DURING THE AFRICA DAY VIRTUAL CONFERENCE ON SILENCING THE GUNS IN AFRICA
ON THE TOPIC
LOCAL OWNERSHIP OF DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILIZATION AND REINTEGRATION (DDR) AND SECURITY SECTOR REFORM (SSR), MECHANISM FOR THE OPERATIONALIZATION OF THE AMNESTY MONTH HELD ON 1ST JUNE, 2020
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately been challenging, I am pleased that it has not stymied the implementation of the programmes of our Union particularly on promoting sustainable peace, security and development. I therefore commend the African Union Commission and the Partners of the Union for the stellar efforts being made to ensure that there is a renewed impetus in the implementation of the initiatives that would further reinforce the nexus between sustainable peace, security and development. I also thank the Moderator of the Conference and, the Discussant of this Session.
The Gambia commends the strong pan-African solidarity that have been manifested in the mitigation of the contagious spread of COVID-19. We congratulate all the Frontline Health Workers for their gallant and selfless sacrifice for our Continent. In the same vein, we also salute the efforts of the leadership of our Continent, the Commission, in particular Africa CDC, for ensuring that the African Continent does not become the next epicenter for the spread of this pandemic.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sustainable peace and security are indispensable to realizing our collective development aspirations as epitomized in Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, the efforts toward this important state of affairs should not be derailed by the prevailing global circumstances. This Conference demonstrates the African ingenuity and resolve to address the fundamental concerns of our Continent within the context of the current pandemic.
At the 33rd African Union Summit, the Theme “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, that our Leadership adopted orients our collective focus on the initiatives that are critical to strengthening the linkages between sustainable peace, security and development. They have bravely demonstrated their enduring determination to address the underlying issues that aggravate insecurity and, to promote sustainable development. This however, requires transformative efforts and platforms that ensure that all the stakeholders including the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are brought into the fold through innovative and strategic partnerships.
It is on this basis that The Gambia introduced an agenda item “Strengthening National Capacities for Effective Management of Weapon Stockpiles” during the Summit to ensure that there is a deliberate collaborative effort between the Commission, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the Member States in improving national capacities to effectively address the illicit use and proliferation of Small and Light Weapons (SALWs) on the Continent. We request the Commission to implement the Assembly Decisions on the agenda item. The AU Reform Agenda will be executed in a hallowed space if sustainable peace, security and development are not pursued through various strategic platforms and programmes including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
DDR and SSR are inextricably linked and mutually reinforcing. The Gambia appreciates that there are critical policies of our Union aimed at providing to the Member States essential capacities to develop, localize and work their DDR and SSR Programmes.
The AU Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform (SSR) and DDR programmes such as the Amnesty Month provide to the Member States the platforms to develop and implement programmes to complement efforts toward sustainable peace and security. The Gambia notes with appreciation of the convening of a Consultative Meeting in Banjul in 2019 on both localizing and effectively implementing the Continental agenda on SSR. The diversity of the participants from the public sector, CSOs, Regional and International Organizations have led to important ideas to enrich the Commission’s orientation in providing technical support to the Member States in implementing their National SSR Programmes.
I recognize the focus of DDR and SSR Continental Strategies to fully accommodate the important roles of national governments. The roles of women, religious leaders and youths are also pivotal in promoting both ownership and localizing the implementation of DDR and SSR Continental Strategies. There needs to be a capacity to ensure that the demographic dividend of the Continent continues to be fully harnessed in the quest for sustainable peace and security.
The Gambia views Peacekeeping Support Operations as existential to the success of DDR and SSR Programmes. It is to this end that we continue to contribute personnel to the peace support operations in various theatres under the auspices of the AU and the UN. I therefore take this opportunity to congratulate the brave men and women that are contributing to the noble efforts of sustaining peace and security and, to express support to the Union in the negotiations with the UNSC on the financing of peace support operations.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Government of H.E. President Adama Barrow, in ushering a democratic dispensation in The Gambia understood that reform programmes need to be implemented to transform the democratic credentials of the country.
The country has since 2017, introduced reform programmes particularly for the security and judiciary sectors. This is done in recognition of the correlation between the entrenched respect for human right and rule of law and, the discipline of the institutions tasked to defend and implement these values and ethos. It is on this basis that the Gambia Government with the support of the United Nations conceived and implemented Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) and an SSR Programme. Important milestones have been made in the implementation of these national programmes supported by partners among them the African Union.
For The Gambia, the AU and the strategies developed through the AU, have served as lighthouses in the development and implementation of our national SSR Programmes. The Gambia Government have created the Office of a National Security Adviser and a Ministerial Steering Committee to develop with the visible support of technical expertise a National Security Strategy and Policies that will create disciplined Armed and Security Forces capable of promoting our democratic ideals and norms. President Barrow has also appointed a Minister of Defense, who is amongst others, charged with the mandate of transforming the Gambia Armed Forces. The AU has also provided important technical support by deploying technical experts to The Gambia to support the National SSR Process.
The Process has taken a widened scope and it is being supported by the CRC and TRRC Processes. It is only when we understand the ills of the past that we can chart a clear path to a stronger democratic dispensation. The Gambia Government with the support of its Partners is committed to fully implement its SSR Agenda and ensures that all the pertinent stakeholders are included.
In concluding, I wish to make the following recommendations as a mean of enriching the subsequent discussions of this august Conference:
- The AU with the support of Partners and Member States need to continue to consolidate the synergies between the Continent’s SSR, DDR and Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development strategies;
- The AU with its Partners need to continue to support the Member States to promote strong grassroots initiatives to ensure that the youths, CSOs, Religious and Women’s Groups are fully involved in the efforts toward sustainable peace, security and development;
- The AU with its Partners need to deploy effective communication strategies to ensure all the stakeholders are adequately informed of the processes to implement the Continental DDR and SSR Strategies and Programmes;
- The AU and its Partners need to continue to promote national ownership and accountability in the implementation of DDR and SSR Programmes;
- The AU and its Partners need to continue to support the processes to ensure that DDR and SSR Programmes are supported with national reconciliation processes and the improvement of national capacities to effectively manage the weapon and other dangerous stockpiles.