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Ensuring peace in Africa also means tackling broader social issues - Annan

Ensuring peace in Africa also means tackling broader social issues - Annan

Ensuring peace in Africa not only means resolving the continent's many conflicts, and preventing fighting from erupting, but also includes tackling broader social challenges, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in a message delivered in Japan.

"The consolidation of peace is not just a matter of disarmament and de-mining, truth commissions and reconciliation, reconstruction and the repatriation of refugees," Mr. Annan said in a message delivered by his Special Adviser on Africa, Ibrahim Gambari, to a conference on the consolidation of peace in Africa.

"It also means strengthening democracy further, so that people have a vote and a voice in the decisions affecting their lives," Mr. Annan said. "It means good governance - transparent, and accountable. It means respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and it means coming to grips with the AIDS epidemic."

Mr. Annan noted that African leaders have indeed "taken important steps towards helping the continent to consolidate peace and realize its full potential. They have joined their destinies in an African Union. They have agreed on a far-reaching New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)."

The Secretary-General also pointed to the progress made to resolve conflict in Africa. "Angola is now consolidating peace after three decades of war," he said. "In Burundi, Sierra Leone, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africans are showing real determination to settle their conflicts, with tangible results."

However, "such progress merely sets the stage for the hard work ahead," he said, noting that the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire has "provoked tragic rifts along ethnic and religious lines, and caused hundreds of deaths and large-scale displacements of people."

Mr. Annan stressed the importance of international support to the continent's peacekeeping and peacemaking mechanisms and institutions, adding that, "Africa cannot afford further turmoil - but if it erupts, Africa must have the capacity to respond."

The conference entitled, "In Search of Consolidation of Peace in Africa," was co-hosted by the Japan Institute of International Affairs and the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.