By Melody Azinim, Peace & Governance Programme Analyst, UNDP Ghana on International Day of Peace
Embracing Peace towards achieving the Global Goals
September 20, 2023
In a world often defined by its challenges and conflicts, the International Day of Peace stands as a symbol, reminding us of the collective desire for harmony, understanding, and unity. This year’s theme “Actions for peace: Our ambition for the Global Goals” serves as a call to everyone to come together and actively work towards a more peaceful and equitable world.
The 2023 Global Peace Index shows that the average level of global peacefulness deteriorated by 0.42 per cent. This is the 13th deterioration in peacefulness in the last fifteen years. Out of the 163 countries assessed, 84 countries improved while 79 countries deteriorated in peacefulness in 2022. The report also indicated that 2022 marked the deadliest year of armed conflict, with the economic toll of global violence increasing by 17% or $1 trillion to $17.5 trillion in 2022, equivalent to 13% of global GDP. Though coastal west Africa is said to be at its most peaceful moments, sub–Saharan Africa especially the Sahel has become the epicenter of terrorism.
Ghana’s global ranking dropped from 40th to 51st in 2022, and the country lost its title as the most peaceful in West Africa to Sierra Leone. Ghana still grapples with communal conflicts over land and natural resources, succession disputes and the rise in the use of hate speech through fake news and insults aimed at discrediting opponents. Other emerging threats to social cohesion include herder-farmer conflicts which is worsening due to the impact of climate change on available water and arable land. Cases of violent extremism and terror attacks in neighboring countries are also rising, worsening the humanitarian situation. If these are not addressed, these could reverse the progress made in human development.
Peace plays a crucial role in achieving the agenda 2030. It is directly tied to development, with peaceful societies progressing and developed societies more likely to be peaceful. That is why the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions is seen as a key driver for achieving other SDGs. It calls for peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels. This is essential for Ghana, which is recognized as a beacon of peace in a region where many neighboring countries face challenges.
The government of Ghana through its ministries and agencies such as the National Peace Council and its regional offices, actively work on various engagements to prevent conflicts and strengthen relationships for a peaceful country. Government’s initiative on “See Something, Say Something” is encouraging citizens to be conscious of their environment and report signs of potential violence. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with several government agencies has also empowered communities to be peace ambassadors and contributes to enhancing border security to prevent the illegal flow of weapons.
As we mark the mid-term implementation of the Agenda 2030, it is crucial to accelerate efforts in building peace to achieve the SDGs. This year’s theme urges us to take ACTION.
Promote inclusion in peacebuilding
First, we must actively include everyone such as the youth, women and persons with disability in all peacebuilding efforts at all levels. Since peace affects everyone differently, it is important to ensure all voices are heard for effective and relevant progress.
As one of the many steps in that direction, the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, adopted in 2015, encourages member states to actively engage youth in decision-making in peace processes at local, national, regional and international levels. With about one-third of Ghana’s population being youthful, it is important to harness their potential by providing the needed resources and platforms for their ideas in shaping peace and development.
Speed up policy implementation
Similarly, the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 1325) calls for women’s participation in peace processes, protection of their rights during conflicts and their access to services in times of emergencies and conflicts. UNDP in Ghana has supported the government in the development of its first and second National Action Plans on Women, Peace, and Security. Implementing the GHANAP II is vital, requiring commitment from all stakeholders.
Strengthen capacity of communities to be agents of peace
Building the capacity of communities as key agents of change and for peace is critical in a volatile world. Dialogue with the various conflicting groups will serve as a platform to understand their differences and find a common ground for building peace and social cohesion. We need to create an enabling environment in communities where stereotypes are challenged, and everyone works together to build a path towards peace.
Address drivers of conflicts
Finally, we must tackle important issues like youth unemployment, development gaps and improve relationships between civilians and security forces. These measures are essential for the development of Ghana and Africa as a whole.
To conclude, Ghana’s progress cannot be taken for granted and must be protected by preventing even the most localized pockets of communal, ethnic, resource and chieftaincy-based violence. Political interest that threatens the peace and development of the country must be discouraged.
On days like today’s International Day of Peace, we must cherish our peace, but we must also commit to taking actions for peace every day!