UNDP Country Director’s Remarks at the Launch of the Elders' Forum of UgandaSep 2, 2015
His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni,
The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament,
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister,
His Lordship the Chief Justice,
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament,
The Elders - in your respective capacities
Heads of Government Ministries Departments and Agencies,
Heads of Political Parties,
Secretary General of Political Parties,
Chancellors of Universities
Representatives of the Religious Leaders,
Representatives of the National Consultative Forum,
Cultural leaders present,
Representatives of the Private Sector,
Representatives of the Youth,
Representatives of the Civil Society Organizations,
Colleagues from the UN,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure and honour to be among you today for the launch of The Elders' Forum of Uganda (TEFU).
The Elders' Forum is one of three pillars that UNDP supports in building national capacities for conflict prevention under the Peace Architecture Framework.
Our experience in over 170 countries of operation globally has given us valuable lessons in supporting the development of national infrastructures for peace.
These lessons include; the value of investing in preventive measures to contain, de-escalate and manage tensions whenever they arise in society, strengthening existing national structures for dialogue; facilitating through these structures, the creation of meditative capacities at all levels in society, as well as finding solutions that have evolved organically and locally for local problems.
UNDP’s driving principle is that sustainable development ultimately rests with national actors. As an emergent nation, the developmental trajectory that Uganda is on, should have capacities and structures for preventing conflict and well as managing and resolving recurring tensions at the national and local levels.
Hence our partnership with the Elders Forum in establishing resilient national capacities for managing tensions and preventing turbulence, as well as supporting national planning and development initiatives such as NDP II, that mainstream conflict prevention.
UNDP’s support for dialogue processes in Uganda has been geared towards building “interdependent structures” which through consultation and consensus, contribute to the development of Uganda.
We are doing this by supporting nationally-owned institutional mechanisms appropriate to the culture of Uganda such as the Elders Forum. The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda and the National Consultative Forum, are the other two pillars of the peace infrastructure.
Through these, we have adopted a co-operative, holistic and problem-solving approach to development, based on negotiation and non-violence. Such infrastructures can help a country manage recurrent conflicts over such matters as land, natural resources, apportioning of mineral wealth, as well as contested elections.
The Elders Forum has demonstrated its solid dedication to the importance of dialogue in fostering institutional reforms, building consensus along disparate fronts and how this ostensibly promotes sustainable development by inculcating a culture of tolerance and peaceful co-existence.
Their commitment to a journey often riddled with disappointment, to a future of a stable country basking in the glow of developmental achievement, a place the rule of law prevails and where every Ugandan enjoys equal treatment, is a dream that keeps these Elders energised to create the safe, impartial space within which dialogue can triumph.
Their recognition and appreciation of the calling within the National Motto “For God and My Country”, heralds their indefatigable commitment to Uganda. Their desire to a peaceful, prosperous and stable Uganda, punctuates their every step. And at UNDP, we shall walk with them in building a true “Pearl of Africa.”
As Uganda moves towards the polls in 2016, there is need to “inoculate” ourselves from past malaise by leveraging on these capacities here today. By employing the wisdom and experience demonstrated by the Elders Forum, and relying on them as credible insider mediators that can be expeditiously and effectively mobilised at all times when constructive dialogue is required, indeed, the greater objective of ensuring peaceful elections shall be achieved.
Learning from past experiences, harnessing our joint efforts and collaborating at all levels shall be instrumental in propelling us to the Uganda we want, the Uganda we all work towards. UNDP shall support, technically and financially, efforts by the Government of Uganda in ensuring a peaceful electoral process.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I conclude, I reiterate that as leaders in our different capacities-political, religious, civil society, private sector and cultural - history shall judge us by our actions. Our ability to learn from our past experiences and to marshal our collective efforts at weaving an intricately meshed Uganda that holds together in the face of the weight it holds together.
I Thank You.