Canada committed to advancing peace and security in Africa

Accra, Canada is committed to advancing the cause of peace and security in Africa, Ms Heather Cameron, the Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, has said.

Africa has made significant progress in achieving a level of peace and security, unseen in the past 60 years. Yet despite the progress, too many conflicts still plague Africa, and too many require continued peace operations- operations which are more complex than in the past, Ms Cameron said.

Ms Cameron made these remarks on Monday at the opening of a two-day workshop on Canada’s Re-Engagement with Peace Operations in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

The event was organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), in collaboration with the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (RDCSI) and the Centre for the Study of Security and Development (CSSD).

The two-day workshop, funded by the Defence Engagement Programme of the Department of National Defence, Canada, is aimed at exploring how Canada can most effectively support, and contribute to, peace operation in Africa, with an emphasis on African insights and perspectives.

Ms Cameron said: We are proud of our strong peacekeeping traditions and have been intricately engaged in military training in the continent; including and most recently the deployment of two royal Canadian navy ships to help build coastal defense capabilities in the Gulf of Guinea, in the context of ‘Operation Obangame Express’.

She said that processes were more likely to be successful and peace agreements were more likely to endure when women were included.

Studies also show that the security of women and girls is one of the best predictors of a state’s peacefulness, she said.

Canada will bring the UN and member states together to foster innovative solutions to make peacekeeping operations more effective, which will include a panel discussion on protecting those at risk; amongst the most at risk are children.

She noted that there were an estimated 245 million children living in countries and territories affected by armed conflicts worldwide, she said.

I am particularly honoured to welcome General Romeo Dallaire, Founder of the Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative (ROCSI), who has made it his mission, through his foundation, to progressively eradicate the use and recruitment of children soldiers.

Air-Vice Marshal Griffiths Santrofi Evans, Commandant, KAIPTC, said After about a decade of Canada’s disengagement from peacekeeping, due to a shift in government policy, it is heart-warming that today, we welcome our Canadian friends and stakeholders to our midst.

He said the workshop was not just to discuss and reflect on peace support operations in Africa, but to make major contributions towards Canada’s re-engagement with Africa and peacekeeping operations.

For the next two days, we hope to explore how Canada can support, and contribute to peace operations in Africa, whiles drawing on African insights and perspectives, he said.

General Dallaire said, his initiative, which started over eight years ago, hopefully continues to push the advocacy side and seek the funding to be able to do the significant work with regard to stopping the use of children as weapons of war.

He said it would also help to alleviate one of the terrible dimensions of civil war where children were in fact a primary tool for those conflicts and to get the various forces in conflicts to adapt to a new thinking, ethos, and perspective that children were children and should not be used as weapons of war.

He called for the total elimination of child soldier activities.

Source: Ghana News Agency