Statement by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal,
Mr. Francisco André
United Nations Security Council High-Level Open Debate
Peace and security in Africa: The impact of development policies in the implementation of the Silencing the Guns initiative
Muito obrigado, Senhor Presidente.
I thank Mozambique for convening this timely debate, and I thank all of today’s briefers for their valuable insights.
Let me start by thanking you, Mister President, for your wise leadership in the peace process and by commending the Mozambican government and Renamo for achieving a critical milestone of the peace process after having reached an agreement on the payment of pensions for the demobilized Renamo former fighters.
The government decree announced last week will hopefully lead to the full disarmament and demobilization process and the complete implementation of the Maputo Accord of 2019.
In this major step towards the consolidation of peace, we also praise the role played by the UN, namely the UNSG’s Personal Envoy.
This is an important moment to hear about Africa’s priorities.
Global events with local impact and local events with global impact – they both underscore the need to invest in partnerships to address Africa’s development challenges.
Africa faces a significant number of challenges in different areas.
They range from social and economic hindrances to security and development.
And they need to be addressed through national and regional ownership and through international cooperation.
It is crucial to mobilize all available instruments and to further coordinate efforts – both on the bilateral and the multilateral realms – to address peace and security challenges in Africa.
A multi-faceted approach is required to answer the root causes of conflicts.
And concerted forms of cooperation are needed to tackle transnational threats, such as: terrorism; religious extremism; piracy; and other forms of organised crime and illicit trafficking.
Purely military solutions will not suffice.
Work must be done to achieve sustainable and inclusive development and, in the short term, to ensure humanitarian aid for those in need.
Leaving no-one behind cannot be just a motto.
During the cruelest months of the recent pandemic, one sentence was repeated several times in this Chamber: “We are only as strong as the weakest of us”.
This is a truth that we should have in mind also when we talk about peace and development.
We have been strong advocates of a deeper and broader relationship with Africa, always respecting African development agendas and priorities.
Our longstanding approach has always been to engage “WITH” Africa, not to develop policies “ON” Africa.
We recently approved the 2030 Portuguese Development Cooperation Strategy, an important component of Portugal’s external policy.
With this strategy, we will pay special attention to countries in fragile situations.
Improving results in these contexts requires coherent policies – linking the various areas of external action: Diplomacy, Defence and Development.
And it requires integrated responses, in particular by means of the humanitarian-development-peace Nexus.
In this regard, Portugal supports a strategy with three mutually reinforcing axis:
1. Support to Africa’s economic integration, through the African Continental Free Trade Area; through regional economic organizations; and the development of regional and local value chains;
2. Support to efforts of stabilization and regional-crisis prevention and management, on the basis of the principle of African ownership, integrating security with economic development and humanitarian cooperation;
3. Support to the development of strategic corridors and infrastructures (roads, railways, ports, energy, digital) to connect African countries – and to connect Africa with the rest of the world, namely through the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
That is why Portugal has been active in bridging cooperation efforts between Africa and Europe.
In Mozambique, for example, we have deployed a military mission to reinforce the training of the Mozambican special troops, to act in Cabo Delgado.
Portugal has also contributed financially to multilateral projects, notably through UN agencies, aimed at strengthening national counter-terrorism capacities.
We also support projects to assist displaced persons in Cabo Delgado, including through financial contributions and partnerships with NGOs.
This multi-layered combined approach is further complemented with strong investment in human capacity building, namely through providing professional training in Oil & Gas to young population from Cabo Delgado (+Emprego project).
Portugal has also contributed operationally to improving the technical-military capabilities of partner countries of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries.
Maritime security assumes particular relevance.
And that is another issue where the promotion of development in land is crucial to ensure security at sea.
In closing, it is worth reminding that development is not and cannot be portrayed as a pre-condition for the realization of human rights.
Development is itself a right.
Development policies can help address security challenges by investing in critical infrastructure, such as roads, water and sanitation facilities, and energy systems.
This can improve access to basic services, create jobs, and promote economic growth.
All of which can foster the well-being of African nations and African peoples.
All of which can, consequently, contribute to the noble objective of silencing the guns.
I thank you.