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Silencing the guns in Africa: supporting UN-AU efforts, Italy co-sponsors UNSC Resolution

NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 27 – “Silencing the guns in Africa by 2020 is a common objective:  Italy supports the African Union and the UN partnership for peace, mediation and prevention in cooperation with regional and subregional organizations”, Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, told a Security Council Open Debate after the adoption of a Resolution that Italy co-sponsored.

The meeting was opened by Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. Noting that two years of joint UN-African Union (AU) efforts have strengthened the continent’s ability to detect and defuse crises before they escalate, she said that, while “silencing the guns for good requires the participation of all”, it also means “keeping them from firing in the first place”. The Resolution expresses concern that, while the continent faces a challenging security environment, to create an Africa without conflict, it is essentially the responsibility of the AU, its member states and their people and institutions. It also takes note of AU efforts to counter transnational terrorism and, with sub-regional organizations, to conduct peace support operations.

“A new wind of hope is blowing in Africa. After the historical rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the Continent is moving towards a new era of regional stabilization and integration, as shown also by the Revitalized Peace Agreement in South Sudan and the recent Bangui Peace Agreement for the Central African Republic. This should encourage us to step up our efforts”, said Stefanile. Nonetheless, he added, major threats and challenges still threaten peace and security in Africa: terrorism, trans-national organized crime, violence against women and children in armed conflicts, poverty, vulnerability to climate change, just to mention a few.

Italy commends the progress already achieved in operationalizing the African Peace and Security Architecture and especially the Peace Fund of the African Union, which is set to finance also mediation and preventive diplomacy activities. Stefanile recalled that Italy is in favor of using UN-assessed contributions for African-led peace operations, provided that appropriate standards in terms of troop preparedness, training, equipment, financial transparency, human rights compliance, conduct and discipline are met.

Recalling that Italy provides capacity-building and training programs in many African countries, promoting partnerships and fostering peace and sustainable development. the Italian delegate I now wish to focus on two major areas: the fight against the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons and the improvement of governance throughout the Continent.

On the first point, Italy is strongly committed to multilateral efforts in fighting the illicit trade, which contributes to instability, violence and insecurity and undermines the action towards sustainable development. Italy attaches the utmost importance to the universalisation of the relevant multilateral instruments, including the so-called Palermo Protocol (Italy is currently financing the UNODC Global Firearms Programme with a view to assisting States in the Sahel region for its full implementation), while also supporting  any initiative taken and owned by the States of the region, like the Kinshasa and ECOWAS Conventions on Small Arms and Light Weapons control, as well as  the efforts of the African Union to define a Continent-wide action plan to implement the ‘Silencing the guns’ roadmap. (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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