Without sustainable peace, Africa will never know real economic development

Graca Machel.  

This week, the 27 members of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda gather in Monrovia, Liberia, to advise UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. At the meeting, the Panel will establish a “bold yet practical” vision for joint action on sustainable development.
While these discussions – hosted by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and British Prime Minister David Cameron – take place, the nearby Sahel and the Great Lakes region continue to be plagued by violence.
Indeed, large-scale displacement of people and unspeakable human suffering are occurring in many African countries (not to mention in Syria and elsewhere), threatening to reverse the continent’s unprecedented economic progress during the last decade.
The Panel (of which I am a member) must seize the opportunity presented by the Monrovia meeting to contribute to a global development agenda that addresses the vicious cycle of conflict and poverty that hampers economic activity.
For more than a decade, the Millennium Development Goals, which expire in two years, have provided the framework for international development cooperation, with a focus on combating poverty worldwide.
In developing a new, comprehensive follow-up agenda, global leaders should recognise that, although the MDGs have enabled millions of people worldwide to escape illiteracy, disease and hunger, their overall impact has been inadequate, particularly in fragile, conflict-ridden countries.

Rule of law
World Bank statistics show that no conflict-affected low-income country has achieved a single MDG, reflecting the framework’s failure to address problems caused by organised violence and insecurity effectively.

That is why the post-2015 agenda should be centred on peace, security and freedom from fear.

And it should reflect the understanding that development is impossible without peace, just as peace is impossible without development – and that lasting peace and sustainable development are impossible without respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Furthermore, as the Monrovia meeting’s theme, “National Building Blocks for Sustained Prosperity” suggests, post-2015 global development initiatives should emphasise support for national efforts to achieve strong, stable, long-term prosperity.

Strategies that would help countries to overcome domestic insecurity and conflict, transform their economies, and, ultimately, meet their potential include strengthening governance institutions and the rule of law, ensuring multi-stakeholder participation, and guaranteeing that all citizens have equal access to justice.

International support for such efforts would mean giving African leaders and stakeholders the opportunity – and the responsibility – to eliminate underdevelopment and boost prosperity. Moreover, while poverty eradication will remain a concern after 2015, the focus must shift from national averages to local disparities.

Fitting setting
Measures must move beyond overall social needs to bolster progress in productive job-creating and income-generating sectors. And strong efforts must be made in conflict-affected countries to promote reconciliation and prevent the revival of violence.

Given Liberia’s recent success in post-conflict reconstruction and human development, following a 14-year civil war, it is a fitting setting for the Panel’s deliberations.

The Panel is committed to creating an ambitious, coherent, and practical proposal for a sustainable global development agenda. The process will be open, inclusive, and transparent, and will be informed by the opinions and experiences of experts and stakeholders representing young people, women, the elderly, and the disabled, as well as legislative, academic, and inter-governmental actors.

The Panel will also take advantage of extensive online and offline efforts to engage with people worldwide and gain insight into the future that they envision. Their perspectives will enrich efforts to develop an agenda that addresses their priorities.

In a world roiled by conflict, development efforts will always fall short. The post-2015 global development agenda must take a comprehensive approach, combining poverty-reduction measures with peace-building initiatives and strategies for economic transformation.

In this way, global leaders can begin to lay the foundations for prosperity, justice, and sustainable development worldwide. Future generations are counting on it.

Ms Machel is a member of the Africa Progress Panel, president of the Foundation for Community Development, and the founder of New Faces, New Voices (c): Project Syndicate, 2013. www.project-syndicate.org