Statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Silencing the Guns in Africa
Speech27 February 2019
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Silencing the Guns in Africa: Cooperation between the UN and regional and sub-regional organisations
Mr. President, thank you for organising this debate. We are happy to have cosponsored the resolution adopted this morning because we think this debate matters. Ireland believes that cooperation between the UN, regional and sub-regional organisations is crucial to conflict resolution and prevention, to building peaceful, inclusive societies and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
We have seen direct evidence first hand of the instrumental role that regional organisations in Africa can play in ending crises and building lasting peace. The role of ECOWAS in mediating the post-election crisis in The Gambia, and the recent peace accord in the Central African Republic after intense negotiations led by the African Union, are both excellent examples of the success that we can hope for when regional efforts deliver with wider international support.
On the island of Ireland our own locally-led peace process has benefitted hugely from the sustained, generous and sensitive support of our own regional organisation, the European Union. Indeed, simply put, our membership of the EU played a key role in putting us on the road to ending violent conflict.
Ireland applauds the AU’s recent advances towards Silencing the Guns through the development of Continental Early Warning Systems, the Panel of the Wise, Special Envoys, and ad hoc mediation panels. These steps make a tangible and incremental difference to conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
As Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, I want to recognise the unique role women from Africa are playing in silencing the guns. I’m pleased to see this role cited in today’s resolution. Specific reference to FemWise-Africa, the Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation and the African Women Leaders Network strengthens our message. We know from our own experience in Ireland that when women get involved, things start getting done.
Peacekeeping operations are the UN’s most visible and most powerful tools in promoting peace and stability. As the UN Member State with the longest continuous service to UN peacekeeping of over 60 years, Ireland is acutely aware of the challenges facing UN peace operations in different countries and regions. The diversity of such challenges underscores the importance of coordinating with regional partners such as the AU and empowering local stakeholders.
The Secretary General’s reform efforts to bridge the peace-security-humanitarian nexus should also be an ambition for our partnership with the AU, in step with effective implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda if we are to deliver.
We all know that the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons continues to enflame and prolong conflicts, as also underlined by our colleague from the ICRC this afternoon. We share the Secretary General’s goal of restoring disarmament to its central role in building international peace and security. As a concrete manifestation of Ireland’s support to this Agenda for Disarmament, yesterday our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney announced that Ireland will act as a Champion for three of the Actions outlined in the Agenda. One of these Actions is specifically aimed at ‘silencing the guns’ by building understanding on the impact of arms on conflict management. We look forward to working with all Member States of the UN and with the AU to make progress.
Finally Mr. President,
We believe that Africa needs greater representation at this table to correct the historic injustice done to Africa. Through Ireland’s current membership of the Peacebuilding Commission and as a sincere candidate for a seat on this Council in 2021 – 2022. You can rest assured Ireland will always work tirelessly to champion locally-led, nationally-owned and internationally-supported peace initiatives. In his address to the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, the Secretary General said if you want to see the winds of hope blowing, look to Africa. He is right. Let me close by underlining Ireland’s unwavering commitment to working closely with the AU, the UN and its Member States to seize this momentum, to silence the guns and to see the great continent of Africa truly free from conflict.