9 December 2012

Uganda: EU's Nobel Prize an Endorsement of Her Efforts

As the Ambassador of European Union (EU) to Uganda, I am very happy and honoured today, when the EU is set to receive the Nobel Peace Price in Oslo, Norway.

Just as the chairman of the Norwegian Nobel committee, Thorbjørn Jagland, said, when announcing the prize, the EU has, for more than 60 years, contributed to reconciliation, peace and democracy in Europe. Europe ? a continent which had consumed itself in war for centuries ? has become a continent unified in peace and democratic values, and one of the stronger supporters of peace throughout the world.

Former enemies are now united in a common endeavour to ensure long-lasting peace. Since the agreement that laid its foundation, the EU has offered membership to country after country, bolstering their democracies and including them in the world's largest internal market.

Today, the EU continues to attract aspiring members and close partners, and serves as a stabilising force beyond its borders. Nobody should underestimate the strength of the political bonds holding the European Union together, not even in a time of economic crisis like the current one.

Building a continent of peace is a truly common achievement. It is not only the work of leaders and institutions but of generations of Europeans from 27 countries, who have overcome division and got to know each other better and learnt to work together. It is, therefore, truly a prize for 500 million European citizens. I am proud to be one of them as I am proud to serve the excellent relationship between Uganda and the EU.

However, despite all these achievements, we should not be complacent. With their prestigious recognition, the Nobel committee also sent a clear message to the EU: we must protect a union built on six decades spent in the pursuit of peace and away from disintegration and resurgent nationalism. Securing and strengthening Europe as we know it, united in peace and democracy, is a constant, day-to-day task.

Indeed, this prize is also an inspiration for us, as Europeans, to continue our work for younger generations as well as for other regions in the world where conflict and instability prevail. The promotion of peace, democracy and human rights are core values in our external as well as in our domestic policies. I am happy and proud to be part of opening a new chapter in the EU's external relations through a unique creation - the European External Action Service (EEAS).

It is my task, as the ambassador of the EU to Uganda, to implement and coordinate EU's policies in and towards Uganda. In the areas of democracy and human rights, the EU in Uganda, through the EU Delegation, has supported civil society as well as state and non-state actors for many years and under different programmes.

We are - under our current 10th EDF Democratic Governance and Accountability Programme (DGAP) - a proud partner to the Parliament in their important work of exercising democratic powers over the executive as well as to numerous other agencies and partners working to improve social and democratic accountability in Uganda. We also work with the Police and the Prisons to support observance of human rights in the respective services.

I would like to express the very strong wish by the EU and from myself that we find a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflicts in the region. To contribute to building peace and stability is a core value for us in Uganda. It is our shared objective to provide support in order to foster and consolidate peace and stability in the region. The fight against poverty and for good governance is an essential component of this support.

Today, we will be reminded of achievements as well as coming challenges when Presidents Van Rompuy, Schultz and Barroso proudly receive the prize on behalf of the EU. Despite having come a long way together as the European Union, we recognise that the road ahead is demanding and challenging in many aspects. We are, however, determined to continue our work for peace, democracy and human rights not only in Europe but across the globe.

The author is EU Ambassador/Head of Delegation to Uganda.

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