UCLG Africa organized a webinar on 10 August 2020 under the theme selected by the African Union, “The contribution of Local Authorities to conflict prevention and peacekeeping on the Continent,” to celebrate the African Day of Decentralization and Local Development. The webinar was attended by 140 people representing more than 50 countries both in and outside Africa.
The official opening ceremony heard speeches by Mr. Léandre Nzué, President of UCLG Africa (read by Mr. Jean Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa), Mr. Mohamed Boudra, President of UCLG World, President of the Moroccan Association of Presidents of Communal Councils (AMPCC) and Mayor of the City of Al Hoceima (Morocco), Mr. Mohand Laenser, President of the Association of Regions of Morocco (ARM), President of the Council of the Region of Fez -Meknès (Morocco), and Mr. Saâd Benmbarek, President of the Moroccan Association of the Councils of Prefectures and Provinces (AMPCPP), President of the Council of the Prefecture of Rabat, Morocco.
For the President of UCLG Africa, the decision by the Heads of State and Government of the African Union to annually celebrate the African Day of Decentralization and Local Development on August 10 reflects their desire to make decentralization a model of public governance in African countries. “By adopting the African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Governance and Local Development in June 2014, our Heads of State and Government sent a clear message that public authorities now have two components: one national and one local. One of the essential conditions for launching the dynamics of sustainable development in Africa is the imperative to silence the guns on the continent. We believe that local authorities are in the front line both for conflict prevention and for the treatment of post-conflict situations, hence the importance of involving them. The two panels that we will have will deal with two major requests from local authorities in the area of peace and security on our continent: We call for the involvement of local and subnational governments in the early warning system on conflicts put in place through the African Union, and we call for the systematic involvement of local and subnational governments in post-conflict situations to build peace between communities. I hope that the deliberations of this webinar will help us to see the indispensable role of local authorities in conflict prevention in Africa,” Mr. Léandre Nzué.
Mr. Mohamed Boudra congratulated UCLG Africa for this celebration in his capacity, “as President of the great family of local authorities of the world but also as an African, this day is an opportunity to take stock of decentralization. I stand in solidarity with the communities of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso which have recently suffered terrorist attacks. We must convince our governments every day, of the importance of achieving the United Nation’s Agenda 2030 and the African Union’s s Agenda 2063. It is obvious that local and subnational governments play a daily role in resolving different types of conflicts by producing the services needed by the populations and by practicing a community-based policy, the fight against racism and xenophobia and the fight against social exclusion against immigrant.”
Mr. Mohand Laenser stated that local and subnational governments were the first to suffer from conflicts. “Underdevelopment, poverty, illiteracy, and marginalization are all issues that foster conflicts. As managers of local authorities, our role is extremely important in all areas. If development is present, 80% of the causes of conflicts will be eradicated.”
Mr. Saâd Benmbarek, underlined the importance of tackling the situation of street children. “We cannot build peace with 30 million children walking the streets of Africa. These children are sometimes part of the rebels. In this sense, I would like to salute the campaign of African Cities without Street Children launched during the Africities 8 Summit in Marrakech in November 2018 by REFELA (Network of Local Elected Women of Africa) and having as a sponsor Her Royal Highness Princess Lalla Meryem.”
Tribute to the late Dr. Alioune Badiane
The webinar participants observed a minute of silence in memory of Dr. Alioune Badiane, former Director of UN-Habitat for Africa, who died in Dakar on July 31. Dr. Alioune Badiane was the one of the most influential advocates of the New Urban Agenda in Africa and supported the vision and causes of UCLG Africa as Special Adviser. A commemoration in his honor was organized on 04 August 2020 by UN-Habitat. A second commemoration is scheduled for Thursday, 13 August 2020 at 11:00 a.m. Rabat time (UTC + 1).
Introductory Report: Promoting the constructive resolution of disputes and conflicts in Africa
An introductory presentation was made by Dr. Vasu Gounden, Founder and Executive Director of the African Center for Constructive Dispute Resolution (ACCORD) who addressed the theme, “Promoting the constructive resolution of disputes and conflicts in Africa.”