News / Africa

African Conference Discusses Peacebuilding

Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks to leaders and dignitaries in Kigali, Rwanda, Nov 9, 2011
Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks to leaders and dignitaries in Kigali, Rwanda, Nov 9, 2011
Heather Murdock

Leaders and diplomats from nine African countries, Haiti and several international organizations gathered in Rwanda this week to devise ways to build lasting peace in countries ravaged by war for decades.  

Seventeen years ago last spring, Rwanda was the most violent place on earth.  Today, Kigali parks are neatly manicured and people travel safely at any time of night.  This week in Kigali, leaders from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Haiti, South Sudan and Timor Leste traveled to Rwanda to learn how it’s done.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza said that before peace can be sustainable, a country needs to maintain stability on the streets.  Hundreds of thousands people were killed in the Burundian conflict that ended more than six years ago.  Burundi remains one of the poorest countries on earth, and conflict remains a threat.

"A multitude of Burundians were killed," said Nkurunziza. "Others were forced into exile.  Property was looted, stolen.  Infrastructure was destroyed and the government was also not spared."

But security, he said, is only the first step.  At the end of the two-day Kigali conference, leaders read a statement to present to the United Nations.  Its purpose was to communicate to the international community what Africa thinks it needs to maintain peace in its many post-conflict countries.

The communiqué recommends the U.N. support programs that make sure aid gets into the hands of the people in the villages, rather than remain in the hands of non-government organizations or unaccountable governments.

It also calls for improved educational systems, and the utilization of community-based justice systems, like the Gacaca courts in Rwanda that have tried about a million suspects since the 1994 genocide, in which about 800,000 people were killed.

Leaders also agreed that legal rights for women are a key aspect to building a healthy, peaceful society and spurring economic growth.  United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Peace Building Judy Cheng-Hopkins says post-conflict societies should use temporary affirmative action laws to kick start this growth by incorporating women into public life.

"Women's role in peace building is not about women’s rights," said Cheng-Hopkins. "It’s not about women’s rights.  It’s about good peace building.  It’s about good, durable sustainable peace building and missing out the gender element is peace building is usually a formula for failure."

These leaders also say international aid is necessary for recovery but post-conflict countries in Africa run the risk of becoming an “aid orphan” or an “aid tsunami.”  

Aid orphans like Burundi have to scrap for any help at all, while aid tsunamis, like Haiti, can become overrun with uncoordinated non-government organizations that create a culture of dependence.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame says African countries should be wary of international aid that is not managed at least in part by people on the ground.

"Nationals are best placed to coordinate financial and technical support because they know what opportunities to seize and constraints to overcome," said Kagame. "When countries and their development partners work together along these lines the outcome is more positive and sustainable."

President Kagame has been a leader since Rwanda since the end of the genocide.  Supporters hail the stability he has brought to the country, while critics say his government has become intolerant of opposition or dissent.  Despite that criticism, the president continues to enjoy broad international support.  

At the conference this week, Burundian President Nkurunziza said his country and neighboring Rwanda are united in working to prevent further conflict from engulfing their societies.

"The suffering of Rwandese and Burundians, as we are brothers and sisters sharing almost the same history must serve as a lesson to humanity so that we can rise as one and say “never again. May God bless you and thank you," he said.

Mr. Nkurunziza also congratulated Rwanda in its successful establishment of peace and order, and said the country has shown the world how to recover from genocide and civil war.

You May Like

Unpaid Kurdish Fighters Sign of Economic Woes

Sharp cuts in Kurdistan's budget by Baghdad, falling oil revenue, coping with refugees, inflated public sector have hit regional economy hard More

Koreas Exchange List of Envoys for Family Reunion Talks

Officials will discuss date, venue and number of participants for reunion; Seoul hopes to hold event late this month More

China Targets 197 in Online Speech Crackdown

Nearly 200 punished for 'spreading rumors' online in ongoing crackdown on free speech More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 02, 2015 6:19 PM
Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.

VOA Blogs