Wednesday, October 31, 2007


U.N. calls on African states to sign Geneva treaty
Tue 30 Oct 2007, 16:04 GMT

[-] Text [+] NAIROBI, Oct 30 (Reuters) - More African governments should sign the Geneva Declaration on armed violence or risk stunting their fledgling economic growth, a senior United Nations official said on Tuesday.

Since it was established in June 2006, only 42 countries, 10 of them from Africa, have signed the declaration which commits nations to tackling armed conflict, blamed for poor economic growth.

"If African countries are slow to respond to the convention, armed violence will impact their development negatively and undermine their ability to achieve the millennium development goals," said Peter Batchelor, head of the U.N. Conflict Prevention and Recovery Team.

He told a meeting on conflict prevention that African countries would fail to achieve the millennium development goals if they did not sign up to the declaration and work out practical steps for stamping out armed violence.

"We are calling upon the African countries which have not endorsed the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development to do so," Kenya's Foreign Affairs Minister Raphael Tuju told the meeting in Nairobi.

A recent Oxfam and Saferworld publication estimated that armed conflict in Africa costs the continent some $18 billion per year.

The report also said that armed conflict on average shrinks a country's economy by 15 percent.

The African Union has advocated finding home grown solutions for conflicts in Sudan's Darfur region, Uganda's north, and Somalia among others.

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