Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga at Opening Plenary of 2015 Global Peace Leadership Conference East Africa

Global Peace Foundation
July 24, 2015

Zanzibar, Tanzania | July 21 – 24, 2015
“Promoting Peace, Security and Sustainable Development in East Africa”

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!

It is a pleasure to join you in this year’s global peace leadership conference. Let me applaud the conveners for bringing together stakeholders from the political, religious, government and civil society to deliberate strategies to promote peace, security and sustainable development in the East Africa region.

It is evident that one of the key challenges facing our region today is identity based conflict. We have ethnic-based conflict. We have political party based-conflicts. We have conflicts being waged in the name of religion. We are fighting race-related wars and there are conflicts based on region and social status.

As statesmen in the region, as leaders from all segments, we have the moral responsibility of addressing these conflicts through moral and innovative leadership, influencing policy and encouraging volunteerism. Service above self is generally agreed to be a better way to ensure stability and progress in society, although it is always practised in breach.

As leaders, we should encourage ethical societies anchored on shared values. When leaders model behaviours that encourage the opposite, it yields divisions in society.
Divisions provide clear entry points for conflicts along all sorts of lines including religion and ethnicity. The human race is by nature diverse and that is the beauty of it all.

As leaders, we must advocate policies that address historic injustices in our countries. Recent terror attacks in Kenya have taught us that perpetrators of violence take advantage of existing grievances to recruit members to their nasty courses.

There is evidence that justice and fairness wins hearts. Yet as we face challenges like terrorism in our region, we have we have to resist the temptation to resort to measures like extra judicial killings targeting specific segments of society.

This approach only strengthens the feeling of isolation and helplessness among targeted communities. It creates anger and drives more people into radical ideology.

To build peace and stability, we must confront incidents of insecurity and conflict associated with regional grievances. Glaring disparities in economic wellbeing among ethnic or regional groups and the consequent marginalization of certain regions and communities are one of the root causes of insecurity and conflict.

Research has shown that in Africa and elsewhere, inequality causes conflict and weakens national cohesion. It is most important that we address these.

We should also strive to influence policy along the areas of youth employment.

The Kenyan government has taken some steps to address this issue. However, I believe that much more can still be done. This is because unemployed youth pose a security risk to our countries. I urge the private sector to complement the government efforts by providing employment opportunities and supporting innovation.

Ladies and gentlemen,
You will agree with me that change of policy will not take a day or two. As we push for this change, we need to encourage our young people to engage in service initiatives within their communities. Through such, they will not only transform their community but also develop skills that will open up more opportunities for them.

As statesmen, we possess skills and knowledge that have accumulated from years of service. I urge you to create opportunities of transferring the same to younger generations.

Ladies and gentlemen,
I pledge my support for the Africa Leadership Mission on Peace-Building, Young Leadership and Service.

I wish you fruitful deliberations and hope that the outcomes of this conference will go a long way in promoting sustainable peace and development across the region.
Thank you.

 

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