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Opinions of Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Columnist: Solomon Okai

Open letter to Parliament: The peace fund was launched only to be neglected in the 2022 budget statement

The parliament of Ghana The parliament of Ghana

Dear Honourable Members of Parliament,

We hope this letter finds you in good health. Please accept our warm greetings.
This is an organisational appeal from the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA) for parliament to consider allocations to the Peace Fund for the 2022 fiscal year.

This appeal is motivated by our observation in the past few weeks following the launch of the Peace Fund. The Peace Fund was launched on the 15th of October 2021 by Defence Minister (Hon. Dominic Nitiwul) on behalf of the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo.

Importantly, the Peace Fund launch was a fulfilment of section 20 of the Peace Council Act, 81 after 15 years of the existence of the National Peace Council (NPC) and 10 years since the passage of the National Peace Council Act 2011(Act 818).

The Peace Fund was launched at a time when security issues were assuming a worrying trend on the continent and became a priority issue to many states in West Africa and to ECOWAS.

As we write this letter some West African states are either currently engulfed in a war against vigilantism and terrorism or facing imminent threats of the same of which Ghana is not immune. Others are having to grapple with coup d’états and other internal conflicts.

We have cherished the fact that Ghana is internationally acclaimed as a beacon of peace in the subregion and in Africa as a whole. However, the country has experienced its share of conflicts to deal with across the country including chieftaincy and ethnic disputes, land and natural resource disputes which erupt every now and then to prompt stakeholders to sit up.

In recent times, Ghana has borne the pain of dealing with Succession attempts; the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), the Western Togoland Restoration Front (WTRF); Issues of political party vigilantism, rising cybercrime and general criminal activities fuelled by youth unemployment as well as rise in
transnational crime including illegal arms trade, continue to threaten the peace and security of the country.

In the face of these growing threats and modern security dynamics, Ghana must adopt a structural and systemic peace-building approach, also referred to as a human security approach to peace and security. That is why FOSDA described the Peace Fund as timely and critical after it was launched. The Peace Fund is a crucial component of Ghana’s Peace strategy.

We wish to remind the Honourable Parliamentarians that, Ghana’s peace remains threatened with the shift of terrorist activities moving towards the Sahel region. With the average level of global peacefulness deteriorating by 0.07% Ghana currently ranks 38 out of 163 on the Global Peace Index, 2021 with a score of 1.715 moving 2 paces upwards compared to the previous index in 2020. Ghana’s Peace Council has been instrumental in this achievement.

Nevertheless, this impressive result means, more work needs to be done to continue safeguarding the peace of the country in a dynamic and volatile region.
The Peace Council has previously suffered from inadequate resourcing, making it difficult to ensure sustainable peace in the country.

FOSDA was expecting that the 2022 budget would be a fine opportunity for the government to commit substantial allocation to support the operations of the
Peace Council. As it remains now there are no signals of the government's commitment to the fund following the Budget Statement read on Wednesday, 17th November 2021.

Section 21 of Act 818 lists the sources of the Peace Fund including contributions from Government, Local, private, public and international organisations, contributions from foreign governments among others. We strongly urge the House to debate on this matter and consider the security of the country from the perspective of the Peace Fund.

The Fund which seeks to resource the Council to manage, and resolve conflict and to build sustainable peace must be given attention in the parliamentary debate ahead of the appropriation. This will go a long way to help the Peace Council to contribute to pre-empt any attempt to destabilise peace in Ghana.

As you deliberate on the Budget Statement in the days ahead, we hope that in the end, a substantial transfer to the Peace Fund is considered.

Please accept, the assurance of our highest consideration.