Campaign Against Autonomous Weapons in Mozambique
NARRATIVE REPORT OF CULTURAL YOUTH MOVEMENT OF NIGERIA AND MAPUTO YOUTH FOR PEACE’ POLITICAL ENGAGEMENTS TOWARDS BAN ON USE OF AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS IN MOZAMBIQUE
The arising threat of the use of fully autonomous weapons in the world has been disturbing with humans afraid of being out wiped out of the world by destructive elements which act beyond meaningful human control and lack ethical judgment and consideration. They can be programmed in tiniest objects and sent to destroy any given mass and overall. The world now moves towards banning the production and use of the weapon systems through an international treaty. While some nations have been fully committed to the treaty, many yet to and a whole lot unaware of the situation.
There’s therefore the need to bring the unaware to knowledge and the yet-to-join the movement on board. One of such who belong to the former was Mozambique which attracted the interest of the just-concluded project. To this end, the Cultural Youth Initiative Movement of Nigeria together with Maputo Youth for Peace held some political advocacy engagements in Mozambique. These included meetings with high- level senior state officials at the request of his excellency, President Filipe Nsuyi, the Catholic Archbishop of Maputo, officials of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, journalists, political parties, media parley and civil society engagements.
Meeting with Ministry of Home Affairs
In continuation of seeking political leadership by encouraging African states to commit to launching negotiations of an international treaty which seeks to outlaw fully autonomous weapons which operate beyond meaningful human control, prevent digital dehumanization, including building confidence in countries across Africa underscoring the urgency of an international treaty which is also possible to achieve in partnership with diverse actors led by the Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of organizations in over 60 countries all over the world; and knowing fully well the role that Mozambique has played on disarmament issues on the international level in the past, our delegation met with the Permanent Secretary, His Excellency Mr. Oliver Muscanbo together with the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hissanti Gagamce and other key officials of the ministry.
We were informed by their team that they had been dispatched by the president to hear us first hand on our demands. They also conveyed the overwhelming willingness of the government to ensure that Mozambique remains a killer-robot free state and ensure active participation at all the processes leading to its ban and acknowledged that limited information about the dangers of the use of the weapons are available in Mozambique but pledged that government will use its diplomatic instrument at the multilateral level to be part of the conversation. They also sought our willingness to engage civil society organizations in Mozambique in ensuring good knowledge transfer.
Meeting with Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Our delegation met with the first Secretary in the minister’s office who reconfirmed with us that even though the issue of autonomous weapons, killer robots and weapons in general lie with the Ministry of Interior but because of their roles as Mozambique image maker, they will put on notice, their disarmament desk in Geneva and their Mission in New York to ensure Mozambique’s full participation in all multilateral discussions related to autonomous weapons, working closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Frelimo, a socialist political party with the majority of seats in the House of Assembly of the Republic of Mozambique was addressed during the project. The project period coincided with the nation’s 47th Independence, 25th July and that was apt, with the stakeholders of the party being available to engage. Specifically, our delegation was met by the director of civil society engagement of the party, Mr. Makunba Kkaro who shared the disarmament policy position of the party which fortunately align with the vision and objectives to stop killer robots
As a political party, they are open to sustain pressure on all their representatives in government to ensure that Mozambique’s long history of being a nuclear- free state is sustained. Thereafter, our delegation was invited to join the 60th anniversary of the party which coincided with the 47th independence of the Republic of Mozambique.
Renamo is the major and biggest opposition party in Mozambique. Our team was received by the vice chairman of the party, Mr Matavel Spinnoo who conveyed the appreciation of the party on our visit, including our mission in ensuring that Mozambique remains a free state, particularly to make sure that their MPs are briefed so that whenever these issues are brought forward in the parliament, they can enjoy overwhelming support. They also requested the involvement of the party in future advocacy initiatives so as to guarantee Mozambique’s sustained commitment as an autonomous weapon-free nation.
This is the second major opposition party. Our delegation was received by the president of the party and the general secretary of the party. After sharing our message, the party requested support for capacity building for their members in parliament for more technical knowledge on the subject and pledged their support to the campaign.
The Catholic Church is the largest religious organization in Mozambique, which controls over 70% of the nation’s population. There can be successful advocacy without the engagement of the catholic church. Hence our visit to the Archbishop of Maputo who was represented by the Dean of Bishops, His Lordship, Bishop Kosonawa Gerego who shared the intentions of the development arm of the catholic church to become a member of the Killer Robots Campaign which align with the objectives of the justice and peace development organizations owned by the catholic church in Mozambique. He also invited our organization to address its annual general assembly in November on the issue of autonomous weapons.
The Christian Council of Mozambique
The Christian Council of Mozambique is the umbrella organization bringing all the protestant churches in Mozambique together. Our team met with the Programme Officer, Rev. Zelda Cossa who shared the willingness of the churches in Mozambique to be part of the campaign. They also advised that to sustain the pressure, we should urgently convene a national stakeholders’ forum that will bring together all the parties and actors in Mozambique on the way to ensuring speedy involvement at the UN level.
A successful online parley representing 4 media organizations was held via zoom where we shared our mission including underscoring the important role of the media in Mozambique in highlighting the relevance of the campaign and they also pledged their commitment to being part of the process.
The parley was fully represented by Zambese newspaper, Radio Mocambique, Savannah Prints, Pana Press which are popular and reliable news and information sources in the Republic of Mozambique.
Virtual meeting with CSOs
The meeting was originally designed to hold physically but due to some technical control, it was held virtually where 10 members of different civil society organizations were present. First, they shared their frustration on their limited capacity and opportunity to be part of regional and global conversations because of limited information, and including many civil society organizations not working around disarmament subjects, so they sought capacity building opportunities for them to be able to engage on the subject and ensuring that their government is more pressurized to act as a matter of urgency. They also requested that a national consultation be held bringing together, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Political parties, religious organizations together under one umbrella in order to ensure sustaining commitments on the part of the government while ensuring civil societies’ active participation in the process.
It was evident from our engagement that Mozambique is now fully on board. There’s also need to convey a national consultation bringing together all actors in Mozambique in order to ensure the institutionalization of this new-found momentum of active engagements of relevant actors which will lead to Mozambique showcasing strong leadership at the national and multilateral levels.
We strongly believe there is nothing more beautiful than going out of our way to make life beautiful for others. We have carried out a vast number of life-changing projects to prove our dedication to this cause.