The Africa Peace Award (APA) 2015 has been awarded to the African Union Commission (AUC), in a colourful ceremony that took place on Saturday, 21 November 2015, at the International Conference Centre in Durban, South Africa.
The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), Graça Machel, said the AU Commission was given the Africa Peace Award as a symbol of its unwavering commitment and hard work towards promoting peace and security, human rights, good governance and socio-economic development in Africa. President Jacob Zuma of South Africa as well as other dignitaries and members of the Diplomatic Corps attended the function.
“Today, we celebrate the African Union… We are proud of the African Union’s unwavering commitment and work as well as the example it continues to set for the years to come,” Graça Machel congratulated the AU Commission as she listed a battery of areas in which the AU Commission has made outstanding contribution.
Accepting the Award on behalf of the leadership and staff of the AU Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, said that she was accepting the milestone accolade with the recognition that millions of ordinary and dedicated Africans have worked hard, and continue to toil tirelessly for peace and security in Africa. “We do recognise equally that thousands of them have paid the ultimate price in our quest for peace and development,” she added.
The AU Commission Chairperson took the opportunity to underline the strong inter-relationship between peace and development. “Peace and development would be a fleeting illusion so long as half the population lives on less than $2 a day,” noting that the world can only stand a chance of achieving sustainable peace after addressing injustices of poverty, social injustices, discrimination and humiliation all over the world. (See full speech.)
On his part, the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, congratulated the AU Commission for its efforts and the “enormous contribution” to peace, which have resulted in the holding of successful free, fair and credible elections in Africa, allowing the people to choose their leaders. He called for sustained collective efforts to resolve and stabilize situations like those currently unfolding in Burundi.
The Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD took the opportunity to call on the United Nations to organize the first global conference on peace, which he enjoined the AU and the Government of South Africa to co-host.
The Africa Peace Award ceremony was also attended by the Speaker of the South African Parliament as well as High Level officials of the South African government, the UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa, Maged Abdelaziz, members of the Diplomatic Corps in and outside South Africa and over 700 dignitaries and guests from abroad and from within South Africa. ACCORD acknowledged the strong contribution and support of the private sector in sponsoring the award ceremony.
Apart from the AU Commission, countries and institutions that have received the APA include the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, the Children of Africa and some countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Burundi.
The APA was instituted in 1993 as an initiative of the prominent conflict management organisation, the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), to “celebrate peace across the continent” and acknowledge “individuals, communities and nations who respect human rights, settle conflicts peacefully, and ensure the good governance of public affairs.”