Today is International Day of Peace!
Over the past year, the world has dealt with a pandemic that has deeply affected all aspects of life. The dynamics of world peace have changed as conflicts have decreased in intensity because of a new wave of tension and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. However, the full impact of COVID-19 on peace has not yet been unravelled since the pandemic is still raging.
Violence continues to be a major source of concern for people all over the globe with more than 60% of people worldwide concerned about sustaining injuries from violent crime. Economic conditions have also been worsened by the pandemic and that could result in violent conflict.
In recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world, governments need to focus on creating positive peace. Governments must work toward reducing already existing inequalities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19, in addition to shielding citizens from violence.
In Africa, more specifically in West Africa, parties to armed conflict are strongly urged to seek non-violent ways of solving differences by first of all, responding to the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire on this day.
With great concern, we note the seeming return of coup d’états in the region as a preferred means of changing government. The instability that this method of changing government brings is detrimental, especially during a season when the sub-region is dealing with the effects of COVID-19. Resources must be focused on making full recovery from the effects of the pandemic. Economic recovery must be key on the agendas of West African governments with a focus on drastically reducing youth unemployment since widespread unemployment is linked with insecurity. We must work to curb violence in every form, especially against the vulnerable members of our society – women, children and persons with disability.
This notwithstanding, Global Terrorism Index published on 2019, indicated that the “Centre of gravity” for the Islamic State group IS has moved away from the Middle East to Africa and to some extent South Asia, with total deaths by IS in sub-Saharan Africa up by 67%. “The expansion of ISIS affiliates into sub-Saharan Africa led to a surge in terrorism in many countries in the region,” where “Seven of the 10 countries with the largest increase in terrorism were in sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina Faso, Mozambique, DRC, Mali, Niger, Cameroon and Ethiopia”.
With the threat to peace becoming real in Ghana, it behoves on government to take immediate steps to deal with critical domestic issues i.e. violent demonstrations, farmer-herder conflicts, violent communication through the media and the proliferation of arms. This could be the fertile ground for extremist influencing and infiltration.
The theme for this year “Recovering better for an equitable and sustainable world” is a call to target the underprivileged, vulnerable and marginalized since they are the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that our twin call for a vulnerability sensitive COVID 19 recovery and crack down on domestic threats to peace are mutually reinforcing and provides sustainable paths for resilience and long-term peace.
We urge the Government, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to ensure that their COVID-19 Recovery plans are Vulnerability Sensitive.
We also implore our Security apparatus to remain high on alert and collaborate more with the citizenry for intelligence at the grassroots and local levels.
The achievement of human security must be made a top priority and the youth must be well-catered for in the plans and activities of the government. Women must also be actively involved in working towards achieving security.
Together, we can work to recover better to create an equitable and sustainable world.