Media Launch of Ballots Without Bullets Campaign

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.

This is a very important time in the history of Ghana’s democracy, and I am highly honoured to be part of this history. Thank you very much for the invitation to make a few remarks at the launch of Ballots Without Bullets. A very opportune initiative to make all parties understand and realise 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, 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.

  1. SECURITY CONCERN

As we have heard from other speakers today, our conflict and development analysis 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 chieftaincy conflicts. Further, recent news reports have 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. We cannot and must not allow this to continue.

Violence, in all its forms has a pervasive impact on societies affecting the well-being of people, their ability to thrive and weakens social inclusion. Unchecked armed violence and insecurity has a more destructive impact on a country’s development, affecting economic growth and often resulting in long-standing grievances among communities that cripple any progress.

  1. Call for Action

We comment 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 in essence is the point of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which recognizes that we must not give rise to violence, insecurity and injustice for peaceful, but focus on 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, from all forms of violence and feel safe as they go about their lives. 

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have only 10 years 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 Ghanaian celebrities and social media influencers have in shaping people’s attitudes and behavior, particularly that of the youth, is undeniable. However, we must remember that for the cultural and entertainment industries to continue flourishing, Ghana must remain free of armed violence.

As such I call on all Ghanaian celebrities, actors, musicians, dancers, and social media influencers, big and small to join the train for peace. 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.  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.  This election, let Ghana win.

Thank you. 

Speech by
Author
Charles Abani
UN Resident Coordinator
UN
Charles Abani
UN entities involved in this initiative
RCO
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UNDP
United Nations Development Programme