Opening Session: #Silencingtheguns #DGTrends


Both an electric and somber mood could be felt across the room as leaders and a myriad of stakeholders convened in Dakar, Senegal for the first day of the Third High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance.

The air was full of promise, a readiness and willingness by participants present to embark on discussions on how to Silence the Guns; these are discussions that would enable us to learn, share, and collectively concretize strategies to end wars in Africa. Undoubtedly, the opening session was mixed with both this and the inculcated emotions that spurred the genesis of this dialogue; the need for urgent change.


(Pic Courtesy of

Plenary Session One

The Third High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance began with a reminder by Dr. Kahabele Matlosa and reiteration by Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi of the devastating cost of war on the continent; its impact on human, economic and social development and the need for intrinsic comprehension of the nexus  between democracy, peace and development.

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 Dr. Khabele Matlosa /Pic Courtesy of

Mr. Kidane Kiros, the Director of Institute of Peace and Security Studies Ethiopia, reminded the audience of the misconceptions surrounding growth and that economic growth in itself was not sustainable. “Terrorism, piracy, cyber crime and conflict are existing threats that could thwart the continents vision and progress in rising,” he stated. Mr. Kiros reiterated the need for concerted efforts and the use of existential instruments to address these challenges.

H.E Bernhard Kampann, Ambassador of Germany to Senegal shared in his sentiments and urged the participants present to ensure that as they developed strategic interventions; doing so by rooting them on sturdy, resilient, participatory, efficient, effective, accountable and inclusive governance systems. “This is imperative in bringing back trust and that committed work brings a better future.”

Dr. Abdoulie Janneh, Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and chair of the governing board, Africa Governance Institute, flagged the issue of inter and intra state conflict being fuelled by transnational crime networks and also urged the audience to seek a more comprehensive and holistic discussion that addressed not only national but regional tension. He highlighted the nexus index that reflected the growing decline of security in Africa and the dire need for robust, accountable and transformative leadership. “We need to operationalize the African culture and use the structures embedded there to address some of these challenges. We need institutional collaboration to make things work,” he stated.

Mrs. Bintou Djibo, UNDP Representative Senegal’s representative gave the opening remarks on her behalf. In her statement, Mrs. Djibou highlighted the need for empowerment of women as active participants in the peace building process. “The positive effects are known, why then are we not doing this?” the representative asked in exasperation.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), Mr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas urged the audience to enhance their courage and ambition in addressing the root causes of conflict and the need for improved early warning mechanisms and political will in implementing solutions present to silence the guns.

Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi in her spirited and valiant address wound up the session with a reminder on the progress made by the continent in the last decade whilst highlighting sobering and tangible solutions to address the challenges of silencing the guns. Allow me to reiterate them below:

  • Build an institutional and administrative capacity of the State
  • Consider Socio-cultural diversity which is a resource for unity and integration
  • Expand the frontier of a human rights culture
  • Partnership
  • Better management of Africa’s natural resources
  • Address issues affecting both youth and women specifically
  • Demilitarize African politics and society
  • Implement the shared values agenda
  • Address issues of internally displaced people, refugees and stateless people
  • Establish an effective functioning of national infrastructure for peace

No doubt, this is a forum that provides the opportunity for us to do well by doing right; that being to address these challenges both realistically and practically; an uphill task that we choose to rise up to.

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