The Civil Society Forum says that Africa must acknowledge the presence of deadly conflicts that persist and undermine our collective efforts to ensure human, national, and international security. These conflicts pose a significant threat to peace and stability, vital for economic development and the realisation of a united Africa.
These were the opening remarks by Ms. Bonolo Makgale, Programme Manager for the Centre for Human Rights at a civil society organisations meeting discussing “Violent conflict in Africa: Geopolitical Implications and Impact on Africa’s Democratic Agenda”, this morning.
The meeting took place on the side-lines of the Second Ordinary Session of the Sixth Pan-African Parliament (PAP). The CSO Forum brings together participants drawn from various civil society organisations in Africa, Academia, and Parliamentary representatives.
PAP and the Forum have a long-standing partnership that was established in 2017 and was established to enhance the capacity of CSOs to engage with the PAP. It aims to foster closer collaborations between and among CSOs and with the PAP, in order to ensure avenues for greater involvement and collaboration.
“Throughout our discussions today, we will focus on critical objectives centred around Africa's conflict challenges and their geopolitical implications. We will explore the vital role of civil society in promoting peace, human rights, and democracy, even in the face of repression,” Ms. Makgale explained earlier today.
As the keynote speaker to the meeting, Prof. Andriano Nuvunga, Director of the Centre for Democracy and Development and Chairperson of the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network, reflected on conflict in Africa saying the continent has the stigma of being at war with itself and that our democracies have failed to give the people democratic dividends.
“On one hand, democratic mechanisms don’t offer meaningful participation. On the other hand, democracies have failed to generate the transformation that would take millions out of poverty. Remember in Africa we were all excited when we embarked on the third wave of democratisations in the early 90s. Currently however, there are about 20 active conflicts in our 49 states. I look at the conflicts as reflecting the nature of Africa’s democracies,” he said.
The plenary session reflected on the current conflict in Sudan saying that violence continues to ravage the country, jeopardising its fragile transition to civilian-led democracy and posing a threat to regional stability. In other parts of the continent, repressive measures persist, undermining democratic institutions and eroding human rights.
Ms. Makgale said that these examples represent only a fraction of the repressive regimes and gross human rights violations and democratic processes prevalent across the continent.
“Protecting human rights finds its greatest strength within a sustainable democratic framework. As civil society organizations and academia, we have a pivotal role in advancing these principles and fostering a culture of democracy, equality, and inclusivity. To this end, the Centre for Human Rights, in collaboration with the Pan-African Parliament and civil society partners, has established the PAP Civil Society Forum. We firmly believe that by enhancing the visibility and appreciation of the PAP's role, we can collectively contribute to building a more democratic and rights-respecting Africa,” she concluded.