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Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Peace can help Africa achieve its full potential

Achieving peace and silencing the guns of conflict across Africa are critical if the continent is to achieve its full potential.

In a keynote address at the Chatham House ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa by 2030: Lessons from Mozambique’ event, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf offered her perspective on peacebuilding, drawing from her experience as Liberia’s leader following years of civil strife.

A national disarmament campaign coupled with support from international organizations was conducive to restoring stability in Liberia, Madam Sirleaf said. The rebuilding and reconciliation process she led was centered on advancing youth development and education:

“During my tenure as president, I worked hard to provide opportunities for education, skills development, and capacity building, particularly for women and girls.”

Her efforts were targeted toward delivering sustainable solutions to Liberia’s challenges “for generations to come,” she added.

Dialogue, respect for human rights, and the pursuit of democracy are fundamental components of peacebuilding, Madam Sirleaf argued in her intervention. Peace, she added, is critical if Africa is to achieve its full potential and “take its rightful place on the world stage.”

Highlighting the potential of Africa’s youth to steer the continent toward a brighter future, Madam Sirleaf expressed hope that collective peacebuilding efforts can be realized:

“We must all believe that peace across our continent is attainable by 2030, but this will only happen if we collectively take all the actions toward the achievement of that goal.”

Concluding her remarks, Madam Sirleaf commended the recent appointment of Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas as the African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns:

“I am convinced that, as he did in previous assignments, he will give the initiative new vigor and impetus to end all conflicts, gender-based violence, terrorism, and prevent genocide in the continent by 2030.”

Speakers at the Chatham House event included President of the Republic of Mozambique, H.E. Filipe Nyusi; President of the Union of the Comoros, H.E. Azali Assoumani; President of the Swiss Confederation, H.E. Alain Berset; UNDP’s Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa; and African Union Commission’s Senior Advisor, Governance and Peace Building, Ambassador William Awinador-Kanyirige. The event was chaired by Chatham House’s Managing Director, Risk, Ethics and Resilience, and Director of the Africa Program, Dr. Alex Vines OBE.

Watch the full event here.

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