Borders crucial for peace, security across Africa – AU


 The African Union (AU) has described borders as instruments of opportunity, playing a crucial role in the pursuit of peace and security across the continent.

Dr Sarjoh Bah, Director, Conflict Management Directorate at the Political Affairs, Peace and Security Department of the AU, said this in a statement on Friday in commemoration of the 14th Africa Border Day.
Africa Border Day is celebrated annually on June 7, to promote peace, cross-border cooperation and regional integration in Africa.
The day was initiated by the African Ministers in Charge of Borders on May 25, 2010 and also shines a spotlight on the African Union Border Programme (AUBP).
Bah said since 2007, the AUBP had been the cornerstone of Africa’s collective endeavor to transform borders from barriers into bridges of solidarity.
This transformation, he said, is not just pivotal, but also crucial in pre-empting conflicts, fostering regional cohesion, and propelling continental integration forward.
“We should leverage our Member States and Regional Economic Communities, to transform our borders into arenas of peaceful dialogue and constructive engagement.
“Our borders should not be subjects of contention but rather bedrocks for policy implementation, as encapsulated in the African Union Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (Niamey Convention) and the African Union Strategy for Border Governance,” he said.
Bah said the AUBP’s mission extended beyond conflict prevention, adding that it was a tool for resolving border disputes that have resurfaced, spurred by the allure of newfound natural resources.
According to him, security challenges are predominantly concentrated along border areas which were once overlooked but are now at the forefront of the battle against cross-border crime and terrorism.
“It is imperative that we concentrate our efforts in these regions to cultivate peace, security, and sustainable development.
“The resilience we foster in border communities, fuelled by cross-border cooperation, equips us to combat transnational crime and mitigate the impacts of climate change,” Bah said.
On his part, by embracing cooperative strategies, Africa can ensure effective management of forced displacements, food shortages, humanitarian crises, and resource-related conflicts.
He said while international arbitration remained an option, its protracted and costly nature often strained the camaraderie between nations.
Bah urged member states to prioritise dialogue and cooperation as alternative dispute-resolution methods.
“When necessary, the AU encourages the invocation of the political, diplomatic, and technical resources to secure enduring resolutions to border disputes.
“As we celebrate this year’s Africa Day, let us amplify our efforts to embed our borders at the core of Agenda 2063’s objectives.

“We must unite to forge an integrated Africa characterised by peaceful, open, and prosperous borders that are a testament to our shared vision and collective strength,” he said

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