywhere in the world will simply not be achieved and be sustainable if women are not involved.”
She said women’s role is important in peace-making, peacekeeping, peace-building, state- building or nation-building, and particularly in finding solutions to the challenges of peacekeeping.
Ambassador Loej was delivering a lecture on the theme: “Peace-building in Africa: Perspectives and Challenges – Inter-linkages between peacekeeping, peace-building and state-building,” at the inaugural Kofi Annan/ Dag Hammarskjold Annual Lecture in Accra, on Wednesday.
The lecture was instituted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) in recognition of the contribution of Dag Hammarskjold and Mr. Kofi Annan, as the 2nd and 7th United Nations Secretary General respectively, to peacekeeping activities on the African continent and elsewhere. The event was also used to launch the 10th anniversary of the KAIPTC.
Touching on the perspectives and challenges of peacekeeping, the former SRSG indicated that it is important to apply lessons learned from one conflict to another and also to adjust and apply the lessons to the concrete challenges in the post conflict country in question.
However, “in doing so, a number of hard choices will have to be made by all involved – the peacekeeping mission, the national government and the international community at large”, she noted.
She stated that in any peacekeeping mission, it is always with the expectation that it is an interim measure until the national capacity to provide the necessary security for the population has been built, and in many cases until the underlying causes of the conflict has been addressed.
Thus, mandates contain elements related to how to keep and build the peace and build national capacity, she explained. These include tasks like disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, protection of key facilities, protection of civilians as well as reform of the security sector including necessary training of national security personnel, she mentioned.
Additionally, mandates also include more political elements such as those related to promoting a national dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict, and to preparing and supporting national elections, she pointed out.
Furthermore, she indicated that the biggest challenges are those faced by the national government in a post conflict country because “more often than not they will – with limited human and financial capacity have to deal with challenges like dysfunctional public sector, return and reintegration of IDP’s and refugees, economic revitalization, rehabilitation of physical infrastructure, and provision of basic services.”
She said in addressing these challenges, the government would have to pay attention to the high expectations of the population including the fact that “they want to see and feel that peace makes a difference in their daily lives.”
According to her, building the peace in a post conflict country and building the state structures and nurturing them into institutions that all citizens can identify with and relate to are daunting tasks, hence “all actors must realize this and work together towards the same end goal.”
Another challenge she mentioned was ensuring sustainability of efforts towards peace-building and state-building. She prescribed that to ensure sustainability, solutions must be home-grown, affordable, robust and representative of the needs of key local constituencies.
This, she explained was necessary not only to keep and build the peace in the short term but also for ensuring that the peace is long lasting.She added that closely related to the sustainability is the challenge of funding and funding modalities, lamenting that “most often than not funding is uneven among sectors.”
She said the reason is that donors or the international partners are accountable to their tax payers and their parliaments which at times makes the donor approach risk adverse.
To counter this, “donors working in post conflict countries must be encouraged to focus on the peace dividend as the overriding criteria for engagement, rather than simply focusing on safe, popular or donor attractive options and quick reimbursement rates.”
She expressed the hope that the challenges between peacekeeping, peace-building and state-building would be addressed in continued deliberations in all relevant bodies for progress to be made in arriving at sustainable solutions.
She ended by urging all those dealing with peacekeeping, peace-building and state-building to ensure that “women are included and their concerns addressed in finding solutions to the overall challenges outlined.”
In a welcome address, the Commandant of the KAIPTC, Air Vice Marshall Christian E. K Dovlo said within the relatively short period of the Centre, it has justified and proven the need for such an institution in the sub-region.
He noted that what started as a concept for sharing the Ghana Armed Forces’ experiences and expertise in peacekeeping has evolved into an international centre of excellence where training, research and education “in our chosen field of peace and security has been merged effectively to build regional capacity to meet our continent’s present and future peace and security needs.”
He said over the last ten years, KAIPTC has been recognized for the high calibre of its training programmes and the research that not only impact on these programmes but also seek to inform and influence policy.
“Over the past three years, we have also acquired national accreditation as a tertiary institution and launched an innovative academic programme in the field of peace and security which at its core examines issues of current and future threat to our security and peace”, he pointed out.
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