After 15 years of the existence of the National Peace Council (NPC) and 10 years since the passage of the National Peace Council Act 2011(Act 818), Ghana has finally launched a Peace Fund. The historic ‘Peace Fund’, which was Launched on 15th October 2021 by Defence Minister (Dominic Nitiwul) on behalf of the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo, is in fulfilment of section 20 of Act 818.
This ‘Fund’ comes at a time when security issues have become priority to many states in West Africa and to ECOWAS. Most West African states are either currently engulfed in a war against vigilantism and terrorism or facing imminent threats of same of which Ghana is not left out. Others are having to grapple with coup d’états and other internal conflicts.
Ghana is internationally acclaimed as a beacon of peace in the sub-region and in Africa as a whole. However, the country has its share of conflicts to deal with across the country including chieftaincy, ethnic, land and other resource disputes which erupts every now and then to prompt stakeholder to sit up. In recent times, Ghana has borne the pain of dealing with Succession attempts; the Homeland Study Group Foundation (HSGF), the Western Togoland Restoration Front (WTRF) Issues of political party vigilantism rising crime fuelled by youth unemployment as well as rise in transnational crime including illegal arms trade, continue to threaten the peace and security of the country. In the face of these growing threats and modern security dynamics, Ghana must adopt a structural and systemic peace-building approach, also referred to as a human security approach to peace and security, and the Peace Fund in a crucial component of this strategy.
Ghana’s peace remains threatened with the shift of terrorist activities moving towards the Sahel region. With average level of global peacefulness deteriorating by 0.07% Ghana currently ranks 38 out of 163 on the Global Peace Index, 2021 with a score of 1.715 moving 2 paces upwards. Ghana’s Peace Council has been instrumental in achieving this feat. Nevertheless, this impressive result means, more work needs to be done to continue safeguarding the Peace of the country in a volatile region.
The ‘Fund’ which seeks to resource the Council to manage, and resolve conflict and to build sustainable peace must be added to the priority list of government in the upcoming budget if indeed the focus is to pre-empt any attempt to destabilize peace in Ghana. It is certainly nice to applaud this move but more importantly is the critical step in sustaining the gains chalked on Peace and Security. Government of Ghana must show commitment from the policy angle to the fund and to the National Peace Council going forward. Government should not be the erratic as with this ‘fund’. We urge government to take lessons and best practice from success stories such as Heritage and Stabilization Funds.
The Peace Council has previously suffered from inadequate resourcing, making it difficult to ensure sustainable peace in the country. This fund will make available to the Council much needed resources to deliver on its mandate.
Section 21 of Act 818 lists the sources of the ‘Peace Fund’ contributions from Government, Local, private, public and international organisations, contributions from foreign government among others. We urge government and other stakeholders as afore mentioned to take interest in contributing to the fund. This must be complimented with judicious use of the funds allocated or donated and transparent and accountable regime to build trust with Ghanaians and advance the cause of peace in Ghana.
Critically, the strategic application of the fund to prevent, manage and resolve conflict and build sustainable peace in Ghana must focus not only on critical domestic issues such as succession attempts, kidnapping and youth unemployment but also violent demonstration, farmer-herder conflicts, illegal mining, land and chieftaincy disputes, violent communication through the mainstream and social media as well as the proliferation of arms.
The NPC must deepen its research on peace and security issues in Ghana to help inform policies and the design of programs especially related to extremism and terrorism to foster and deepen Ghana’s Peace.