YEAR OF PEACE AND SECURITY KICKS INTO HIGH GEAR
The African Union (AU) Commission and the Kingdom of Swaziland today marked another milestone in the Year of Peace and Security in Africa with a double celebration held at the King's royal residence in Ebuhleni. King Mswati III and the people of Swaziland used the occasion of the King's birthday to underscore the importance of peace and security by lighting a Flame of Peace, a symbolic rallying point for all African nations to reaffirm their commitment to peace and security.
Swaziland, which has enjoyed an amazing 300-year peace record, has made regional peace-building a priority. King Mswati III said:
“Regional peace and security has been a cornerstone of the foreign policy of the Kingdom of Swaziland. It is therefore not by accident that the Kingdom of Swaziland is one of the first AU Member States to mark the African Year of Peace and Security.”
AU Commission Chairperson, Jean Ping, commended the King and the people of Swaziland on their contribution to peace-building in the Kingdom and the SADC region, and outlined details of the African Year of Peace and Security.
“The Year of Peace and Security signifies an unprecedented opportunity to review current efforts to peace-building on the continent, with a view to strengthening them and, where appropriate, launching new initiatives. Whilst celebrating the achievements of the past decade, the African Union's programme for the Year of Peace and Security seeks to address ongoing challenges and to open up spaces for all stakeholders to contribute to peace-building,'' the Chairperson said.
Make Peace Happen – a campaign designed by the AU to mobilise peace-building activities throughout Africa on Peace Day, 21 September, is a centrepiece of the Year of Peace and Security in Africa.
Established by a UN resolution in 1982, Peace Day provides a single rallying point for Africa to show that peace is possible. The AU is pushing for a day of no violence, no conflict, no fighting on Peace Day – so that all Africans can experience peace simultaneously. The cessation of hostilities in conflict zones will allow for humanitarian relief, such as vital food, water, mosquito nets and other emergency supplies, to be provided to people living in those areas.
Speaking on the significance of Peace Day, Mr. Ping said;
“The primary point of this effort is to show that peace is attainable in Africa and that peace saves lives. We aim to put peace in practice, through a collective cooperative moment of unity on Peace Day. The aim is to demystify peace-building, and to portray it as the responsibility of all of us – every African citizen. So, while Africa will make history by staging the FIFA World Cup in 2010, our continent will make another kind of history too, by making peace happen at every level of society for at least a day: 1 billion people, working together to make peace happen.”
The clarion call for Year of Peace and Security is quite simply - Make Peace Happen. The aim is to mobilise all of the citizens of Africa to commit to action that makes peace possible on at least one day - Peace Day – and by so doing to demonstrate that it is possible to make peace happen in Africa in 2010 and beyond.