The Declaration on Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2020 was adopted by the Assembly in 2013, the African Union’s 50th anniversary year. This signalled the central importance of peace and security for Africa’s integration agenda.

Indeed, peace is the precondition for everything else we may wish to do together as a continent, including trade, infrastructure, and human development.

I commend the African Union Commission, as well as the High Representative for Silencing the Guns, Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, for the efforts made toward fulfilling this mandate.

However, we are still very far from ending conflict in Africa. In some places, there is even backsliding. Africa’s citizens, of course, are the ones who pay the price. The self-evident need to renew this program for another ten years is an acknowledgment that we have collectively fallen short.

Progress has been made in strengthening the African Union’s ability to contribute meaningfully to peace and security. One example is the operationalization of the African Union Peace Fund, which has been funded by Member States at the highest level since it was established in 1993, with nearly $200 million.

This is a good step. But we must recognise that conflict cannot be ended by treating the symptoms or cleaning up messes after the fact.

The only sustainable way to silence the guns in Africa is to deal directly and swiftly with the political and economic factors that create the conditions for violence and strife in the first place. Accomplishing this is within our power as a continent and it must be our priority.

Mr Chairperson, I thank you for your kind attention.