Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights
New York, New York
March 30, 2023
At the outset, I would like to first thank President Nyusi for chairing today’s important discussion and congratulate him on Mozambique’s successful Security Council presidency. I would also like to thank all of our distinguished speakers for their informative briefings.
As our briefers shared today, we need a departure from status quo solutions to silence the guns on the African continent. If left unchecked, deadly conflicts will divide Africa’s societies, corruption will impede economic progress, mismanagement will squander natural resources, food insecurity will heighten the risk of famine and malnutrition, inequity will erode social and economic gains, and repression will stifle the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. These challenges are especially pressing for communities in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa – they require a comprehensive approach. This is why the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa calls for the United States to leverage all our diplomatic, development, and defense capabilities; strengthen our trade and commercial ties; focus on digital ecosystems; and rebalance toward urban hubs to realize a new vision for how the African people will shape the future of Africa and of the world.
To this end, the Vice President just announced our $1 billion in economic empowerment initiatives for women in Africa. As Vice President Harris made clear while visiting Ghana this week, the United States is committed to investing in African ingenuity and creativity to spur robust economic growth and opportunities in Africa and beyond. Economic development alone, however, is not the master key to unlocking peace and stability. Societies prosper most when they combine robust democracy with development. President Biden has repeatedly stated that we are at an inflection point when it comes to the future of democracy. Democracy has faced severe setbacks in many parts of Africa, with seven undemocratic transitions of power having occurred in the last two years in West and Central Africa. At the same time, recent years’ developments in Nigeria, Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, and The Gambia have shown that democracy can still triumph via the ballot box. The events of 2022 put in stark relief what we already know: that democratic governance, grounded in the rule of law, accountability, and respect for human rights, remains the best tool we have to unleash human potential, maintain international peace and security, foster prosperity, and uphold human dignity.
The United States is committed to the full achievement of all Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and I am particularly heartened to see this discussion center around SDG 16 – peace, justice, and strong institutions.
As the 2030 Agenda recognizes, sustainable development, which balances economic, social, and environmental concerns, must be advanced alongside the other equal and interlinked pillars of the UN Charter, including peace and security, human rights, and rule of law. These democratic principles, along with those in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and the Silencing the Guns roadmap, provide an affirmative vision for sustainable peace, development, and security in Africa. We also recognize the vital role that UN arms embargos play in promoting the Silencing the Guns Agenda and in limiting the flow of weapons into conflict zones.
As our National Security Strategy articulates, democratic governance consistently outperforms authoritarianism in protecting human dignity, leads to more prosperous and resilient societies, creates stronger and more reliable economic and security partners, and encourages peace and stability.
That is why we are proud to be co-hosting today [March 29-30] the second Summit for Democracy with the leaders of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Zambia. This diverse group of co-hosts underscores a global demand signal for accountable, transparent, and rights-respecting governance and commitment to collective action.
However, collective action at the global level will not work without empowerment at the local level. I’ve observed this time and again in my travels, including in my visit last year to Mozambique and earlier this month to The Gambia, Mauritania, and Senegal. From southern to West Africa, local leaders and civil society have emphasized to me the imperative for them to have the ability to set their own agendas, develop solutions, and receive resources and capacity-building support to anchor peace and security at home. In line with SDG 16, we support inclusive, participatory, and representative decision-making at all levels.
Civil society, including religious and traditional leaders and actors, are essential partners in advancing more open, secure, free, and prosperous societies. As active members of their communities, civil society actors have insight on key opportunities to promote peace and stability and represent the strongest bulwark from destabilizing forces, and we must support their strength and resilience.
Ultimately, we believe the best strategy for saving lives, building lasting stability, and disrupting the cycle of violence is to prevent conflicts before they happen. Through our new, ten-year U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability, we are actively working with partners to ensure that diverse perspectives are included in decision-making around peace and security and that local voices and locally-led solutions, grounded in mutual trust and long-term accountability, are at the forefront of building inclusive resilience. This strategy aims to shore up long-term civilian security, particularly in Mozambique and in Coastal West African states, that share growing extremist threats on their borders.
I applaud President Nyusi for his leadership of efforts to counter vulnerabilities to terrorism, bolster recovery from its impacts, and address the root causes of instability in northern Mozambique. We are proud to support Mozambique’s plans to promote reconciliation, inclusive and sustainable development, and resilience in historically marginalized and conflict-affected areas, as well as civil society and private sector initiatives to foster pathways for inclusive economic growth to increase employment among young Mozambicans.
I am pleased to share that last week, on March 24, we transmitted our Ten-Year Plans to implement the U.S. Strategy to Prevent Conflict and Promote Stability to the United States Congress. We are launching the next phase of this ground-breaking initiative to reboot our approach to conflict prevention and help a select set of partner countries progress towards a more peaceful and resilient future. Each plan tailors our shared approach to the unique challenges and opportunities of the local and regional context. We will continue to emphasize and elevate local voices and solutions to prevent conflict and promote stability. We understand the context in each country inevitably changes, and these plans will adapt and evolve as necessary.
As President Biden has noted, instability anywhere in our interconnected world can have global repercussions. The United States is committed to strengthening global resiliency and democratic renewal, and promoting open, peaceful, inclusive, and self-reliant nations that become strong economic and security partners capable of addressing shared challenges. We look forward to working together to realize these shared goals.