Silencing the guns in Africa: a pathway to the sustainable development goals.

Author:Sharif, Tarek A.


In July 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, which is an integral part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The United Nations vision, outlined in a comprehensive agenda of 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), includes economic, security, social and environmental dimensions. (1) The implementation of these development goals will require partnerships with the relevant regional bodies and strategies.

The United Nations 2030 Agenda and all its segments are very much connected to Agenda 2063 which is the African Union (AU) strategic vision for a prosperous and peaceful Africa. (2) In this regard, there is an important linkage between SDG 16 aiming to "promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels" on one hand, and the AU strategy of "silencing the guns" by 2020, on the other. Indeed, sustainable development and conflict prevention and resolution are interdependent, especially in the African setting. (3)


Following the independence of many of its countries in the 1960s, Africa witnessed a period of economic reconstruction and development. At the same time, conflict within and between States persisted in some regions. The challenges associated with building a robust peace and strong inclusive societies, in which all citizens can fully integrate and participate, created many difficulties that undermined economic prosperity, good governance, human rights and development. (4)

Civil wars and armed conflicts persisted in Africa, remaining a distinctive feature of the political and social reality of the continent throughout the 1990s. Thereafter, it witnessed a rise of new types of conflict, involving terrorist organizations and organized crime. It was clear that more work was needed to ensure peace on the continent.

At the AU level, efforts continued towards the development of an effective continental mechanism to prevent, resolve and effectively address the phenomenon of conflict. It was only in early 2002 that such a mechanism came to light, with the establishment of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC), (5) which embodied the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). (6) Preventive diplomacy tools, such as the Panel of the Wise, the Continental Early Warning System, the operationalization of the African Standby Force and its Rapid Deployment Capability, were also seen as building blocks for the Common African Defence and Security Policy. (7)


Another important step towards ending conflict in Africa was undertaken in 2013. As...

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