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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.