Peace, Conflict and Security in the post 2015 Development Agenda

post The ACTION Support Centre, in collaboration with Saferworld, hosted a one-day seminar on the 26th of February at the University of the Witwatersrand to discuss peace and security issues in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The seminar brought together a number of prominent people that have worked in the development field, civil society organisations, women’s organisations and academics. Speakers included Robert Parker, the Director of Policy and Communications from Saferworld, Adane Ghebremeskel from SADC Council of NGO’s and Richard Smith from the ACTION Support Centre. An introduction to peace and security and the Post-2015 development agenda was given, followed by discussions of key issues. Some of these included the peace, security and development nexus in Africa and its connection to the Post -2015 Development Agenda, as well as the role of South Africa and regional organisations in promoting peace and security issues in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. Challenges and opportunities were a focal point of the seminar, and group discussions focussed on developing strategies and identifying opportunities for promoting peace and security issues in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. From the discussion it emerged that communities are not always aware of their rights, in terms of what the government should be providing for them, as well as the fact that all citizens, including minority groups such as migrants and refugees, should share the same rights, and be treated as equals. There is much work to be done in this area. For example, in South Africa, a greater understanding of why there is an influx of migrants may have helped prevent violent xenophobic attacks that were carried out against migrants when they were perceived to be responsible for the lack of services that should, in fact, have been provided by the government. Securing equal political representation for disenfranchised populations is key to ensuring they can participate in key decisions and enjoy the same levels of development at the national and the local level. If communities are involved in decision-making processes and they are equally represented, this creates spaces for engagement where their grievances and needs can be addressed. Furthermore, governments in Africa should be equipped with effective national and grassroots mechanisms to build social cohesion and prevent conflict.  Social protection, for instance through public works, school-feeding programs or insurance schemes can play a key role in ensuring that poor and marginalized groups can recover from crises and recover from poverty. For example, social pension initiatives in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and Namibia have been successful in that regard. Inequalities and lack of access to resources in Africa can have debilitating effects on human development and economic growth. Making sure people from all backgrounds in Africa can lead equally long, healthy and productive lives is not only a human right but a smart economic and development measure. Working to redress these imbalances can have considerable impact in helping Africa to achieve the transition from economic growth to sustainable and inclusive human development. If there is reduction in the number of service delivery protests that become violent, then we can say progress has been made.