Conflicts are best solved by local and regional actors. They know the root causes and the parties best.
When dealing with conflicts in Africa, the main responsibility of solving them lies with African actors, institutions and partners. We welcome the active role played by the AU and ECOWAS among others, in solving ongoing conflicts.
At the same time, it is vital that the international community provides its full support to the African efforts in a sustained and coordinated manner. African ownership has been well demonstrated during the 50 years of existence of the OAU/AU, and we congratulate it on its Golden jubilee.
I believe that many conflicts can be prevented before they become a fact. Prevention may take many forms, however it often lies in the continuum of development, rule of law, peace and prosperity.
There is no peace without development and no development without peace. Both peace and development require respect for human rights. All three elements are strongly interrelated.
There is a need for a more pro-active approach for preventing conflicts taking place, escalating as well as preventing relapse. False notions of a conflict being "an internal matter" should not be an excuse for inaction.
Where conflicts stem from unexpected external shocks, societies need be strong enough to tackle them. We need to make societies more resilient. Resilience should have its prominent place in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
If there are signs of any kind of instability, we need to focus on and solve the root causes. Root causes may be found in excessively centralized governance, unclear or unequal allocation of natural resources, high levels of unemployment, and more generally - in economic hardship. Such causes cannot be taken lightly and will not fade away by themselves – they need to be actively confronted.
The responsibility to confront root causes and to prevent conflicts lies in the hands of local, national and regional leadership. The role of the international community is to support these efforts.
The role of women in conflict resolution is essential. With half the population being women, no outcome is sustainable if women are not included in the process. Women need also be given leading roles in monitoring achieved results. Resolution 1325 and subsequent resolutions on Women, Peace and Security provide a good starting point. However, making resolutions a reality, requires full implementation of them and a need to be embedded in national cultures and processes.
We need to use effective methods for resolving conflicts. Finland promotes preventive diplomacy and the peaceful settlement of conflicts. One important means in this respect is mediation. Finland and Turkey have had a leading role in promoting mediation within the UN system and more widely. We appreciate that many African countries and the African Union are members of the Group of Friends of Mediation.
We need to ensure that there is capacity for mediation at the local, regional and global levels. We are keen to support capacity building in this respect. One example is our partnership with the South African organization Accord in the building mediation capacity of the African Union.
Finland has been a partner of Africa for almost150 years in a variety of areas. We have had mutual benefit from our fruitful cooperation. However, we would like to do more and look forward to intensify our cooperation in the future.
We want to work together with you - African partners - to find the best possible methods for partnership that best serves the current needs as well as those of a bright future!