By David W. Nerubucha

This paper argues that the approach to peace, conflict and development issues in the world today, in particular Africa, should be underpinned by strong ethical values. In the Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith declared the need for actions based on universal values which go far beyond the motivation of self-interest.

The humanistic considerations of empathy, justice, and selfless service are values that must be at the heart of decision making for attaining the goal of healthy communities in Africa. In fact, many conflicts in the world today are a result of a lack of prudence, public spiritedness, solidarity, transparency and democratic accountability.

In his speech at Adam Smith College in Fife, Scotland in 2009, Kofi Annan remarked that “we must draw upon common values with which peace can be achieved and conflict resolved.”

Hope springs eternally for the positive aggregate growth rates and poverty reduction efforts of many African nations.  Despite rapid population growth rates in Africa, the number of people living in poverty has leveled off.  It is also heartening that in Africa the trend in recent years has progressively become one of less violent conflicts and more democratic governments than ever.

 Considering the above trend, private-public partnerships (PPPs) are both key and catalyst for the creation of a conflict-free society necessary for a variety of business activities, particularly around major infrastructures at the intra-regional level. It is important that PPPs accord priority to ventures with strong potential to generate work and public goods. According to Annan, expanded investments in health, education, and agriculture could yield social and economic dividends for Africa and the world.

The major conundrum, from an African perspective, is how to optimize the nexus between peace, conflict resolution and development. Under the prevailing global financial crises, where is the money for conflict resolution, peace-building and development, and how can the beleaguered African states access it, and furthermore, under what conditions? Annan recommends that policy prescriptions must have poverty and disaster risk-reduction at their core. These, he contends, are not necessarily technical issues but are more about global values. Finance that is not underpinned by an ethical framework, Annan observes, would be unfair and impracticable to the poor developing regions (notably Africa), notwithstanding any global emergency measures. Policies and practices rooted in basic values designed to address peace, injustice, inequality and conflict would be doomed without strategic leadership.



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