Parliaments are coming to the fore as natural forums, which are uniquely designed to address contentious issues and relationships in conflict-affected societies thereby contributing to peace building efforts.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga noted this while seconding a Motion on the Role of Parliament in promoting peace, justice and strong socio-political institutions moved by Mauritius.
“As Parliamentarians, we are a crucial cog in the peace building process. We must take a central role in ensuring lasting peace on the African continent. Africa has been plagued by so many conflicts which have retarded development.”
The Speaker is in Mauritius attending 47th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CWP) Africa Region Conference.
The Conference that under the theme “Africa for Sustainable Goals: the Role of Parliaments” run from 22nd to 27th August 2016.
Kadaga added that the role of parliament in promoting peace becomes even more pronounced when there is consideration for the correlation between poverty and conflict.
“By addressing issues of poverty, equitable distribution of resources and economic development, Parliamentarians can attempt to guard against the creation of an enabling environment that is prone to the escalation of conflict,” she said.
The Speaker raised concern girls and women in conflict areas of Africa citing Congo, Nigeria, and South Sudan.
She said that women suffer double jeopardy since they are always raped and sexually enslaved.
“These women end up producing children with men they hate. Even when they are rescued, they suffer additional stigma,” she added.
Kadaga noted that the girls who were rescued from the Boko Haram in Nigeria are now being discriminated against by their own community.
She said parliaments can hold governments to account for their action, or task the executive to address critical issues such as poverty reduction, which can reduce society’s vulnerability to conflict.
They are natural places for mediation, where diversity is represented, competing points of view are articulated and where dialogue can build consensus.
The Speaker added that through the oversight function, Parliaments have the latitude to supervise the critical social services, which are imperative for the survival of the citizenry.
“For instance, the health and education sectors are very unique sectors that need special attention by Parliaments.”