Member States of Non-Aligned Movement have undertaken a series of initiative to achieve the goal of establishing global peace. One such initiative undertaken by the African Union, which comprises of a significant number of NAM Member States, is the Silencing the Guns in Africa by the year 2020. The aim of this initiative is to build a conflict free African continent.

Contemporary Africa faces challenges in the form of threats posed by terrorism, maritime piracy, tensions between farmers and herders, transnational organized crime, and the persistent violence perpetrated by insurgents, rebel, and armed groups.

Silencing the Guns is an initiative by the African Union in view of the persistence of violent conflicts and crisis situations in some parts of the African continent, as well as the scourges related to this persistence, which have resulted in losses of innocent lives, untold suffering to the people, internally displaced persons and refugees, destruction of infrastructure and the environment, as well as derailment of national development programmes and projects among others.

In January 2017, African Union adopted the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps for Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020 at the 28th ordinary session of the Assembly, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Roadmap contains the following objectives:

1) Addressing the root cause of conflict including social and economic disparities;

2) Eradicate recurrent and address emerging sources of conflict including piracy, trafficking in narcotics and humans, all forms of extremism, armed rebellions, terrorism, transnational organized crime and new crimes such as cybercrime;

3) Pushing forward the Agenda of conflict prevention, peace-making, peace support, national reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction and development through the African Peace and Security Architecture;

4) Maintaining a nuclear free Africa;

5) Ensuring the effective implementation of agreements on landmines and the non- proliferation of small arms and light weapons; and

6) Addressing the plight of internally displaced persons and refugees and eliminate the root causes of this phenomenon by fully implementing continental and universal frameworks.

Silencing the Guns calls on the Peace and Security Council (PSC) to play a locomotive role in spearheading strategic intervention in conflict zones. A number of measures have been taken to achieve the objectives. An example of such an initiative was the launch of African Amnesty Month.

Under the amnesty, those who ‘surrender their illegally owned weapons/arms shall not be subjected to disclosure, humiliation, arrest or prosecution’. Anyone who doesn’t comply will be in violation of national laws and the amnesty, and will be arrested and prosecuted according to the laws of the relevant Member State.

Silencing the Guns initiative has received considerable support from the international community. In February 2019, United Nations Security Council welcomed African Union’s determination to rid the continent of conflict through its “Silencing the Guns in Africa by the Year 2020” initiative, expressing its readiness to contribute to that goal.

According to Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the initiative is critical not only for what it aims to do, but also for what it says about the importance of African leadership and partnership with the global community.

Ramtane Lamamra, African Union’s High Representative for the “Silencing the Guns by 2020” initiative, stated that the initiative is not a mere slogan. Instead, it is meant to establish a conflict-free region and make peace a reality for all its peoples. That is why the African Union is pursuing the flagship initiative.

Silencing the Guns initiative has resulted in a number of success stories. Peace agreements in South Sudan and Central African Republic, elections in Madagascar and Congo, and the renewal of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa are examples of such success stories.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava