Final Outcome statement: Third High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance in Africa #DGTrends

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30 – 31 OCTOBER 2014





  1. The 3rd Annual High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance in Africa: Trends, Challenges, Prospects and Opportunities was held in Dakar, Senegal, on 30 to 31 October, 2014. The theme of the Dialogue was “Silencing the Guns – Strengthening Governance to Prevent, Manage and Resolve Conflicts in Africa.” It was attended by representatives from African Union (AU) Member States (Permanent Representatives Committee), African Governance Architecture Platform Members (AU Organs, Institutions and Regional Economic Communities (RECs), United Nations Agencies, Development Partners, Think Tanks, Civil Society, including women groups and youth organisations, Eminent African Personalities and Academia.
  1. The 50th Solemn Declaration committed Africa leaders to ending wars and violent conflicts by 2020. The overall objective of the Dialogue was to explore strategies for ending violent conflicts in Africa, and to propose policy recommendations for implementation at both African Union and Member States levels. The Dialogue reiterated the need for articulating perspectives and strategies for silencing Guns by 2020 through strengthening democratic governance as articulated in the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration.
  1. This ‘Outcome Statement’ is a summary of the key issues and recommendations made at the High Level Dialogue towards “Silencing the Guns” in Africa by 2020.


  1. Since independence, African states have made remarkable progress to build sturdy institutions of statehood and nationhood for managing diversity, encouraging participation, promoting equitable development, and encouraging regional integration. Furthermore, Africa has made profound strides to establish systems of democratic governance that have broadened competitive politics, improved democratic leadership changes, invigorated and enthused civic action, and resuscitated economies for growth and development.
  1. Yet some parts of Africa remain saddled by violent conflicts and instabilities that are linked to competition over power and resources and the mismanagement of diversity. Conflicts in Africa are driven by governance and development deficits that reflect the challenges faced by institutions and mechanisms that seek to address the strains and pressures of pluralism and poverty. Widespread state fragility and national fragmentation combined with socioeconomic inequities continue to fuel violence and social discontent in many African countries. Democratization in the face of ethnic, sectarian, and religious fissures has exacerbated conflicts that have further strained efforts aimed at building effective, legitimate, and representative states.


  1. The High Level Dialogue reiterated the fact that ending wars and silencing the guns should be a collective responsibility of African citizens, AU Member States, the African Union, Regional Economic Communities, Civil Society Organizations, the Private Sector, Faith-Based Organizations, the Academia, and the international community. Participants noted, with a sense of optimism that AU Shared Values instruments, including the Constitutive Act of the African Union, African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, the ProtocolRelating to the Establishment of the Peace. and Security Council of the African Union, the African Peer Review Mechanism and the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa all aim to strengthen democratic and participatory governance as well as peace and security in Africa. Democratic and participatory governance is both a pre-condition and outcome of durable peace, inclusive, equitable and people-centred development.

Re-Invigorating the Spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance

  1. Transformational regional integration requires that the processes of establishing inclusive and sustainable development are anchored on effective, efficient and accountable governance. Such democratic developmental governance dictates that African citizens are enabled to become drivers and owners of their own development and not just recipients of development projects and programmes without their effective participation. The AU Agenda 2063 and the Common African Position on the post-2015 development Agenda calls on African leaders and citizens to embrace the spirit of Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance anchored on both people-to-people as well as institutional integration.
  1. The operationalization of Agenda 2063 requires specific programmes and actions at national, regional and continental levels. The aim is to deepen a shared African identity, unity, integration, solidarity, self-confidence, collective self-reliance and self-respect all of which are integral parts of ending violent conflict on the continent. AU, RECs, Member States and the global pan-African community have to make a concerted effort to revive the Pan-Africanist Movement and support the convening of the 8th Pan-African Congress in Accra, Ghana in 2015.
  1. The solidarity and unity of all Africans and Afro-descendants is critical to the achievement of the Agenda 2063. To ensure sustainable implementation of agenda 2063, Africa’s wealth and the resources it generates domestically should be deliberately applied through agreed mechanisms to finance and sustain the operationalization of Agenda 2063 and the common Africa position on post-2015 development agenda.

From Norm-Setting to Norm Implementation

  1. The AU and RECs already have an expansive and robust set of normative frameworks for promoting democratic and participatory governance for peace and development. However, a huge gap exists between norm-setting and implementation of agreed norms and policies at national level. In some instances, AU Member States have limited human, material and financial resources to effectively domesticate and implement agreed continental policies and standards. This gap needs to be addressed by the AU, RECs and Member States as a matter of urgency. As a first step the Conference called for the establishment of time-bound implementation frameworks that have dedicated budgets as well as systems, competencies and capacities for monitoring, evaluation, reporting and follow up.
  1. The conference called upon all AU Member States to ratify, domesticate and implement key AU Shared Values Instruments by the year 2020. They called upon the African Union Commission to ensure synergy and harmonization of the internal coordination, resourcing, capacity development and evaluation systems.
  1. In particular, the Conference recommended stronger synergy and complementarity between the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). It was recommended that a joint working group of the AU Permanent Representative Committee, Peace and Security Council and AU Commission should be established and tasked with ensuring that APSA and AGA structures, processes and work plans are harmonized before the next High Level Dialogue in 2015.

Investing in Conflict Prevention, Early Warning and Early Recovery

  1. The Conference noted that the AU, RECs and Member States have various forms of early warning and disaster response systems that operate with varying degrees of efficiency and effectiveness. It called for increased investment of time, energy and resources in preventive diplomacy, strengthening early warning and early recovery of conflict-affected countries.
  1. This requires robust systems of detection of crisis signals, preventive diplomatic entry in volatile situations and candid analysis and reporting of conflict situations. Where such systems already exists, Member States, AU Organs and Institutions, Regional Economic Communities as well as civil society and the international community should share real and timely intelligence and pool the requisite resources and expertise for timely preventive responses before the eruption of full blown conflict as is the situation in Burkina Faso.

Building Capable, Effective and Legitimate States

  1. The African State is central to developmental democratic governance, policy formulation and implementation, post-conflict recovery, building national cohesion, guaranteeing human and State security, decentralization and local economic development, enforcement of human rights and the social contract.
  1. The conference called for redoubling of efforts to build institutional and administrative capacity of the African States. Capable, responsive, accountable and democratic States engender a culture of values and performance-based leadership and institutions. Such States have the requisite legitimacy and authority which leaves little room for social upheavals and rebellion born out of discontent, marginalization and exclusion. Effective state capacity is crucial for efficient service delivery and the fight against impunity, corruption and abuse of public office. State capacity is crucial for regulating illicit financial and capital outflows that are driven by vested internal and external interests and actors.
  1. Capable democratic developmental African states stand a greater chance to silence the guns. The Conference called for capacity needs assessment in African countries that may require technical support especially those emerging from conflict. The AU, RECs and Member States through the existing governance, peace and security architectures should improve coordination and share comparable practices, lessons as well as human and financial resources to countries that require rebuilding and re-establishment of norms and institutions of democratic governance, peace and security.

Constructive Management of Diversity

  1. The Conference called upon AU, RECs and Member States to harness African socio-cultural and intergenerational diversity for sustainable development anchored on the spirit of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance. Africa’s diversity should not be a curse, it should impel the continent towards greater unification and organic integration. Constructive management of diversity, including through: youth engagement and empowerment, specific language policies; proportional representation in electoral systems; political tolerance; local economic development, decentralization of power and resources as well as federal systems of governance should be strengthened by AU Member States as a tools of diversity management.
  1. The African Union in partnership with African CSOs, youth and women formations, the Academia, and Media should create communities of practice for African countries to share lessons learnt, innovations and effective practices as a way of entrenching a culture of constructive management of diversity on the continent.

Preventing Electoral Violence

  1. The conference noted that some elections in Africa have promoted democratization and peace-building. However, others have reversed the development and democratic gains made in the recent past and ignited bloodshed. Some aspects of electoral violence have resulted from electoral cycle factors such as inefficient management of elections, while others have structural root causes deeply hidden within socio-economic malaise such as unemployment, poverty and inequality.
  1. The Conference recommended that in addressing and redressing electoral violence, AU, RECs and Member States should deal with both the electoral cycle related and structural causal factors so that policy responses go beyond mere symptoms of the problem. Member States, AU, RECs and civil society should thus make greater investment in long term pre-election assessments that integrate mediation, preventive diplomacy and effective management of potential electoral processes disputes.
  1. The Conference noted a growing tendency to pressure countries emerging out of serious crises and conflicts into immediately holding elections as an ill-conceived policy option. African countries emerging from violent conflict should consider seriously the timing of post-conflict elections to ensure that they are premised upon solid foundations of peace, stability and political legitimacy. There is need to ensure that elections held soon after episodes of violent conflict or social upheaval have no potential of plunging countries back into cycle of political violence.

Demilitarising Politics

  1. After decades of limited or absent coup d’etats, Africa has witnessed a resurgence of militarization of politics as an undemocratic phenomenon. The conference reiterated that demilitarization of politics is a crucial step in silencing the guns. It called for an end to the politicization of the security establishment and securitization of politics characterized by the politicization of formal security agencies or instances where political elites establish and control militias that work parallel to formal security agencies. In order to reverse this trend, the conference called upon African countries to recommit to professional security establishments accountable to civilian authority through parliament.
  1. Formal security agencies should not compete for space with informal militias. African states should invest more resources in managing, regulating and controlling private security companies, which operate in national settings and across borders. The conference called upon the African Union Commission to propose a code of standards and practice for private security companies that operate at a regional level or in multi-country settings as well as mechanisms for ensuring their regional/continental accountability by December 2015.

Expanding the Frontiers of Human and Peoples’ Rights

  1. In silencing the guns, Africa needs to do much more in the area of expanding the frontiers of a human rights culture. Human rights, especially the rights of women and girls must be protected and promoted. It is largely deficiencies in embracing a culture of human rights that has led to some of the tragic cases of mass atrocities and genocide in Africa.
  1. Silencing guns in Africa entails committing to eradicating conditions that lead to international crimes, such as genocide and impunity, among others. African transitional justice mechanism should be embedded in the continent’s human rights architecture. This is where Africa-specific methodologies and culturally embedded strategies for transitional justice and conflict transformation, such as the Gacaca courts in Rwanda, the Ubuntu system in South Africa and Mot Oput in Northern Uganda become extremely useful and these should be strengthened and reinforced.
  1. In support of the declaration by the African Union that 2015 is the Year for Women’s Empowerment in the Context of Agenda 2063 and 2016 as the Year for Human Rights, with special reference to the Rights of Women, the conference called for the theme of the 2015 High Level Dialogue to focus on women empowerment and leadership.

Managing Africa’s Natural Resources for Sustainable Development

  1. Africa has normative frameworks at the Continental, RECs and national levels to govern the extractive sectors and natural resources generally. The intricate linkage between security and natural resource rent abuse or usage is a key factor to silencing the guns. The conference reiterated that Africa requires optimum and transparent extraction and beneficiation of its resources in order to sustainably combat insecurity and achieve sustainable development and peace.
  1. It noted that the mismanagement of Africa’s natural resources has resulted in massive corruption that has left the African economy bleeding as clearly demonstrated by the Thabo Mbeki Panel Report and the Kofi Anan Africa Progress Report on illicit resource outflows and exploitation of Africa’s natural resources respectively. The conference noted that a growing number of Africa’s violent conflicts are over distribution of rents and benefits from these natural resources. Resource based conflicts often find virulent expression in religious and ethnic sectarianism and radicalisation.
  1. The AU, RECs and Member States have to ensure effective governance, distribution and redistribution of Africa’s natural resources to address issues of corruption as well as illicit financial and capital outflows as envisaged by the African Mining Vision.

Addressing the Special Circumstances of Marginalized Social Groups

  1. African nation-States are constituted by heterogeneous nation groups that sometimes are bounded by spatial, economic, social and political inequalities. These inequalities and class differences are often exacerbated by uneven development within regions in the same nation States. In their efforts to silence the guns, AU, RECs and Member States will need to address the specific circumstances and situations of marginalized social groups including women, children, young people, minorities and people with disabilities.
  1. It is imperative that women and youth empowerment constitute part of the broader package for silencing guns. Interest of children, minorities and people with disabilities need to be taken into account during conflict situations, during processes of peace-building and development process in peace time. The consolidation and effective implementation of various national and continental women and youth engagement strategies by Member States, the African Union, RECs, and civil society formations is a critical component of efforts geared towards silencing the guns by 2020.
  1. The conference recommended that existing continental benchmarks and frameworks on empowerment of vulnerable and marginalized social groups should be made an integral part of AU democratic governance, peace building and conflict transformation processes. In order for this to be sustained, tools and mechanisms for mainstreaming the existing normative expectations should be developed and AU Mediators should be sensitized on how to use the same.

Addressing Forced Displacement Due to Violent Conflicts

  1. The Conference noted that the disproportionate impact of violent conflicts on the continent includes the massive forced displacement of communities leading to millions of internally displaced people, refugees, stateless people or irregular migrants. In most conflict zones such as the Horn, the Sahel, the Great Lakes regions and parts of North Africa especially Libya forced migration accounts for over 10 million refugees and equally high numbers of internally displaced persons. Data sources indicate that 43 000 young Africans have died since the year 2000 trying to cross the high seas to seek perceived better opportunities in Europe. While some of these are economic migrants, others are political refugees fleeing violence in their countries.
  1. The conference called upon the AU, RECs and Member States to find durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa due to wars and violent conflicts by strengthening early warning and response systems. But once wars erupt, remedial measures are needed to mitigate their adverse impact on civilian populations.
  1. The AU, RECs, Member States and international community should work closely to establish locally owned and led support systems for the affected communities and States. The AU, RECs and Member States need to work closely together on the Common African Position on Humanitarian Situation in Africa in readiness for the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey in June 2016.

Promoting Reconciliation, Social Healing and National Harmony

  1. The Conference noted that national and local systems and cultures of peace are linked to governance mechanisms and processes designed to guarantee justice, freedom and human rights. A key foundation to achieving national cohesion is national reconciliation and recovery processes. In pursuance of the Decision Assembly/AU/Dec.501 (XXII) declaring 2014-2024 as the Madiba Nelson Mandela Decade of Reconciliation in Africa, the AU, RECs and Member States should invest a lot more in efforts aimed at reconciliation and social harmony with a view to facilitating successful nation-building in Africa.
  1. In countries emerging from violent conflicts, a good mixture of social healing, justice and accountability mechanisms is required for sustainable peace and democracy building. The conference called upon AU, RECs and Member States to adopt and implement the AU Transitional Justice framework as a means to addressing issues of impunity, national reconciliation and recovery anchored upon the principles of justice, peace, and reconciliation as encapsulated in the AU Shared Values instruments.

Promoting equitable, inclusive and participatory socio-economic development

  1. Democratic and participatory governance and peace and security are key pre-conditions for sustainable human development, which is people-centered. Most of violent conflicts in Africa have their root causes in both development failure and governance deficits. In order to address the structural root causes of violent conflict, socio-economic challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality should be addressed effectively. The conference reiterated the need to ensure that economic policy is rationalized with social policy and adequate investment in the productive capacities of African States and peoples. In particular, the conference called for economic and social policies that evolve out of participatory processes and advance a culture of democracy and peace.
  1. The conference reaffirmed the imperative of greater engagement and participation of African citizens in state and continental affairs especially policy making and implementation towards silencing the guns. The conference commended the AU for improving its social media engagement strategy with African citizens and called for revamping and strengthening of the continental platform for engaging civil society and citizens – the Economic Social and Cultural Council – and the use of traditional media and other participatory processes such as people to people dialogues, information sharing and feedback with Member States in order to ensure continental and national policies are owned and driven by beneficiaries.

Promoting Knowledge Generation, Policy Analysis and Dissemination

  1. The AU, RECs and Member States should engage, partner and cooperate more with African think tanks, universities, research institutes and the media in generating and disseminating evidenced based knowledge, research and policy analysis on strengthening democratic governance, addressing violent conflicts with a view to sharpening their policy responses and interventions aimed at silencing guns on the continent.

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