As the world marked UN International Peace Day on September 21, some institutions and leaders of the Catholic Church around the world have asked political parties and politicians to avoid political and verbal violence but rather aim at promoting peace through polite utterances.
The Chief Executive Officer of Caritas Ghana is one of the leaders who has called on political actors in the west African country of Ghana to make every effort to avoid political and verbal violence ahead of the nation’s general elections.
“As on this day, the United Nations calls for 24 hours of non-violence and ceasefire, ahead of our 2020 elections, our politicians and political commentators must also commit to end the vitriolic verbal violence on each other,” Mr. Samuel Zan Akologo, Executive Secretary of Caritas Ghana told CNS in an interview September 21.
The UN Day of Peace is marked on September 21 of every year and according to Akologo, Caritas Ghana sees the Day as a propitious moment to witness to the theme of "Shaping Peace Together."
He added that the day “is also Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day in Ghana, the man who epitomizes our national freedom from colonialism. Independence and freedom mean nothing if we fail to sustain our social cohesion as one nation, one people, one destiny.”
With the increasing cases of violence in the country, the Catholic Bishops of Ghana in July 22 collective statement urged political parties to avoid all acts of political violence that could mar the beauty of the recently ended registration exercise which has been opened this week for exhibition.
“Stay away from acts that cause violence to enable us to have a peaceful environment for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in December,” the Prelates said in a collective message.
The Message signed by the President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Philip Naameh urged all political parties, particularly the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the major opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to exhibit political maturity and commitment to their signing on to the National Peace Council’s document that outlines the pathway to peace.
“Acts such as bussing people and illegally registering people at various polling centres will always create some form of violence as both parties will not agree to that and hence may ignite some form of violence, the Bishops of Ghana said.
Meanwhile, to mark the UN International Day of Peace, Caritas Africa and Caritas Europa have also in a collective message issued on September 21, called on the European Union (EU) and African leaders to adopt a new framework for EU-Africa relations that puts people at the heart of local peace and security efforts.
“Concerned about the risk of a future partnership marked by top-down approaches, we urge leaders to be inspired by this year’s International Day of Peace theme “Shaping Peace Together”, and to make the upcoming 6th African Union (AU)-European Union (EU) Summit an opportunity to commit to practical ways of building peace through genuinely inclusive processes., the two continental bodies said in the message.
The 6th AU-EU Summit at the end of October is expected to lead to a joint declaration laying down the priorities and concrete actions of the EU-Africa relations in the next few years, including in the fields of peace and security.
Despite the EU’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda principles and to creating a people-centred partnership, previous statements by EU institutions on their vision for this future partnership – such as the proposal made by the European Commission (EC) and the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Council Conclusions on Africa – have consistently focused more on state security. EUAfrica relations should, however, be based on multi-stakeholder partnerships, involving civil society and other actors, not only governments or intergovernmental institutions.
This, Caritas Africa and Europa said in their statement “is particularly relevant given that peacebuilding is a holistic process that requires addressing the root causes of conflict and investing in community-level conflict prevention and social cohesion.”
“Peace building also requires important efforts towards the elimination of extreme poverty and the preservation of the rule of law,” the message added.
“We thus call on EU and African leaders to recognize the importance of local community engagement and the contribution of faith actors in peacebuilding efforts; to establish practical entry-points for grassroots and civil society actors, including women and youth, so they can participate meaningfully in peace initiatives; and to scale-up locally led funding, programming, and partnership opportunities.”
They noted that “As Caritas, we advocate for grassroots participation not only because it is indispensable for the effectiveness of peace building strategies, but foremost because it is a clear option for recognizing each person’s dignity, for solidarity, for co-responsibility, and for the choice to work for the common good.
Adding, the two Caritas bodies said “we envision and encourage the future EU-Africa partnership to benefit from the opportunity to put people at the centre of peace efforts by investing in community-driven initiatives.”
Caritas Europa as well as Carita Africa compose two of the seven regions of Caritas Internationalis, the global confederation of Caritas. Caritas Africa is the network of 46 Caritas organisations in 46 African countries. Caritas Africa member organisations are part of the local communities they serve, and focus on human development, peace building and economic justice, while practically responding to some of the world’s largest and most complex humanitarian emergencies. Caritas Europa is the network of 49 Caritas organisations in 46 European countries.