What the Commission for Africa said about: Peace and Security

The second chapter of the 2005 Commission for Africa report was on Peace and Security. It looked at what Africa and its partners could do to prevent violent conflict.

Africa has suffered more than any other continent from the impact of violent conflict and insecurity. This has harmed growth and development. The report therefore identified peace and security as well as governance as the preconditions for accelerated growth and development, arguing that without greater peace and security Africa would struggle to find lasting prosperity.

The Commission for Africa’s overriding recommendation on peace and security was that African and developed countries should invest more in preventing violent conflict – because once conflict turns violent, the damage to growth and development has already been done.

The chapter also argued that those closest to conflicts are best placed to resolve them. It therefore looked at how the international community could support African societies in their efforts to manage conflict. This means tackling the root causes of violent conflict and addressing the factors that fuel violence – such as the mismanagement of natural resource revenues, the proliferation of small arms and the trade in conflict resources.

The report therefore recommended that the international community should open negotiations on an international Arms Trade Treaty no later than 2006 and, within this, adopt more effective means of regulating arms brokering. It also called up on the UN to take steps to speed up action on ‘conflict resources’ – resources, such as diamonds, that help finance or become the reason for ongoing conflict. It also recommended that rich countries improve guidelines for international businesses operating in areas vulnerable to conflict and argued that donors should ensure that their own aid is ‘conflict sensitive’ so that it is not contributing to tensions.

Recognising the African Union and other regional organisations’ ever growing role in responding to violent conflict on the continent, the Commission called upon donors to provide greater and more effective support to those organisations’ efforts. It also called upon those organisations, and the UN, to clarify their roles and responsibilities.

Finally, it is well known that countries have recent experience of violent conflict are at risk of returning to it if not given the right support. The Commission for Africa therefore gave its backing to the proposal that a UN Peacebuilding Commission be created to coordinate assistance to such countries. It also called upon donors to give ‘post-conflict’ countries speedier access to international financing by clearing their debt arrears.

Our report in September 2010 will look at what has been done in response to these recommendations.

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