I thank His Excellency the President of Mozambique for convening this meeting, which gives us the opportunity to discuss the linkages between peacebuilding and development in Africa. I also thank the speakers for their informative presentations.
Switzerland fully supports efforts to achieve sustainable peace in Africa, a key element of Agenda 2063. To achieve this, the root causes must be addressed and poverty in all its forms must be eradicated. For as we have just heard, unfortunately, weapons still speak too loudly in Africa, but also in other parts of the world. The illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition continues to sow violence, threaten peace, tear at the fabric of society and impede development.
In view of this need for action, Switzerland would like to highlight the following four points:
First, while the supply of weapons must be reduced, the factors that drive demand must also be addressed. The focus must be on preventing violence by considering the full range of political, economic and social factors in conflict. The cycle of violence can only be broken if the cycle of impunity is also broken. It is therefore essential that violations of human rights and international humanitarian law are investigated and perpetrators brought to justice. Integrating armed violence reduction and accountability more systematically into peacebuilding and development efforts is thus critical to achieving sustainable results.
Second, it is important to strengthen the capacity of local governments to deliver equitable and sustainable public services, especially in peripheral regions and conflict areas. This improves the confidence of the population and helps to restore the presence of the state. Sustainable Development Goal 16 calls for the creation of peaceful and inclusive societies and effective, accountable and transparent public institutions. With this in mind, Switzerland is supporting a project to improve education planning in Niger, particularly in emergency situations.
Third, humanitarian, peacebuilding and development efforts must be sensitive to the links between climate change and conflict. Many African states are familiar with the impact of droughts and floods. Food insecurity and mass population displacement can exacerbate conflict, and increase the risk of recruitment by armed groups. There is an urgent need for states to reduce their vulnerability to climate shocks in order to enhance peace and security.
Fourth, dialogue is fundamental to defuse tensions before they erupt into conflict and to resolve existing conflicts. This dialogue should systematically include women, youth and other actors, depending on the context, such as traditional and religious leaders. In line with its tradition of mediation and good offices, Switzerland promotes dialogue platforms, including at the regional level. For example, we support the Nairobi process to advance peace in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN regional offices for West Africa and the Sahel and for Central Africa also play a key role, notably by promoting the creation of spaces for dialogue in collaboration with the African Union and sub-regional organizations.
The Silencing the Guns initiative provides African solutions to African challenges. It enables the African Union and its regional mechanisms to strengthen their capacity to manage conflicts and crisis situations, including through cross-border cooperation.
Weapons will not be silenced as long as they seem more accessible than a job or vocational training. I therefore address all actors, here and on the ground, who are working for sustainable peace in Africa. Our peace efforts must go hand in hand with efforts to build confidence, strengthen institutions and the rule of law, promote social cohesion, uphold human rights and international humanitarian law, and create economic opportunities, especially for young people.