Omar Alieu Touray is the president of the ECOWAS Commission.
*As UN seeks code of conduct against misinformation, disinformation
As the world marks the International Day of Peace, the President of the Economic Community of West African States, (ECOWAS), Dr Omar Touray, has called for more stakeholders’ collaboration toward promoting peace, equality and ending racism.
The president made the call at an occasion marking World Peace Day and the launching of a documentary on the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework, (ECPF), at the ECOWAS Commission, in Abuja.
He said World Peace Day is a day set aside by the United Nations (UN) to strengthen global peace through a 24-hour observance of non-violence and ceasefire and to celebrate the virtues of living in peace and harmony with ourselves and humanity.
Harping on the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘End Racism, Build Peace’, Touray noted that achieving true peace entails building societies and creating a world where people are treated equally irrespective of their race.
“These ideals most graciously imposed by the United Nations are indeed the aspirations of the citizens of the economic community of west African states and these ideals have been well encapsulated in our effort of an integrated community of peoples living in a peaceful and prosperous region with strong institution and respect for the fundamental human rights and freedoms striving for inclusive and sustainable development.”
Represented by his special adviser, Mambury Njie, Touray said “more than ever, we need peace in our region, (West Africa), to make meaningful progress in our development and integration agenda.
“Racism and discrimination based on ethnic and religious identities, regionalism and gender among others will indeed prevent the fulfilment of these great aspirations of our people.
“The ECOWAS commission concurs with the United Nations declaration that racism denies people their fundamental human rights, destabilizes societies, undermines democracies and erodes the legitimacy of government,” he adds.
Speaking on the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) documentary which was also launched, the commission’s director of Political Affairs, Dr Aderemi Ajibewa, said the documentary was born out of deep research to help member states understand the place of peace in promoting regional integration.
Ajibewa, who was represented by the Director of Peacekeeping and Regional Security and chief host, Dr Cyriaque Agnekethom, explained that the UN and ECOWAS have a long history of supporting collaboration and evolution of peace strategies and this was signified through the adoption of the resolution on peace and security.
Delivering the keynote address, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to Nigeria, Mathias Schmale said ending discrimination, intolerance, and marginalization based on one’s ethnicity, religion and gender is imperative to more equitable, accountable and responsive societies.
While calling for an empirically backed consensus around facts, science and knowledge to counter misinformation and disinformation, he said the UN is in the process of developing a global code of conduct to address misinformation.
“We now have the additional challenge of misinformation and disinformation and hate speech which creates misunderstanding among people and can lead to the breakdown of social order.
“The theme of this year’s international day of peace in our context reminds us of challenges of ethnicity, religious intolerance and overall marginalization of sections of the society, he said.
Schmale, who was represented by the Director, UN Information Center for Nigeria, Ronald Kayanja, said: “ECOWAS has been and remains a strong partner with the UN in our peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding work in this region and we have worked together the years.
“The UN is grateful to ECOWAS for this continued partnership and it cannot be understated that Nigeria also plays a pivotal role in strengthening interventions in the region and continent.”
In his speech, President, the ECOWAS community court, Justice Edward Asante, represented by Mr Tony Anene-Maidoh, noted that the Russia-Ukrain conflict has further strained global peace as it has brought about “an avalanche of migration crisis and hostilities.”