The Executive Secretary of National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, NACSA, Mr. Jones Applerh
The Electoral Commissioner and Deputy Chairperson, Bossman Asare
The National Commission for Civic Education Chairperson, Josephine Nkrumah
The Executive Secretary National Peace Council, Mr. George Amoh
Director General Special Duties Ghana Police Service, COP Christian Tetteh Yohuno
The Charge’ d’ Affaires of the Embassy of Federal Republic of Germany to Ghana, H.E Mr. Helge Sander
The Representative of ECOWAS Commission in Ghana, H.E Gana Wakil
The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Behanzin
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas
The UNDP Officer in Charge, Silke Hollander
All protocols Observed
This is a very important time in the history of Ghana’s democracy and I am highly honored to be part of this history. Thank you very much for the invitation to make few remarks at the launch of Ballots Without Bullets. It is a very opportune initiative to remind all parties of the significance of tolerance, peace, diversity and a unified nation.
I commend all stakeholders and congratulate you for your foresight to reach out to the citizens with the message of peace ahead of the general and parliamentary elections.
The United Nations is proud of the progress Ghana has made in terms of consolidating its democracy over the past decades, maintaining peace and the rule of law. Ghana is an inspiration and a beacon of hope across Africa and an example to the rest of the world.
The United Nations is proud of its partnership with Ghana, particularly the continuous endeavor to strengthen key institutions of governance that uphold Ghana’s outstanding democratic record of holding peaceful, inclusive and credible elections.
The UN has provided long-standing development assistance to key governance institutions on numerous initiatives to help increase stakeholder confidence in Ghana’s electoral process and to promote peaceful environment for elections. Currently, the UN Country Team in Ghana has articulated in the UN Sustainable Development Partnership framework for 2018 through 2022 (and its COVID-responsive Socio-economic response and recovery plan-SERRP), our commitment to supporting the efforts of Government and civil society to further strengthen institutions for accountable governance, for peace and conflict resolution and to ensure that economic growth is inclusive. We shall continue to stand with Ghana in these efforts.
- SECURITY CONCERNS
As we have heard from other speakers today, our conflict and development analyses confirm that the country not only has the capacity to manufacture small arms and light weapons but it is affected by the proliferation of illicit weapons. Particularly, the culture of weapon possession is noticeable and widespread in the rural areas where it is a symbol of power, identity and readiness to protect one’s family or use in other conflicts. Further, recent news report has also shown the readily use of firearms in violent crime.
Overall, there is a marked increase in violent crime committed with weapons. This gun violence has permeated elections through vigilante groups and threatens to erase Ghana’s hard-earned democratic credentials and development gains. This is a lethal cocktail that Ghana and Ghanaians cannot and must not allow to gain a foot hold and thrive is nation noted for its peace.
Violence, in all its forms has a pervasive impact on societies-heightening impunity, affecting the well-being of people, their ability to thrive and weakens social inclusion. Unchecked armed violence and insecurity has a destructive impact on a country’s development, affecting economic growth and often exacerbating long-standing grievances among communities that cripple progress and negate the power of dialogue, enthroning violence
- CALL FOR ACTION
We commend the leadership of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons and the Electoral Commission in championing this campaign of “Ballots Without Bullets” to promote a violence-free election and in effect guarantee that people can go to the polls without fear to freely choose their representatives. This is essential to Ghana achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There can be no development without peace.
We therefore enjoin all actors to focus not on violence and insecurity but instead to focus on the factors which promote just and inclusive societies based on respect for human rights, the rule of law and effective and accountable institutions.
It is the only way to ensure that people are free of fear, free from all forms of violence and feel safe as they go about their lives.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have only 10years left to achieve the promise of the SDGs. Last year the UN Secretary General called on all sectors of society to mobilize for a ‘Decade of Action’. This requires each of us to take action-individually and collectively, locally and globally. We must all join this campaign to create awareness on the need to curb the proliferation of small arms.
In addition to all the robust institutional efforts that are ongoing, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, there is another group of Ghanaians whom I believe have not been engaged enough but are especially poised to make a marked difference.
Since being in Ghana, I have witnessed firsthand, Ghana’s thriving cultural and entertainment industry. The impact that Ghanaian celebrities, entertainers and social media influencers have in shaping people’s attitudes and behavior particularly that of the youth is profound and undeniable. You are able to reach millions of followers.
You thrive because Ghana does! And make no mistake, you wield significant influence! However, for the cultural and entertainment industries to continue to grow and flourish, Ghana must remain free of armed violence.
As such I call on all Ghanaian entertainers, big and small, celebrities, actors, musicians, dancers and social media influencers, to join the train for peace.
Be force for good in this great nation. As you grow, give back. We challenge all of you to invest in Ghana’s peace by adding your voice to this campaign.
Reach out to the Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, reach out to the United Nations and join us as champions in promoting violence free elections. And start today on your social media handles-use the #ballotswithoutbullets to convey a powerful message of peace to all Ghanaians in your sphere of influence.
For in peace we can all continue to thrive, so let us all contribute to ensure that Ghana continues to be a beacon of peace.
In this election, as usual, let Ghana win. All of Ghana.