Statement by Walter J. Lindner, State Secretary of the Federal Foreign Office, in the Security Council Open Debate on Silencing the Guns in Africa

27.02.2019 - Speech

I would like to thank Equatorial Guinea for convening this timely debate, and the distinguished speakers for their contributions.

Our African partners have set themselves an ambitious agenda – Silencing the Guns by 2020 - for ending conflict in Africa. Germany fully supports this agenda; and we welcome the progress already achieved: The African Peace and Security Architecture provides a solid framework; and the implementation of the “Silencing the Guns” Action Plan is well under way.  In all these efforts, the African Union is an indispensable partner.

I also want to commend Equatorial-Guinea for the Security Council resolution adopted today. The resolution addresses the root causes of conflict and puts emphasis on prevention and peacebuilding. In particular, we welcome that it addresses climate change, natural resources, terrorism and organized crime as well as human rights abuses as potential conflict-drivers. We fully support that it highlights the important role of women and youth.

Mr. President,

Let me outline four areas where Germany works hand in hand with African partners and the African Union to further peace and security in Africa:

First, Germany supports the strengthening of the African Union’s capacity to prevent and respond to conflict. A major challenge is to secure lasting conflict resolution on the ground. We often see a resurgence of conflicts that we had already deemed resolved or at least reigned in.

This proves that it is crucial to address the whole conflict cycle. In this regard, we much welcome the Joint UN-AU Framework for Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. 

We need to invest in early warning mechanisms, crisis prevention, civilian capabilities, mediation support, and in African capacity to respond to security threats.

In this respect, Germany is an active supporter of mediation efforts — in Sudan, South Sudan and elsewhere. We also support the Mediation Support Unit of the African Union, which increases the efficiency of African-led mediation efforts, and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA), and provide training and specialized equipment to a large number of African troop and police contributors. We have expanded our support to peacekeeping training Institutes in Mali, Ghana and Kenya. Germany is also the largest contributor to the EU’s involvement with currently seven African peace missions.

Second, Germany has made the fight against the proliferation of weapons and ammunition – the “hard fuel” of conflicts –  a priority of our Council membership. We fully support the “Silencing the Guns 2020 Action Plan of the AU”, for example, through involvement with the Mines Advisory Group and the Small Arms Survey. We also welcome the “Continental Plan of Action for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons” that was developed under AU leadership in close cooperation with Africa’s sub-regional organizations.

Implementation is key. We have partnered with the AU to cut the flow of weapons into areas of conflict, improve the control of arms and ammunition in fragile states, and train a new generation of experts to take the lead in arms control. We need to mobilize additional donors to give implementation another push ahead of the symbolic year 2020. Germany stands ready to support the AU in this endeavor.

Third, we support strengthening the protection of human rights. Human rights violations are often initial indicators that a country is heading towards conflict.  We need to monitor such situations and prioritize preventive measures. The failure to protect human rights is deeply intertwined with the aggravation of conflict. This nexus is another priority of our membership in the Security Council.

To prevent abuse and strengthen compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law, we must promote transparency, the rule of law and effective regulation of commercial security providers. Germany welcomes initiatives such as the “Montreux Document”. We encourage all states and stakeholders to align with it.

Peacekeeping operations have a special responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. Adequate human rights components play a crucial role in preventing grave violations against children in armed conflict. We thus strongly encourage the inclusion of appropriate child protection provisions in all United Nations peacekeeping mandates, including for regional peacekeeping operations.

Finally, Germany is a long-standing partner for Africa in development cooperation and efforts to advance beyond it. Because armed conflict is inherently linked to social, political and economic grievances, it is critical that efforts to silence the guns aim at enhancing reconciliation, social cohesion and, in particular, also economic development. Private sector engagement is the key to generating much needed investment, growth and job opportunities in Africa. Therefore, Germany has launched initiatives such as the G20 Compact with Africa, to spur economic activities with and in Africa.

We remain committed to supporting the African Union, the regional and sub-regional organizations under a multilateral approach to “sustaining peace”. Whether it is in the General Assembly, the Council, the Peace-Building Commission or the Human Rights Council: we must use synergies and work closely together to efficiently expend our scarce resources, maintain coherence, and avoid duplication.

Mr. President,

To conclude, our meeting today illustrates the value of a cross-cutting discussion of threats to peace and security with the African Union, subregional organizations, and donor countries. The root causes of violence and conflict in Africa deserve the close attention of this Council. Germany is committed to keeping this topic on the agenda.

Thank you very much.

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