Consolidating peace and security isessential to achieving faster economic growth, development and progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa. Violent conflict has killed and displaced morepeople in Africa than in any other continent over recent decades. Leadership is being taken by Africa itself and the number of conflicts has fallen however one-fifth of the population of Africa still live in conflict zones. Around 20 percent of all small arms and light weapons in circulation are estimated to be in Africa, and widespread availability has contributed to significant violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
There have been extensive commitments from both Africa and the international community in many of the areas above over recent years, including in the United Nations (UN), in the African Union (AU), and in successive G8 Summit declarations.
The AU Assembly signed in Durban (2002) the Protocol relating to the establishment of the Peaceand Security Council (PSC) of the African Union. The objectives of the PSC included the promotion of peace, security and stability in Africa, the anticipation and prevention of conflicts, and the promotion of peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction. The Protocol entered into force in December 2003, and includes mechanisms suchas the Peace and Security Council of the AU, a Continental Early Warning System, a Panel of the Wise as an enhanced mediation capacity, an African Stand-by Force and a Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development Framework.The sub-regional organizations (RECs) are closely collaborating with the AU, the Memorandum of Understanding that regulates the relationship on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity has been recently signed.
Considerable progress as been made in the area of Small and Light Weapons (SALW). The original African Common Position on the Illicit Proliferation, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons, also known as the Bamako Declaration was adopted in December 2000, and developed in preparation for the United Nations Programme of Action (UNPoA) process, on which it had a significant impact. It drew together a series of regional initiatives, some of which have developed further, including the SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials, (signed 2001); the Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons, (signed 2004); and a new Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons signed by ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Heads of State in June 2006. In preparation for the 2006 UNPoA Review Conference, AU Member States further adopted the Windhoek African Common Position that called on the Commission to develop a legally-binding instrument to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
The G8 have focused in particular on supporting Africa's efforts to develop its capacity to undertake peace support operations and peacebuilding activities. The G8 Africa Action Plan adopted at the 2002 Summit in Kananaskis marked the beginning of increased G8 emphasis on African security, including commitments on peacekeeping, conflict resources and against the illegal proliferation of SALW. This was followed by a more specific Joint Africa/G8 Plan to Enhance African Capabilities to Undertake Peace Support Operations (PSO), endorsed at Evian in 2003.The 2004 G8 Summit at Sea Island adopted an Action Planon Expanding Global Capability for PSO with a particular focus on Africa. Gleneagles commitments in 2005 drew on these action plans with additional commitments on conflict resources in its Communique on Africa, and subsequent summits have pledged continued support to Africa's peacekeeping framework and the African standby Force in particular. Most recently, the Hokkaido 2008 Summit Declaration committed to take action on conflict resources.
The UN Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Parts and Components and Ammunition entered into force in July 2005, and 60 states are currently party to the Protocol. The UN Instrument on Tracing Illicit Small Arms adopted by the General Assembly in December 2005 builds on the minimum standards contained in the UN Firearms Protocol, but is not legally binding and does not include ammunition. The Geneva Declarationon Armed Violence and Development commits countries to promote sustainable security and a culture of peace by taking action to reduce armed violence, setting 2015 as the deadline to achieving measurable reductions of armed violence.