Women’s powerful leadership in brokering peace is understood, appreciated and promoted across regions and organisations, Madam Helena Airaksinen, the Ambassador of Finland to the African Union (AU), has underscored.
“It is understood that there is no sustainable peace without women,” Madam Airaksinen stated at the end of the AU Nineth High Level Retreat in Accra.
She said the stability and peaceful, inclusive development of African countries and regions was crucial not only for the wellbeing of Africans, but also for us all.
She noted that, she was happy that her country, Finland had been able to support the Retreats for the past nine years, within the cooperation framework of Finland, African Union Commission, African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) and Crisis Management Initiative (CMI).
She said the Retreat demonstrated that the AU was taking the lead and setting the scene in conflict prevention on the continent in partnership with the UN, Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs).
“We partners are here to learn from the recent experiences and coordinate our efforts in support of the African processes and new approaches developed,” she said
“We have learnt that conflict prevention takes place on many levels – individual, community, member state, regional and continental and takes many forms”. She noted that the Panel of the Wise was a mechanism full of wisdom, knowledge and experience.
Madam Airaksinen noted that equally important was the potential that the Network for Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (FEMWise Africa) had on the continent in preventing conflicts.
She said in addition to sitting in the high tables to mediate peace, the network possessed unique possibility to prevent and mediate conflicts on the local and community level.
“My country Finland continues to be a strong advocate for multilateral cooperation. We believe that international rules base order is providing us security and welfare.”
She said Finland was also a strong supporter of regional integration, both political and economic and their own European Union was a strong and concrete example on an integration process that created stability.
“Also we Finns had our share of wars not so long ago and we are determined not to experience that again. No country should. That’s why our focus is in prevention, also in our cooperation with African Union in the future,” Madam Airaksinen stated.
Mr Smail Chergui, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, said in a bid to consolidate its peace-making efforts, the AU was in the process of operationalising its first ever Mediation Support Unit (MSU).
He said when established, the MSU would provide substantive and operational support to all AU-led and supported mediation efforts on the continent.
The retreat on the theme “Strengthening AU’s Conflict Prevention and Peace-making Efforts” was attended by over 600 participants including; former heads of states and representatives from United Nations agencies.
During the two-day meeting, deliberations were focused on a wide-range of issues revolving around this year’s main theme.
This year’s retreat took place against the backdrop of a number of existing and emerging challenges which were increasingly getting complex, protracted and transnational in nature.