3 April 2014

Liberia: Pres. Sirleaf - Every Nation Is At Risk

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has warned that every nation, directly or indirectly, is at risk as evidenced by what is happening in trouble spots around the world, signaling out the turmoil in Syria, Egypt, and Ukraine, among others.

"It behooves us all to come up with the responses to ensure more equity, more participation, more education and all of those things that enable every citizen to feel like they have a stake in the future of their country and that stake will ensure peace, stability and equal development to all," she said.

According to a Dispatch from Brussels, Belgium, the Liberian leader, who also chairs the High Level Panel on Fragile States, made the statement during the launch of the panel's report, "Ending Conflict and Building Peace in Africa: A Call To Action" and a panel discussion titled: "Addressing Conflict and Fragility in Africa" on the fringes of the 4th European Union - Africa Summit expected to begin on Wednesday, April 2.

President Sirleaf stressed that it is important that all of those who have invested so much in Africa's development join in the call of the report for adequate policy responses to disruptive social, economic and environmental changes by building resilience in states and societies.

"We need stronger links of institutions and partnership among the private sector, among civil society, all of the institutions that are part of this collective political arena involved in managing the processes of development," the Liberian leader urged, adding, "That's how we get sustainable peace, sustainable development.

Commenting further, the Liberian leader said the report endorses the principles of the New Deal for the empowerment of fragile states. "The New Deal as you know calls for stronger ownership - something very consistent with Africa's own priorities whether we look at the long term perspective (Africa 2063) or the Common Position in the Post-2015 Agenda." She added that Africa must take charge of its own destiny; must be the one to determine its priorities and its future."

Ghanaian President, H. E. John Mahama, also a panelist at the event, said peace, security and stability, respect for human rights, constitutional governance do pay in terms strengthening states and institutions in any country. He named transparency, accountability and the strong fight against corruption as important ingredients for a better Africa.

President Mahama highlighted the issue of inequality among citizens of a country that usually provoke uprising. "Addressing inequality by decentralization and empowering the people to take the destiny of the country into their own hands is a very important issue that we must build into and strengthen."

He named support to democratic institutions, including direct support for capacity building to these democratic institutions especially the three branches of government as well civil society institutions. President Mahama warned that challenges like youth unemployment is critical to the growth and development of Africa, considering that Africa's youth population is the fastest growing.

Other panelists at the event included the Commissioner for Development of the European Commission, Mr. Andris Piebalgs; and members of the High Level Panel on Fragile States, Ms. Sarah Cliffe and Mr. Gilbert Houngbo. Also making an input was the Special Representative for International Dialogue on Peace-building and State-building, Ms. Pia Stjernvail.

The report notes that Africa is changing at an extraordinary speed. The combined pressures of a growing population, environmental changes and rapid economic growth will transform the lives and livelihood of Africans at an unprecedented pace.

It says, though these changes are in many respects positive, providing the impetus for Africa's continuing development. But with change also comes risks. Rapid urbanization, youth unemployment, inequality and social exclusion, new natural resources finds and a changing climate all have the potential to place African societies under considerable strain. "Urgent attention must be given to the transition of national movements into state-building and peace-building processes," the report warns.

The panel encouraged the African Development Bank to develop new strategies for promoting youth employment, including supporting the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of young combatants, engaging youth organizations in community rehabilitation, promoting youth entrepreneurship through finance and training programmes, and helping the labor market work for young people.

They further recommended that the Bank develop new instruments for supporting private investment in fragile contexts, by blending concessional funds with its private-sector window to enable it to support strategic investments with a wider social return.

They recommended the Bank to help the capacity fo Regional Economic Communities to address drivers of fragility, in areas such as trans-boundary water resources and the extractive industries, among others.

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