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African Agony, Agenda for Peace
Coen van Wyk

Oct 26, 2023

As in the rest of the world, so in Africa violence seems to be on the rise. In many regions unrest, rebellion, armed uprising and insurgency are spreading. International efforts to quell the violence, to bring back the rule of law are faltering. Yet hope springs eternal … Also in a proposed United Nations Agenda for Peace.

Twelve children, fourteen adults, killed with knives in the night. That is the latest death toll in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Rebels allegedly linked to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have been terrorizing this region for decades, seeking recognition for ethnic exclusion and political expression. 

With the looming withdrawal of United Nations peacekeepers from the DRC as in Mali and elsewhere, the situation is likely to deteriorate — ethnic differences, a weak and corrupt governance system, lowly paid and untrained military all contribute to a situation where neighboring states can benefit from instability and criminal gangs can enslave people to mine the rich mineral deposits. 

The DRC was one of the countries on the agenda of the annual meeting between the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Beyond calls for African funding to increase, not much came out of the discussions. Calls for support for governments transiting to democracy, combating of terrorism and re-organizing funding were reminiscent of reorganizing deckchairs on the Titanic: the meeting noted a resurgence of coups in the Sahel and West Africa and spreading violence in Ethiopia despite agreements to end hostilities. The situation in Sudan, Somalia and Mozanbique was likewise deplored. 

The global situation is not more encouraging. The Israel-Gaza conflict is one step away from triggering an unpredictable, regional cycle of destruction. Syria is still locked in horror. In the far east many small confrontations likewise threaten to escalate. 

In this light one can understand the call by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, for a new Agenda for Peace. The SG reminds that the core principles of a stable world as envisaged in the UN Charter revolves around trust, solidarity and universality. Guterres draws attention to the deep sense of unease among nations and peoples that governments and international organizations are failing them.

The Policy Brief on the Agenda for Peace exhorts Member States to manage their competition and move beyond current divisions to find pragmatic solutions. The world is now entering a transition phase from the cold war period to a new global order. 

We can choose and influence the change now by decisive action. We can choose a new order based on a return to the rule of force, of violence as extremists all over the world desire. Or we can move towards a stable system under a rule of law — in Africa and elsewhere. 

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