Momentum is building as African leaders drive efforts to build and sustain peace across the continent, and international partners are eager and ready to support these efforts.
This compels us to ask how international partners can best support African-led efforts to build and sustain peace. How can we work together to release the enormous potential of all Africans for this generation and those to come?
This week in Aswan, Egypt, leaders from the continent and around the world, including Canada, will join together to tackle these questions at an important Forum organized by the Government of Egypt as part of its Presidency of the African Union (AU).
Canada will be at the table to speak to peace and security issues, as it is one of its top priorities.
Heads of governments, international organizations, financial institutions, the private sector, and civil society will assess challenges to peace, security and development in Africa and identify opportunities to support inclusive, peaceful prosperity.
Canada values its long-standing partnership with Africa, and is keen to be an ever-more effective partner in your efforts to expand trade and investment, to address climate change, and to support peace and security.
We stand ready to support the inspirational vision set out in the African Union’s Agenda 2063 of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”
In ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) earlier this year, African leaders have proven their commitment to take bold steps towards this goal. African countries have put in place the seeds of what can grow to be the largest free trade area in the world.
Canada is, itself, a trading nation. We understand the immense social and economic benefits free trade can bring.
That is why Canada was the founding donor of the African Trade Policy Center, which helped develop homegrown African expertise to support the trade negotiations. Canada intends to expand on this support as our African partners move towards implementing this historic agreement.
Canadian businesses are increasingly attuned to the investment opportunities present on this continent. African countries are leading in bringing new approaches to peace and security.
As part of the Elsie Initiative for Women in Peace Operations, Canada is working closely with Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia to pursue practical and catalytic change to increase the meaningful participation of uniformed women in United Nations (UN) peace operations.
Through advocacy, research and innovation, we are supporting the UN to reach its global targets to make peacekeeping missions more inclusive, effective, and representative of the communities they serve.
The Elsie Initiative is just one example of how the spirit of collaboration between Canada and African countries is having an impact. Africa’s international partners must be equally bold in supporting countries rebuild from conflict.
To secure the resources needed to jumpstart economies and create jobs, while setting countries on a path to sustainable development and peace, the international community needs to rethink the ways and means by which it extends support to countries recovering from conflict.
We must develop innovative tools that unleash the potential of all partners, including the private sector, in sustaining development and peace.
We must take measures to ensure financial stability and resilience to external shocks, and address unsustainable debt burdens so that domestic resources can be used for necessary economic and social investments to catalyze economic recovery, generate employment opportunities, and foster social cohesion.
Doing this well is predicated on listening to our African partners to understand what is most needed. Canada will bring these important considerations to the forefront as chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, a new role for Canada that starts in January 2020.
We will work together with our African partners to strengthen the links between the Peacebuilding Commission, the UN Security Council and other organs of the UN, and the African Union, to ensure that the economic needs of populations affected by conflict are integrated into decisions related to UN peacekeeping operations.
We will work to deepen the Peacebuilding Commission’s links with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank to ensure that financing aimed at fragile and conflict-affected states is a more proactive part of UN decisions on peacekeeping operations.
Canada can be counted on to help develop forward-looking approaches to international peace and security, from peacekeeping and policing to peacebuilding and transitions.
We will work together with you to sustain peace, address climate change, promote economic security, advance gender equality, and strengthen multilateralism. We will encourage and promote enhanced collaboration between the UN Security Council and the African Union.
We will also continue to break down the silos between security and development, and between governments, the private sector and civil society, as well as between traditional and non-traditional partners.
Nearly 20 years ago, our collaboration with African partners was instrumental in passing the landmark UN Security Council Resolution 1325. It recognized women as not only victims of conflict, but powerful agents of change whose voices are essential to prevent, end, and rebuild after war.
At the Aswan Forum, on the UN Peacebuilding Commission, and hopefully on the UN Security Council for 2021-22, Canada will continue working to ensure that people most affected by policies have a say in creating them.
We recognize the crucial and diverse contributions of African youth, and the global leadership and potential economic power that exists, including that of African women.
We are eager to continue learning from your experiences and sharing our own successes and ongoing challenges in drawing on the talents of entire communities, and creating prosperity that leaves no one behind.
Canada is honoured to support Egypt’s AU Presidency as a strategic partner of the Aswan Forum which we view as an important platform to address the interlinkages between peace and development on the continent.
We commend the Government of Egypt for this initiative and look forward to working together with our African partners to advance your vision of a more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable future.
Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security and Canada’s representative on the International Advisory Board of the Aswan Forum.
Antoine Chevrier, Canada’s representative to the African Union and Ambassador of Canada to Ethiopia and Djibouti
Jess Dutton, Ambassador of Canada to Egypt
Opinions expressed in View articles are solely those of the authors.