Culminating a two-day summit meeting at the United Nations Office at Nairobi, African leaders from eleven countries today signed a Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes region which Secretary-General Kofi Annan has praised for its potential to consolidate peace in a region that has seen some of the world’s deadliest conflicts.
The chairman of the Second Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region, President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, proclaimed that the Pact was transforming the vision of the Great Lakes region as an area of peace and prosperity into concrete protocols and programmes of action for the region.
A Protocol on Non-Aggression and Mutual Defence in the Great Lakes Region establishes the foundations to prevent conflicts. Member States also undertook to criminalize any act of aggression or subversion against other States by individuals or groups operating in their respective States.
Kenyan Foreign Minister Raphael Tuju announced that the secretariat for the International Conference would be based in Burundi while Zambia would act as the focal point for democracy and good governance.
The President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, announced that he had nominated to the new post of Executive Secretary Liberata Mulamula, an Ambassador who had been his country’s National Coordinator for the International Conference.
Mrs. Mulamula stated that the countries of the region would “prosper or sink together” and that prosperity was the only option for the region.
The Pact envisages the Great Lakes region as a ‘Specific Reconstruction and Development Area’ with a Special Fund for Reconstruction and Development as its main financial instrument.
As a clear demonstration of the commitment to implement the Pact, the countries of the region committed themselves to pay the mandatory contributions to the Conference Secretariat and to make pledges to the Special Fund. The President of Tanzania announced a contribution of $559,350 to the Secretariat and a contribution of $500,000 to the Special Fund. The President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila, announced an initial contribution to the Special Fund of $1 million.
On behalf of the Group of Friends, the Dutch Minister of Development Cooperation, Agnes van Ardenne, expressed the support of the donor community to the implementation of the Pact and announced a contribution of 5 Million Euros to the Special Fund.
The Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes region includes 33 concrete and achievable projects in the fields of peace and security, democracy and good governance, economic development and regional integration, and humanitarian and social issues. It also has ten protocols that will establish a new legal framework among the member states.
Prior to the pact’s adoption, Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a message to the summit saying the new agreement would be notable “in that it not only addresses issues related to peace and security, but also gives equal importance to democracy, good governance, economic development, regional integration and humanitarian issues, all of which will help consolidate peace and stability.”