To mark this year’s commemoration of the International Day of Peace, Malawi launched its National Peace Policy on 29th November in Lilongwe. The day was commemorated under the theme, Together for Peace: Unity in Diversity, highlighting the need to embrace diversity as a pre-requisite for promoting peace.
Malawi President Arthur Peter Mutharika said the commemoration of the day and launch of the policy exemplified Malawi’s commitment to peace, saying it was important to celebrate peace because nothing works where there is no peace.
“We value peace and that is why Malawi has been at peace for all these years. It is symbolic that we launch the National Peace Policy on this day,” said Mutharika.
Development of the policy involved extensive consultations with the executive, legislative, political parties, faith groups, women’s groups, youth representatives and others. The policy provides a framework for all stakeholders involved in conflict prevention to collaborate, to identify and respond to early warning signs of conflict, and to promote peace education.
UNDP Resident Representative Claire Medina (ad interim) described Malawi’s first ever National Peace Policy as an important milestone in sustaining peace and unity in the country, saying Malawi should be proud of its peace record considering that several African countries have suffered civil wars and conflicts over the years.
“Absence of war, however, does not mean we can be sure of lasting and sustained peace,” said Medina. “There are warning signs and new challenges. Political tensions, gender-based violence, lack of economic opportunities and inequality – amongst others – threaten the peaceful coexistence of all Malawians.
“As we look to the future, climate change and population growth risk intensifying a struggle for natural resources. Marginalization can drive ethnic and regional tensions… This Peace Policy, then, represents Malawi’s choice. A choice to invest in Peace rather than respond – too late – to violent conflict.”
Medina said trust and dialogue will be key to the success of the policy, enabling Malawi to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 16, which promotes peaceful and inclusive societies.
“District Peace Committees are already being rolled out, with three pilots. The Women in Peacebuilding and the Youth Peace Fora recently established speak to the principle of inclusivity enshrined in the Policy.
“Moving forward to implementation of the Policy, including translating it into legal Acts, and rolling out a sustainable National Peace Architecture will truly make Malawi a model for lasting peace and development for other countries to look to,” said Medina.