CONFLICT PREVENTION AND
Dr. Ade. Adenekan
Executive Director, Pan-African Reconciliation Council and
African Centre for Peace Education
(Being the paper presented at the "PEACE NOW
“What I want to bring
out is how a pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all
directions. And each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that”.
Your Excellency, the Executive Governor of
Honourable Speaker of the
Honourable Chairman of this August forum
My Lords spiritual and temporal,
Colleagues from the civil society groups across the country,
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you today as an active stakeholder in this august assembly and may I seize this golden opportunity to commend the brilliant foresight of the organizers of the forum for their well considered approach to move our dear country forward in their own little way in terms of peace building particularly at this crucial moment of our contemporary history of a novel civilian to civilian political transition the heat of which can apparently be felt all over the place for the past few months.
In opening this address, I would like to refer to the introductory statement of the United Nations’ Charter which is: ”to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to mankind and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal right of men and women and of nations large and small. And to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained etc… Obviously to what extent these objectives have been achieved since the inception of the organization in 1945 can better be seen than imagined particularly when the world had witnessed nearly three hundred wars, most of which occurred in the developing countries owing to internal rather than external factors
According to the existing records over the last 50 years, more than 22 million people have been killed in intra-state wars, 90% of which were civilians while internal displacement had caused immense suffering among the survivors: refugees, internally displaced persons, the traumatized and victims of landmines which made the whole societies to be wrecked and development set back for years.
Existing records indicate that the peace and social justice
The way the erstwhile British colonial masters wedged both the ‘northern and southern’ protectorates of Nigeria together in 1914 still leaves much to be desired and this is the major cause of bloody crises here and there. Be that as it may, the country is sitting on a keg of gun powder if those in the saddle of political power today cannot devise a way whereby all ethnic nationalities in the country can negotiate their terms of peaceful corporate existence at a roundtable otherwise may God forbid the whole Africa having another Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan in its hands. This is in view of the fact that every fourth African is a Nigerian and the continent has had its enough share of refugee and internally displaced persons problems and cannot apparently absorb more.
In retrospect, the greatest problem for us all over
Since the end of the World War II in 1945, nearly all
With the cold war over, the need for alternative weapons market was highly felt by these unscrupulous arms and ammunition manufacturers in the west who eventually found the continent a thriving spot. For them to smile to the banks in most cases, they have to directly or indirectly create bloody conflicts in the erstwhile peaceful environments in Africa by aiding and abetting internal insurrections through their ready supply of lethal weapons of mass destruction to conflicting parties in exchange of naturally endowed resources like gold, diamond, oil, rubber etc.
With the emergence of civilization which made enlightened African citizens to fight for their political emancipation, the colonial overlords, not willing to totally surrender power had to raise up local puppets and sycophants who they manipulated to succeed them when leaving the saddle of power. Backing these ‘new leaders’ with all-coercive means and financial wherewithal, they ensured that there was no brooding of opposition. This enables them to directly and indirectly cart away both the economic and natural resource of their erstwhile colonies like no man’s business. The puppet leaders would, in turn, oppress their own people, throw human rights laws to the dogs and finally become laws in their own ignominious rights with the former colonial masters pulling the strings either directly or indirectly.
One can vividly imagine the Nigerian-Cameroonian crises
over the oil rich Bakassi peninsula, which naturally by fact and by law belongs
Considering the foregoing points one can see that it is not
totally in the interest of the powers that be in Western hemisphere that the
developing countries particularly in Africa should be at peace with themselves
since independence in the 1960s and this is the reason why they clandestinely
initiate one form of conflict or another among them. We all, perhaps, know how
they started in the
Armed with these clandestine documents, King Leopold
convinced the then powers in
The survivors of gun
attacks or mutilation had to work as slaves to shore up profit on the rubber
trade. As the men were on forced labour, the women became victims of rape and
other forms of human indignity. After all said and done, the
In the course of time, continuous international pressure
When the country became independent in 1960,
Since the past 40 years of post-independent
More than one million innocent and hapless people have lost their lives to
the ever-raging genocide in
More than one million innocent and hapless people have lost their lives to
the ever-raging genocide in
- The Roman Catholic missionaries who concocted a bizarre racist anthropology pitting allegedly superior Tutsis against allegedly backward Hutus;
The Catholic hierarchy, with its unique influence in
- The Belgian colonial masters who introduced apartheid-like ethnic identity cards that were later used to identify and murder the Tutsis;
- The French government’s intimate partnership with a Rwandan Hutu government and military that were up to their necks in inciting hatred for, and vicious attacks against any and all Tutsis;
- The Belgian government’s withdrawal of troop protecting 2,000 Tutsis in a school yard, leaving every one of them to be slaughtered.
Against this background as well, anyone who observes the
mind shattering pictures of genocide and ethnic cleansing in many African
countries in the news media would always wonder if the hapless victims were God
created beings. The unimaginable irony of it all is that the weapons used for
these senseless mass killings are not manufactured in
To counter this ugly situation, the United Nations and other regional bodies are urged to do everything humanly possible not only to discourage the manufacture of arms of any description but also that these weapons never find their ways again to any African territory. There must be a strong determination and willful persistence to heavily penalize any individual, corporate boy and country that violates arms transfer laws to any warring country.
All regional and inter-regional governmental bodies are implored to pay more attention to peace-building right from the grassroots populace rather than the highly cost ineffective and counter-productive “peace-keeping” endeavour – an ill-wind that has never blown and will never blow anyone any good. On their own part, the civil society groups should be more determined to develop skills on peace education, promote vigorous peace initiatives, fact-finding, mediation, conflict prevention and resolution.
Apparently, the fate of
Apparently, the fate of
In his preface to “Prevention and Management of Violent Conflicts, Mr. Jan Ponk, Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands said: “In third world countries, economic, political and social transformation is moving at such a rapid pace that traditional mechanisms for conflict resolution have been eroded while new ones are not yet in place. Internal conflict occurs when the process of state formation is still incomplete, when the state is the domain of privileged groups who turn deaf ears to the grievances of those who feel excluded from economic or political entitlements. The underprivileged may resort to violence or if there is a lack of institutional capacity within a state, the ruling elite may try to govern by naked power.
Peace building means creating a countervailing power to violence by strengthening local capacity to handle conflicts in a peaceful way. This needs to be directed towards both the government and the civil society. It may take such forms as contributing to good governance, fostering the development of a democratic culture, encouraging interaction across ethnic, tribal or cultural divides, promoting individual security, stimulating a free press and lessening inequalities. Traditional development activities directed towards poverty alleviation and providing opportunities from development and growth can also be regarded as peace building.
According to item no 11. (
-reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, human rights and social justice, tolerance and solidarity;
- reject violence and endeavor to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation;
- guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society. Nothing, of course can be more altruistic for transforming humanity to environment where “lion and lamb will eat grass together as one of the holy books says.
The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st century note that the process can be successful only when citizens of the world understand global problems. They also have to acquire the “skills to resolve conflicts and struggle for justice in a nonviolent way, live by international standards of human rights and equity, appreciate cultural diversity and respect the earth and each other.” It also observed that such learning could only be achieved with systematic education for peace.
From 11 – 15 May, 1999, over 600 civil society groups embracing over 50,000 people from all walks of life met in the beautiful city of the Hague, in the Netherlands met under the aegis of the Hague Appeal for Peace and came out with a 10 point agenda that was presented to the United Nations. The points in that agenda are that:
(1) Every parliament should adopt a resolution prohibiting their government from going to war, like the Japanese article no. 9
(2) All states should accept compulsory jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court of Justice.
(3) Every government should ratify the International Criminal Court and implement the land mines treaty.
(4) All states should integrate the New Diplomacy, which is the partnership of governments, international organizations and the civil society.
(5) The world cannot be bystanders to humanitarian crises; every creative diplomatic means must be exhausted before resorting to force, then under the United Nations’ authority.
(6) Negotiations for Convention Eliminating Nuclear Weapons should begin immediately.
(7) The trade in small arms should be severely restricted.
(8) Economic rights must be taken as seriously as civil rights.
(9) Peace Education should be made compulsory in every school of the world.
(10) The plan for the global action to prevent war should become the basis for a peaceful world order.
The Hague Appeal for Peace, a
brainchild of the International Peace Bureau also supports the emergent Global
Campaign for Peace Education with all its vigor and vitality. This is by making
it a point of convergence for all individuals and groups across the world. Those
that are committed to the goals of the project carry out the campaign in each
country, community and school. The coordinating offices are both in
As far as we are concerned at
Pan-African Reconciliation Council, peace movement, obviously, is a group of
persons that seeks to discern concrete problems confronting its society and
which they can resolve in a nonviolent way. The myriad of problems differs from
country to country and linked to culture, population, urban or rural environment
and that is why it is necessary to study nonviolence, its philosophy and
religious dimension for the purpose of training on the strategy and tactics of
The need for the civil societies
to develop skills on peace education, promote vigorous peace initiatives,
fact-finding, conflict prevention and resolution cannot be overemphasized and
this is the crux of our existence over the years. It is equally necessary for an
appropriate mechanism for conflict prevention particularly through traditional
African Centres for Peace Education and Training aims at developing a
comparative curriculum which will encourage a preventive policy that takes into
account socio-political, economic, cultural and technological issues. This way,
we can mobilize all available human and material resources for ensuring a
purposeful peaceful corporate existence and pressurize our governments so that,
among other things, they will be tended to reduce arms and defence expenditure,
re-allocate financial resources to science and technology. They must not, as
well, ignore peace education for all and sundries as a corner stone for national
development and grassroots integration.
African Centres for Peace Education and Training aims at developing a comparative curriculum which will encourage a preventive policy that takes into account socio-political, economic, cultural and technological issues. This way, we can mobilize all available human and material resources for ensuring a purposeful peaceful corporate existence and pressurize our governments so that, among other things, they will be tended to reduce arms and defence expenditure, re-allocate financial resources to science and technology. They must not, as well, ignore peace education for all and sundries as a corner stone for national development and grassroots integration.
For this very laudable purpose,
we have drawn up a seven-year plan of activities to meet this daunting
challenge and this can be seen at our web site: www.peace.ca/africa.htm
We have, thanks to the
Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace, equally floated a free of charge electronic
mail service since 1999. The mission is to apply modern is to apply modern
information technology for the promotion of communication and build on one of
our primary missions: ‘advancement of search for peace in
(1) Provide an international communications medium to support African’s community and world peace goals, and to participate in fellowship and sharing of ideas.
(2) Provide a platform for peace information dissemination through posting of newsletters, bulletins and publications etc….
Share fundraising ideas and successful peace-building projects
that might be useful to other people of
(4) Share information and increase fellowship through communications around the world thereby enhancing international peace and understanding of different peoples and cultures,
(5) Develop friendships and increase fellowship through communications around the world thereby enhancing international peace and understanding of different peoples and cultures, and
(6) Promote the UNESCO Culture of Peace within and around the world.
Currently, our main task in the sub-region is the Global Campaign for Peace Education, a project that emerged during the centennial Hague Appeal for Peace global conference of 1999. The purpose is to develop capacities for challenges of unprecedented proportions with an effort to build on 45 years of UNESCO peace educators and associations for the ultimate purpose of implementing the 1994 plan for peace education as endorsed by ministers of educations of 144 countries across the world.
Since peace is not just
the absence of war, violence and hostilities but a situation whereby everyone
has access to all good things of life including basic freedoms, our educational
curricula should be multi-dimensional. The ultimate target will be for our
- Reduce arms and defence expenditure and direct more allocations to education and health.
- Re-allocate financial resources to improve science and technology;
- Support all peace, social justice and human rights networks accredited to institutions.
- Promote conflict prevention, reconciliation and resolution.
- Develop and support programs that will enhance and sustain peace, social justice and human rights.
- Support sub-regional inter-governmental groupings to increase their roles in conflict resolution, prevention and management of internal crises.
- Establish “peace fund” for conflict prevention, management and resolution as well as early warning systems.
- Ensure gender parity in peace negotiation and conflict resolution.
- Make peace education compulsory in all our educational institutions
- Educate peace keepers to respect human rights, criminal and civil procedures and
- Sensitize local communities on the role of women and youth on the Culture of Peace.
Our ultimate goal is to put in a place an exemplary forum
of excellence, research and conflict resolution in the interest of not only