November 7-9, 2013
Theme: “Moral and Innovative Leadership: Building Sustainable Peace for a Prosperous Future”
The following is a message from His Excellency Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo President ECOWAS Commission, presented by Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini-Suleiman, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security at the Global Peace Leadership Conference November 8, 2013 in Abuja, Nigeria
Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, My Lords, Spiritual and temporary, distinguished ladies and gentleman; I am honored and privileged to deliver this message of solidarity from the ECOWAS commission on this auspicious forum on behalf of the president of the Commission, His Excellency Kadre Desire Ouedraogo
First of all, I would like to express profound gratitude to the international host communities, the host committee of the Global Peace Foundation for the invitation extended to the commission.
I would also like to pay homage to the crème of African leadership here present for their pioneering role and inspirational leadership in Africa’s drive towards good governance, stability, prosperity and human dignity.
Excellencies, and Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Global Peace Leadership Conference and Festival could not have been held at a more opportune time. And the organizers could not have chosen a more appropriate theme for it than, “Leadership for development and sustainable peace.” This is because while the African continent today, on the one hand, boasts some of the fastest growing economies of the world, with the West African Region recording an annual growth between six and seven percentage points in the last few years.
But on the other hand, the forces against progress have been at work, undermining peace and stability through the promotion of identity based hatred, extremism and insurgency. In this regard, the upsurge of terrorism in the Sahel Region, piracy in the maritime domains of East, Central and West Africa, and other forms of transnational organized crime, constitute veritable time bombs under the continent’s security and development agenda.
The continent’s young women and men find themselves at the crossroads of this contradictory trajectory. Two thirds of West Africa’s population is under 30 years of age. More than a quarter of the total population is aged from 15-30 years, representing the region with prospects as well as formidable demographic, developmental, and security challenges.
Demographic category constitutes the most dynamic and productive force, spearheading the efforts towards prosperity and dignity by its enthusiasm, curiosity, commitment to democracy and good governance, and through innovative enterprise. At the same time, this age bracket, often the victim of marginalization and lack of opportunities, provides the fodder and foot soldiers for the evils deeds of the entrepreneurs of mindless violence and instability, as well as a causal factor in the unnecessary deaths emanating from the desperate attempts young people to embark on irregular migration to Europe by dangerous means.
The recent deaths of hundreds of would-be African migrants off the coasts of Italy, Spain and the Sahara Desert should sound the note of alarm to all of us.
On the issue of inspirational leadership, the key to the transformation of these dynamics in favor of stability, progress and human dignity, lies in moral and inspirational leadership. This should be provided by a social contract among all concerned that is the youths themselves, our families, local community groups, and faith groups, including civil society, the private sector, importantly governments, regional and international organizations as well as our development partners.
Inspirational leadership includes creating time, space, and conditions to enable the young people to build their spiritual, political, economic autonomy to manifest their responsibility towards self and community to unleash their creative talents and to contribute to the harmonious peaceful development of their communities.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the World Programme of Action for Youth in the Year 2000 and Beyond, the United Nations acknowledged fifteen priority areas in addressing youth issues. The priorities can be clustered into three main areas: the economy, civil society, and youth at risk. This mapping, which was used as a basis for the UN Action Plan for youth provides the elements pertinent to our overall development and empowerment of our youth, and a basis for the prevention violence and the protection of young people.
ECOWAS plays a key role as regional facilitators in these endeavors, by harmonizing norms and practices, establishing minimum standards to guide the behaviors of member states. Conscious of the nexus between security and development, the Heads of State and government in our region in 1999, adopted the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, management, resolution and peacekeeping and security. This forms the regions’ central normative framework underpinning its peace and security architectures. It was supplemented in 2001 by the protocol on democracy and development, which sets out the constitutional convergence principles for ECOWAS membership and outlines the rights, roles and responsibilities of national stakeholders, including women and the youth.
Among ECOWAS initiatives towards sustainable peace is its Conflict Prevention Framework adopted in 2008, which has key components addressing youth empowerment and women in peace. We also have a youth and sports development center in Ouagadougou, which promotes exchange programs and skill and entrepreneurial development among young women and men. The organization also interfaces with civil society through the promotion of peace through several networks, including the West African Civil Society Forum and the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP)
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
ECOWAS is indeed prepared and determined to develop productive partnerships with all stakeholders, including this Forum in all areas of conflict prevention and youth empowerment. As the ECOWAS Vision 2020 stipulates, we have a responsibility to facilitate the emergence of a peaceful, fully integrated, conflict-resilient, prosperous, democratic and rights-based West African Community of equal opportunities.
If we invest in our youth, we stand a better chance of consolidating our wealth creation, and drastically reducing extremism, violence and criminality. As the Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, representing Nigeria at the ECOWAS commission, I want to put on record, the key leadership and support Nigeria has demonstrated in promoting peace and security in our sub-region. I have no doubt that the reflections in this conference, blessed with the presence of men and women of true inspirational leadership qualities of intellectual, entrepreneurial, innovative acumen, will go a long way to consolidating the enormous potential of the leaders of today – that is our youth – to contribute to democracy, development, and peace in the continent under the vision of One Family under God.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.