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General News of Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Source: Permanent Mission of Ghana to the United Nations,

Ghana calls for support for regional and civil societies

Ghana has called for regional organizations to be supported with the necessary tools and capacity to efficiently partner state institutions and civil society organizations in promoting peace and sustainable development.

This is because regional organizations and civil societies have indispensable roles to play in optimizing the gains to be derived from the global development agenda.

Addressing a high-level Thematic Debate of the General Assembly on "Strengthening Cooperation between the United Nations and Regional and Sub-regional Organizations" in New York, Ghana's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Philbert Johnson underscored the fact that no meaningful development can be achieved in an unstable and insecure environment.

The programme, which was hosted at the United Nations headquarters by Ghana and the Netherlands, was organized by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS), attracted member states and some CSOs.

Giving a picture of the West African experience to buttress the point, Mr. Johnson, who is currently the Chargé d'Affaires, said civil society organizations have also played useful roles in peace building and reconciliation.

"They have been very active especially in the areas of research and training, conflict management, alternative dispute resolution, human rights activism and legal assistance to support peace, security and stability initiatives across the sub-region", he stated.

Furthermore, the Chargé d'Affaires noted that there had been some useful collaborative initiatives between some civil society organizations, state institutions and non-state groups such as chiefs and religious leaders.

"These collaborative initiatives have been to enhance and consolidate peaceful co-existence between divergent religious and ethnic communities", he explained.

The successes achieved by ECOWAS in peace and security for example, he said, was due to some useful mechanisms used in preventing and negotiating the peaceful resolutions of conflicts within the West Africa sub-region.

Mr. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, the Netherlands Ambassador to the UN said civil societies had a greater role to play in strengthening cooperation between the UN and Regional and Sub-regional groups.

During the interactive discussion, Mr. Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer of the IDEA said "we need the peace and security institutions to meet the post 2015 development agenda". He called for strategic partnership and more efficient analysis of situations to prevent conflict.

Ms. Levinia Addae-Mensah, Deputy Executive Director of West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, attributed the successes achieved in controlling the crisis in Burkina Faso in 2014 to the effective use of the existing early warning systems.

She pointed out that in that particular case ECOWAS used the specific country indicators to avert a more serious situation, adding that "when we talk about conflict prevention measures really, it helps to prevent violence".

On her part, Ms. Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls, Executive Director, Kenlink Pacific, spoke about the specific role of gender, especially, women in conflict resolution in the Pacific Island States.

She said that institutional reforms were linked to development agenda, saying that "we therefore need to support civil society organizations to achieve peace and security at the regional levels".