Opening speech by H.E. Amb. SmaÏl Chergui Commissioner for Peace and Security during the High Level Seminar: Sustaining Peace African Women Mediators in focus

Opening speech by H.E. Amb. SmaÏl Chergui Commissioner for Peace and Security during the High Level Seminar: Sustaining Peace African Women Mediators in focus:

Your Majesty Queen of Belgium,

Your Excellency Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium Didier Reynders

Your Excellency Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Mme Margot Wallström

Your Excellency Mme Catherine Samba Panza, co-chair of FemWise-Africa

Your Excellencies

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like from the onset to express my sincere gratitude to Her Majesty the Queen for her encouragement and unwavering support and for gracing our meeting by her presence. I also wish to extend my thanks to the Permanent Mission of Belgium to the United Nations and the International Peace Institute for co-hosting this important event with us.

We are gathered here today to reflect on a subject that is very dear to the African Union and to me personally: how to significantly and urgently advance the substantive participation of African Women in sustaining peace, in mediation, conflict prevention, and management and resolution efforts in Africa and further afield.

This is not merely a wish shared by all of us at the African Union Commission; it is also not simply a promise to be fulfilled at some unspecified moment in the future. It is however a firm commitment, a deeply felt and shared concern that we must do much more – in Africa and the world at large – to overcome what to us is an inexcusable state of affairs.

Indeed, it is deeply worrying that, 18 years since the adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 – a true watershed moment in the development of an international normative framework for women’s participation in peace and security – women’s participation in this field remains marginal at best.

The obligations placed on state parties to “ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention, management, and resolution of conflict” contained in Resolution 1325 notwithstanding, the international community has been slow in its determination to accelerate the participation of women.

And yet, without the substantive participation, contribution and engagement of women, we have little chance of overcoming, in a sustainable and inclusive manner, the violent conflicts that affect many of our countries, that so ravage our communities, stunt our progress, reverse any growth and development achieved. At the same time, but equally concerning to us, is the fact that the gender dimensions of conflict continue to be largely absent in conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction processes, despite the continued international community’s efforts.

Your Majesty

Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The question of women’s participation in peace processes and mediation is in fact rooted in the premise that women’s inclusion – their presence and participation as well as their perspective and contributions to the substance of talks – improves the chances of attaining viable and sustainable solutions. Yet, even though women in Africa as elsewhere have excelled in all areas of public life, rarely do we find women conducting, or even leading so-called Track One processes. Women’s perspectives and experience in government, in the private sector, at community, at family levels would undoubtedly strengthen our ability to better conduct and manage conflict prevention, management and resolution.

On the African continent, the African Union has led efforts at the promotion and empowerment of African women in conflict prevention, management and resolution. Indeed, the African Union has put in place a number of institutions and structures specifically to accelerate the empowerment of women including the appointment of an AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security in 2014 and the establishment of Gender, Peace and Security Programme in 2015.

Equally important, the African Union has created the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FemWise-Africa). Indeed, on 13 March 2017, the AU Peace and Security Council endorsed the modalities for FemWise-Africa with additional endorsement given by the UN Security Council on 27 March 2017 in New York as part of an Arria Formula meeting. FemWise-Africa was officially established through a decision of the AU Assembly of Heads of State (AU Summit) on 4 July 2017.

For the purposes of our meeting here today it is important to recall our priorities as FemWise-Africa:

  1. Professionalizing the role of women in preventive diplomacy and mediation,
  2. Ensuring a channel for women’s meaningful and effective participation in peace processes, including as heads of official high-level mediation missions;
  3. Initiating women’s action that will catalyse and mainstream the engagement of women in mediation in line with the African Union’s “Agenda 2063” and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  4. Bridging the gap between Tracks 1, 2 and 3 mediation and synergizing efforts towards inclusive peace processes with sustainable outcomes.
  5. Strengthening the mediation interventions of FemWise-Africa with the facilitation of Quick Impact Projects and the establishment of local and national peace infrastructures as foundations and Launchpads for medium and longer term initiatives that will ensure that stability and development take root.

Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

The First General Assembly of Fem-Wise, held in Constantine, Algeria, laid out a roadmap to ensure that a number of conflict prevention and mediation-related actions are implemented by FemWise-Africa. These include special missions to select countries, professionalizing the role of women in preventive diplomacy and mediation, implementation of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) in support of FemWise interventions, and the support to national peace infrastructures.

This will ensure FemWise-Africa is anchored in on-going peace processes, such as in Mali/Sahel the Lake Chad Basin, Horn of Africa or the Great Lakes region, where the co-chairs of FemWise-Africa, H.E. Mme Catherine Samba Panza and H.E. Mme Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, are serving as Advisory Board Members of the Women’s Platform for the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Great Lakes region. In the meantime, we have also developed a Continental Results Framework for Monitoring and Reporting on the Implementation of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in Africa.

I am committed to ensuring that women play a pivotal and meaningful role in the area of conflict prevention, social cohesion, dialogue and peace mediation, including in the borderland areas across the African continent. We are steadfast in our efforts to harness the impact of empowering women in mediation, and we look forward to setting this example through upcoming deployments this year. In 2018 alone, we are firmly committed to training one hundred young women mediators. A key priority will be the deployment of these mediators within our ongoing initiatives in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali, as well as facilitating national dialogues in other countries.

Your Majesty, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

This is a time of increased complexity and unpredictability in world affairs, characterised by the gradual erosion of multilateralism through the deepening of isolationism and the rise of nationalist identity based politics. These worrying trends, which directly impact on multilateral organisations such as ours, take place when the world most needs cooperation and unity of purpose to address the threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism, migration, the consequences of environmental degradation and climate change, transnational organised crime, the proliferation of weapons, to name but a few.

In this context, the African Union Commission holds in the highest regard our partnerships with those such as yourselves who share our values. In operationalizing the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation we are calling on the steadfast support of our international partners as rolling out FemWise- Africa throughout the continent will take a concerted and unwavering effort. The important role of women in preventive diplomacy and conflict mediation has been neglected for far too long and the mere fact that we are meeting to discuss this important issues shows that we can do better and we are determined to deliver on that promise.

For this reason, the Commission invites and welcomes collaboration with similar mechanisms around the world, such as the Nordic Women Mediators Network, the Mediterranean Women Mediators Network and the Commonwealth Women Mediators Network. More partnerships will continue to be forged as FemWise-Africa takes root. Potential for collaboration also exists with the Asia Women’s Networks (the Philippines and SANGAT) and the Latin American Networks and platforms such as in Colombia and Brazil, which we will pursue. Just four weeks ago, we had a promising meeting in Oslo, Norway, with the Nordic Women Mediators Network where we were honored by the attendance of the UN Under-Secretary-General, Mme Ana Maria Menendez.

I Thank you for your kind attention!

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Peace and Security Department.

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Source:: Opening speech by H.E. Amb. SmaÏl Chergui Commissioner for Peace and Security during the High Level Seminar: Sustaining Peace African Women Mediators in focus

      

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Ten aid workers missing in South Sudan

Ten aid workers have gone missing outside South Sudan’s Yei town in Central Equatoria region.

Their convoy was en route to Tore from Yei town, early on 25 April to conduct a humanitarian needs assessment. Their whereabouts and well-being are unknown. The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Alain Noudehou demanded their swift return.

“We are deeply concerned about the whereabouts of these humanitarian workers and are urgently seeking information about their well-being,” said Mr. Noudehou. “These individuals, UN and NGO staff, are here to help the people of South Sudan and should not be targeted. Our colleagues must be released without condition so that their work can continue.”

The ten humanitarian staff, all nationals, include one from UNOCHA, two from UNICEF, one from the South Sudanese Development Organisation, (SSDO), two from ACROSS, three from Plan International and one from Action Africa Help (AAH).

“I firmly condemn the latest attack against colleagues engaged in emergency humanitarian assistance in Central Equatoria and call on all parties to the conflict in South Sudan to ensure a safe and secure environment, conducive to the delivery of assistance,” said Mr. Noudehou.

This is the second incident involving aid workers being held by armed groups in April alone, and the third in six months.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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Uganda: Signing of grant agreement between the Korea International Co-operation Agency (KOICA) and United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

The Korea International Cooperation Agency and UNICEF – the United Nations Children’s Fund – have launched a five year programme to scale up water, sanitation and hygiene services in schools in Karamoja.

The programme will be executed until 2022, benefitting 56,000 children from 100 schools in all Karamoja districts – Abim, Amudat, Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto, Napak and Nakapiripirit.

The interventions will be implemented by UNICEF, together with the Ministry of Education and Sports and the seven District Local Governments of the Karamoja region.

“The Government of Korea is proud to partner with UNICEF and the Government of Uganda to provide safe water, adequate sanitation and effective hygiene services to tens of thousands of vulnerable school-going children in Karamoja,” said His Excellency, the Korean Ambassador to Uganda, Kim You-Churl.

“This grant will help to improve the school environment of all 100 schools targeted, thereby helping Uganda achieve many of its Sustainable Development Goal and NDP 2 targets.”

By the end of the programme, all selected schools will have a comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services package, including school latrines, a solar powered water system and handwashing facilities.

This package will help schools in Karamoja meet the recommended national standard of one latrine for every 40 pupils, up from the current ratio of one latrine for every 70 students in Karamoja.

It will also reduce the distance that children have to cover to access safe water to within 500 meters, a significant reduction from the more than 30 minutes it presently takes the majority of children across Uganda to access safe water.

“This grant will help the more than 50,000 children attending these schools to stay in school as well improve their learning outcomes. It will also help to improve the school health environment, thereby reducing the likelihood of a spread of contagious diseases,” said Dr. Doreen Mulenga, UNICEF’s Representative in Uganda.

“UNICEF is very grateful to the people of Korea for this contribution, which will help lift some of the poorest children in Uganda out of debilitating poverty; where they are deprived of many of the basic services and rights they need to develop to their full potential.”

Other interventions of the programme include: provision of life skills education for girls, including menstrual hygiene management; social mobilization campaigns to accelerate positive behavior change among individuals and broader social change among communities; and district-level advocacy.

The overall programme contribution is worth 37 billion UGX (10 million USD), with nearly 30 billion UGX from the Korea International Cooperation Agency and 7 billion UGX contributed by UNICEF.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Uganda.

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World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund to Hold 2021 Annual Meetings in Marrakech, Morocco

The 2021 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group (WBG) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will take place in Marrakech, Morocco, in October 2021, following a vote by the Boards of Governors of the two institutions.

The Annual Meetings bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, civil society, media and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, global financial stability, poverty eradication, inclusive economic growth and job creation, climate change, and others.

The last time the Annual Meetings were held in Africa was in 1973, in Nairobi, Kenya. Today’s (April 25, 2018) announcement of Morocco as the next location of the Meetings coincides with the 60th anniversary of the country’s membership of the WBG and the IMF.

The Annual Meetings are usually held for two consecutive years at the WBG and IMF headquarters in Washington, D.C. and every third year in another member country. The 2018 Annual Meetings will take place in Indonesia in October of this year, at which time there will be an official signing ceremony for the 2021 Meetings in Morocco. A complete list of previous meeting sites is available on the Annual Meetings website.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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