African govts urged to promote essential services to the people

Unless African governments make a conscious effort to utilise state resources at their disposal to provide essential services for their people, the hope for a world where human life is respected and rule of law honoured will remain elusive, says  Mr Adama Dieng, the Special Advisor to the United Nations (UN) Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide.

According to him, it was sad that rather than, focus on their core duties of providing essential services such as education, health care and security for their people, most governments engaged in misappropriation of state resources for their personal gains.

“It is always disheartening to see some government around the world neglect their primary duty to fulfil this role and instead, officials engage in misappropriation of state resources for personal gain thus denying delivery of essential services like education, health care and security to their people,” he emphasised.

Mr Dieng who was speaking on the theme: “Prevention and mitigation of armed conflicts: Our collective responsibility” during the sixth edition of the annual Kofi Annan-Dag Hammarskjold Lecture (KADHL), held at Teshie, said credible state institutions and government trusted by the citizenry were essential to building a peaceful society.

In addition he said, developing strong rule of law institutions constituted a central ingredient in the preventive efforts, stressing that “Responsive rule of law institutions were key to stability, conflict prevention and peaceful coexistence.”

He noted that in post-conflict situations and divided societies, rule of law was especially critical to ensuring accountability and rebuilding trust and confidence in state institutions and the governance framework.

“The breakdown of rule of law significantly increases the risk of gross violations of human rights which may lead to atrocious crimes. Many examples abound in Libya, Syria, Somalia, Iraq and elsewhere,” he added.

Mr Dieng noted that rule of law called for accountability for atrocious crimes and other violations of human rights, stressing that “I have always argued that peace and justice are like identical twins joined at the hip. It is difficult to separate them and achieve sustainable peace in post conflict situations and indeed any other society.”

According to him, a credible peace process was one that paid attention to the entire spectrum of justices and reconciliation and that those who had committed serious crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity must be held to account.

He explained that it was only when truth had been established that actual healing could take place and victims given a chance to forgive or seek reparations.

The Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peace Training Centre (KAIPTC), Air vice Marshall Griffiths S. Evans in his welcome address said the narrative of loss of lives and properties, displacement, increased levels of poverty and sexual exploitation must be changed.

He said in spite of the resource endowment and very youthful population of Africa, the continent was still described as “poor in the midst of plenty” and its influence in international politics had profoundly diminished due to deficit of peace, governance and development.

“Instead of making positive peace a staple prerequisite in our political governance, instability as a result of poverty, inequality, conflicts, just to mention, a few have conspired to undermine most of our governance processes,” he said.

The lecture was initially known as the Dag Hammarskjold Annual Lecture and it was instituted to honour the memory and contributions of the late two former Secretary Generals of the UN.

The maiden edition was on the theme: “The Continuing challenges of peace and security in Africa: A West African perspective”  and was delivered by the special representative of the UN Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas.

By Cliff Ekuful and David Takyi

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