ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- African parliamentarians and the African Union (AU) on Saturday called on African countries to develop and activate non-violent conflict resolution mechanisms so as to realize the continent's flagship "Silencing the Guns" initiative.
The call was made by African experts and policymakers during a two-day high-level forum for women and youth parliamentarians that are drawn from the 235-member AU's legislative body - the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), which was concluded on Saturday at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
"I believe that peace, security and socio-economic development should be pursued simultaneously. One cannot exist without the other," Ramtane Lamamra, AU's High Representative on Silencing the Guns, told the continental forum that envisaged to shore up efforts focusing on silencing the guns across the continent.
Lamamra, in particular, urged the Pan-African Parliament, which is the AU Commission's legislative arm, to persuade AU member states "to develop and implement National Action Plans on silencing the guns."
"I cannot over-emphasize your oversight role over national legislative bodies. I urge you to use your platform, to lobby African governments to commit to tangible action on peace and security," Lamamra said.
The women and youth caucuses of the pan-African parliament meeting, which brought together more than 50 women and youth legislators across Africa, was jointly organized by the Office of the AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa, the AU Department of Political Affairs and the Office of the Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security.
Amina Abdou Souna, Chairperson of the Pan-African Parliament's Committee on Education, also stressed the need to apply non-armed ways of resolving conflicts in the African continent.
"Dialogue and non-violent communal problem-solving are not new to Africans. It is deeply rooted in our culture," Souna said, adding "I share a responsibility to look after fellow Africans and to help find solutions that will benefit our continent and my own home country."
As part of AU's 50-year continental development Agenda 2063, the African leaders had previously adopted the "Silencing the Guns by 2020" continent-wide initiative as a flagship project that aims to end all conflicts in Africa by 2020.
According to AU, while good progress has been made in reducing state-driven conflicts, recurring conflicts in several regions are "rolling back gains already made in achieving lasting peace."
Aissatou Hayatou, Operations Manager for Silencing the Guns at the AU Commission, also stressed that silencing the guns would enable African countries to exert their potential on peace and economic development endeavors.
"Silencing the Guns is at the nexus of peace and development. It is not just about guns, it is about what drives people to resort to guns. We need to address those underlying issues," Hayatou said.
The Bureau of the Women's Caucus of the Pan-African Parliament also on Saturday emphasized the key role that women play in peace and security-building efforts in Africa.
Noting the contribution of women and youth in silencing the guns as "critical in achieving a conflict-free Africa," the Bureau also expressed its keen interest towards augmenting their active participation in peace and conflict resolution initiatives in Africa.
The 55-member pan African bloc had recently announced that it will reinforce its efforts to silence the continent's guns, focusing in 2020, with particular focus on addressing the underlying root-causes and facilitating socio-economic development on the continent.
The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) was set up to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent.
The PAP, based in South Africa, was established to serve as a platform for people from all African states to be involved in discussions and decision making on the problems and challenges facing the continent. It has currently a consultative, advisory and budgetary oversight powers within the AU.