SPEECH DELIVERED BY PRESIDENT LUNGU AT THE AFRICAN UNION PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL RETREAT

I AM DELIGHTED TO WELCOME YOU ALL TO LUSAKA, ON BEHALF OF MY GOVERNMENT AND THE PEOPLE OF ZAMBIA.
IT IS INDEED A GREAT HONOUR TO HAVE SUCH AN OPPORTUNITY TO HOST ON OUR SOIL THIS VERY IMPORTANT RETREAT THAT WILL SET THE TONE FOR A MORE PROACTIVE PLAN OF ACTION TOWARDS ELIMINATING CONFLICTS AND SILENCING THE GUNS ON OUR CONTINENT.
ZAMBIA SHALL REMAIN COMMITTED TO THE CAUSE OF THE AFRICAN UNION (AU) AND THE SPIRIT OF AGENDA 2063, AT THE HEART OF WHICH IS WORKING TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE A PEACEFUL, INTEGRATED AND PROSPEROUS AFRICA.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS,
IN 2013, DURING THE CELEBRATION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ORGANISATION OF AFRICAN UNITY (OAU)/AU, THE ASSEMBLY MADE A SOLEMN DECLARATION WHICH STRESSED, AMONG OTHERS, AND I QUOTE:
“OUR DETERMINATION TO ACHIEVE THE GOAL OF A CONFLICT-FREE AFRICA, TO MAKE PEACE A REALITY FOR ALL OUR PEOPLE AND TO RID THE CONTINENT OF WARS, CIVIL CONFLICTS, HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, HUMANITARIAN DISASTERS AND VIOLENT CONFLICTS AND TO PREVENT GENOCIDE. WE PLEDGE NOT TO BEQUEATH THE BURDEN OF CONFLICTS TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF AFRICANS AND UNDERTAKE TO END ALL WARS IN AFRICA BY 2020.” END OF QUOTE.
IT WAS FROM THIS DECLARATION THAT THE AGENDA, “SILENCING THE GUNS – OWNING THE FUTURE” WAS COINED.
SILENCING THE GUNS AND CREATING A WAR-FREE CONTINENT FOR PEACE AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IS OUR CALLING AND OUR GREATEST PREOCCUPATION TODAY. IT IS AND REMAINS AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO HUMANITY AND POSTERITY ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT.

YOUR EXCELLENCIES, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS
I WISH TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO COMMEND THE AFRICAN UNION PEACE AND SECURITY COUNCIL FOR HAVING ORGANISED AND CONVENED SEVERAL RETREATS WHICH HAVE IDENTIFIED AND DISCUSSED ROOT CAUSES TO CONFLICTS IN AFRICA.
THE LAST BEING THE DURBAN RETREAT HELD IN DECEMBER, 2014, WHICH SOUGHT TO DEVELOP A ROAD MAP AND DEVISE STRATEGIES.
THE STRATEGIES INCLUDED TACKLING ILLICIT PROLIFERATION OF SMALL ARMS, PROMOTING RECONCILIATION, PREVENTING ILLICIT RESOURCE OUTFLOWS FROM AFRICA AND STRENGTHENING CONTINENTAL SECURITY AND DEFENCE INSTITUTIONS.
WITH THESE PROPOSED STRATEGIES THE TASK DURING THIS RETREAT WILL BE TO BUILD ON AND IMPROVE THESE STRATEGIES AS WE DRAW UP A PLAN OF ACTION TO YIELD TANGIBLE RESULTS.
THE IMPORTANCE, THEREFORE, OF THIS RETREAT IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE OUR NOBLE CAUSE CANNOT BE OVER-EMPHASIZED. THE TIME IS NOW TO CHART THE COURSE OF OUR FUTURE FOR NOT ONLY OURSELVES BUT FUTURE GENERATIONS TO WHOM WE SHOULD LEAVE A LEGACY OF PEACE!!

YOUR EXCELLENCIES, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS
THE POLITICAL WILL TO DO AWAY WITH CONFLICT SITUATIONS CANNOT BE DOUBTED. THE DESIRE FOR PEACE AND STABILITY IS AS STRONG ACROSS THE AFRICAN CONTINENT, AS IT IS CLEARLY EVIDENT IN THE ASSEMBLY DECISIONS TAKEN OVER THE YEARS, WHICH REFLECT THE DETERMINATION BY AFRICAN LEADERS TO CREATE A PEACEFUL INTEGRATED AND PROSPEROUS CONTINENT.
HOWEVER, IT IS CRITICAL AND URGENT THAT THIS WILLINGNESS AS EXPRESSED BY OUR LEADERS IS TRANSFORMED INTO PRACTICAL ACTIONS BOTH AT THE NATIONAL AND CONTINENTAL LEVEL.
YOUR EXCELLENCIES, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS
THERE ARE FUNDAMENTAL CONCERNS THAT WE NEED TO ADDRESS AROUND THIS TOPIC, WHICH IF LEFT UNABATED CAN CONTINUE TO HAVE FAR-REACHING CONSEQUENCES FOR THE WELLBEING OF OUR PEOPLE.
AS WE ALL KNOW, THE GROWING AVAILABILITY OF SMALL ARMS IN POST-CONFLICT SITUATIONS HAS BEEN AND STILL REMAINS A MAJOR FACTOR IN THE RAPID UPSURGE IN THE NUMBER OF CONFLICTS.

THIS HAS HAD THE EFFECT OF NOT ONLY HINDERING SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, LONG AFTER CONFLICTS HAVE ENDED, BUT CREATING HUMANITARIAN CRISES, ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION AND INCREASED POVERTY ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT.
MOST OF THESE WEAPONS ARE PURCHASED LEGITIMATELY BY COUNTRIES BUT SOME ARE ACQUIRED CLANDESTINELY BY NON-STATE ARMED GROUPS AND PRIVATE INDIVIDUALS.
MANY OF THESE ILLEGAL ARMS ORIGINATE FROM OUTSIDE AFRICA AND THEN LAND IN THE HANDS OF CRIMINAL ELEMENTS, TERRORIST GROUPS AND WAR-MONGERS, CAUSING UN-TELLING EFFECTS ON OUR PEOPLE.
WE ARE ALL AWARE THAT THIS HAS RESULTED IN MILLIONS OF DEATHS AND DISPLACED PERSONS AND WOMEN INCLUDING CHILDREN WHO HAVE SUFFERED UNIMAGINABLE TRAUMA. THIS CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE!

YOUR EXCELLENCIES, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS
THE AFRICAN UNION AND ITS PREDECESSOR INSTITUTION, THE ORGANISATION OF AFRICAN UNITY HAS OVER THE DECADES SOUGHT TO PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE PEACE AND STABILITY ON THE CONTINENT.
FOR THIS REASON, THE CHARTER OF THE AFRICAN UNION WAS ACCORDINGLY FRAMED TO PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPERSTRUCTURE UPON WHICH VARIOUS POLITICALLY BINDING AGREEMENTS AND LEGALLY BINDING TREATIES WOULD HINGE.
SEVERAL OAU/AU LEGAL INSTRUMENTS AND AGREEMENTS HAVE SINCE BEEN CRAFTED INCLUDING, THE TERRORISM CONVENTION OF 1999, THE TERRORISM PROTOCOL OF 2004, AS WELL AS THE NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE-ZONE OF 1996. HOWEVER, MANY OF THEM HAVE NOT BEEN IMPLEMENTED BECAUSE SEVERAL COUNTRIES HAVE NOT RATIFIED THEM.
ONE OF THE KEY INSTRUMENTS TO ATTAINING OUR GOAL HERE TODAY IS THE AFRICAN CHARTER ON DEMOCRACY, ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE (2007) WHICH HAS ONLY BEEN RATIFIED BY TWENTY-FOUR (24) COUNTRIES.

THIS CHARTER IS A TOOL AIMED AT STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT. THIS WILL BE DONE BY AMONG OTHER THINGS, BRINGING TO AN END THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES OF GOVERNMENTS, WHICH IS ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL CAUSES OF INSECURITY, INSTABILITY AND VIOLENT CONFLICT IN AFRICA.
ZAMBIA IS A SIGNATORY TO THE CHARTER AND I WISH TO URGE THIS AUGUST GATHERING TO LOOK AT TANGIBLE WAYS IN WHICH WE CAN ENSURE THAT AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS RATIFY THIS INSTRUMENT.
GOING FORWARD, I WISH TO PROPOSE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE (PRC) SUB-COMMITTEE ON DEMOCRACY, ELECTIONS, GOVERNANCE AND HUMAN RIGHTS.
THE SUB-COMMITTEE WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR MONITORING ALL RELATED ACTIVITIES AND REPORTING REGULARLY AT EACH AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT.
THIS, I BELIEVE, WOULD PROVIDE A PLATFORM FOR EARLY IDENTIFICATION AND THE APPLICATION OF PRE-EMPTIVE MEASURES WHERE THERE IS DEFAULT.

THIS RETREAT SHOULD THEREFORE SERIOUSLY REFLECT ON THE QUESTION OF HOW TO STRENGTHEN THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK IN WHICH AFRICAN UNION MEMBER STATES INTERACT AND DEVELOP WORKABLE STRATEGIES TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE.
YOUR EXCELLENCIES, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS
WITH THE GROWING RADICALISATION AND VIOLENT RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM, WE NEED TO COME UP WITH STRATEGIES TO PROMOTE RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE. THIS WILL ENSURE COLLABORATION AND STRENGTHENING OF COUNTER-TERRORISM MEASURES TO CURB THIS VICE.
WE ARE ALL ALIVE TO THE FACT THAT RELIGIOUSLY MOTIVATED CONFLICTS HAVE SPARKED RISING CASES OF REFUGEES AND INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS. ALL OF US SHOULD THEREFORE BE CONCERNED WITH THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS SCOURGE ON PEACE AND SECURITY.
FOR THIS REASON, YOUR CONSIDERATION OF PRACTICAL STEPS TO SILENCING OF THE GUNS WOULD BE INCONCLUSIVE WITHOUT SERIOUS SCRUTINY OF THESE ISSUES.

ONE ITALIAN POET, DANTE ALIGHIERI ONCE SAID: “A MIGHTY FLAME FOLLOWETH A TINY SPARK”. WE THEREFORE NEED TO ENGAGE SERIOUSLY IN PREVENTIVE DIPLOMACY TO AVERT THE ESCALATION OF DISPUTES BEFORE THEY DEGENERATE INTO MASSACRES.
AS I CONCLUDE, LET ME UNDERSCORE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE INVOLVEMENT OF WOMEN IN ALL OUR EFFORTS. IT IS INDEED OVERWHELMINGLY EVIDENT, AND EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT WOMEN HAVE THE VIRTUES THAT CAN ENGENDER PEACE, AND BRING ABOUT THE NECESSARY PROGRESS THAT HAS ELUDED US FOR SO LONG.
PRACTICAL STEPS MUST BE TAKEN HENCEFORTH TO USE WOMEN MEDIATORS AND NEGOTIATORS TO WORK ON RECONCILIATION OF WARRING PARTIES.
AFTER ALL, IT IS OUR WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO BARE THE BRUNT OF THESE ATROCITIES. WE CANNOT ACHIEVE PEACE AND SECURITY WITHOUT THE INCLUSIVE PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN.
THE SOLEMN DECLARATION ON GENDER EQUALITY IN AFRICA ADOPTED IN 2004 CALLED ON THE NEED TO ENSURE THE FULL AND EFFECTIVE PARTICIPATION AND REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN PEACE PROCESSES, INCLUDING PREVENTION.

ON BEHALF OF MY FELLOW HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT OF THE AFRICAN UNION, I WISH TO EXPRESS OUR ANXIETY TO SEE PROGRESS ON THIS IMPORTANT MATTER AND LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING AND CONSIDERING YOUR REPORT ARISING FROM THIS RETREAT, AT THE JANUARY 2017 SUMMIT.
I WISH YOU WELL IN YOUR DELIBERATIONS AND AN ENJOYABLE STAY IN LUSAKA.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL!

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