Below is the speech held by the Ambassador Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury at the dinner reception of the dialogue event 'The New Geopolitics of Peace Operations II: A Dialogue with West Africa', organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in Abuja 16 September 2015:
Dear Dr Treydte, Ambassadors, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful for the opportunity to address this very distinguished group.
Over the years, Finland has been supporting SIPRI's research project on 'The New Geopolitics of Peace Operations : A Dialogue with Emerging Powers'. We are also planning on supporting its follow-up that focuses specifically on Africa. In that context, I have been invited to say a few words. I thank Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and Stockholm International Peace Research Institute for the opportunity.
It has been a privilege for us to be part of SIPRI's important work. Clearly, our support reflects the weight that my country places on peace-keeping, conflict resolution, and comprehensive crisis management. We are also very pleased with the possibility to participate in this symposium – organized by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung that now brings the work to West Africa.
One central conclusion of researchers, in fact, seems to be that the future of peace-keeping operations is in Africa. Already, there are several regional structures in place that could be built on – in the context of the AU, for instance, as well as of course the ECOWAS.
It is so important to have events like this one, just about to commence here in Abuja. There is a need to enhance understanding about the future of African peace and security landscape. African perspectives need to be shared at regional and international levels.
I believe that this meeting will go a long way in stimulating dialogue within the region, and on the continent, by engaging experts, opinion leaders and other stakeholders. I believe also that it will be able to identify many possible ways for future collaboration, in peace-keeping and conflict resolution.
Finally, I could not end without mentioning 1325 – the United Nations Security Council Resolution on Women, Peace and Security. Ensuring adequate representation of women in security and justice is essential. Women have a central role in contributing to crisis management and peace-keeping, and in building and re-building societies. Involving women simply means using the full potential of a society.
I also would like to take the opportunity, for my part, to welcome all the international participants to Nigeria. I have been in this country for one year now, and could not have missed the critical importance and incredible potential that Nigeria holds in so many aspects – incl. in the areas that are going to be discussed in this dialogue event.
I wish you very good discussions, with lots of fruitful brainstorming and interaction.