Enlivening Transitional Justice within the African Union's Agenda of Silencing the Guns: Looking Beyond 2020

The African Union (AU) declared 2020 the year of “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.” The motivation for this theme was to provide impetus for and take stock of the activities that had been undertaken in furtherance of the 2013 Solemn Declaration by Africa’s Heads of State and Government to realise a conflict-free Africa by 2020. The Solemn Declaration, which was made on the milestone of the AU’s 50th anniversary, consisted of several elements. First, the Solemn Declaration identified the resolution of economic and social disparities as well as ending impunity to be key pillars of addressing the underlying causes of conflict. The fight against impunity was to be underpinned by strong judicial institutions at the national and continental level, as a realisation of the AU’s core principle of non-indifference. Another feature of the Solemn Declaration was the elimination of recurring and emerging sources of conflict, which include piracy, human and narcotics trafficking, terrorism, extremism, transnational organised crime and cybercrime, to name but a few. Operationalising the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and the African Standby Force were prioritised as part of a wider agenda to advance conflict prevention, peace-making, national reconciliation and post-conflict reconstruction and development. With regard to weapons of war, the Solemn Declaration pledged a nuclear-free Africa and the fulfilment of obligations related to eliminating landmines and the non-proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Finally, the Solemn Declaration undertook to tend to the plight of forced migrants by fully implementing continental and universal obligations pertaining to the rights of internally displaced persons and refugees.