Conflicting communities agree to reconcile via traditional court at an UNMISS workshop

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In Bor, an UNMISS-led workshop seeks to reconcile feuding communities from Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area. Photos by Angellah Mandoreba/UNMISS.

7 Dec 2023

Conflicting communities agree to reconcile via traditional court at an UNMISS workshop

Angellah Mandoreba

JONGLEI/GPAA – Recurrent intercommunal conflicts have marred relationships between communities in South Sudan’s Jonglei state and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA).

These conflicts, that have led to loss of lives, destruction of property, and displacement, are frequently triggered by cattle raids, revenge attacks and child abductions.

To counter this, the two neighbouring communities signed the Pieri Action for Peace, a roadmap for feuding parties to break seemingly continuous cycles of violence, in 2021.

Two years later, this document continues to remain instrumental in slowly but surely building a lasting peace in this violence-affected part of this young nation.

In this regard, a consultative workshop organized by the United Nation Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) recently concluded in Bor, where 50 citizens belonging to different communities, including 16 women, exchanged views on possible jurisdiction, composition, and deployment of a traditional leaders’ circuit court—one of the key recommendations of the 2021 local peace treaty.

Following the discussions, participants agreed that a joint traditional circuit court is necessary to usher peaceful coexistence between the people of Jonglei and the GPAA.

“The establishment of this special court can enhance access to justice and reach areas bordering Jonglei and GPAA, inaccessible by formal justice actors,” explained Jonglei High Court President, Justice John Yel Aleu.

The court is expected to hear, mediate, and resolve communal disputes between the two regions.

“The court is long overdue. Women and children are the most vulnerable in these fights where they get abducted constantly. Today’s dialogue is a relief because now perpetuators will be held accountable. For this, I am so grateful,” averred Akol Ajok, a women’s leader in Bor.

Daniel Atem Aketh, Twic East Acting Paramount Chief, highly appreciated the initiative.

“If communities truthfully embrace this plan, reconciliation becomes certain and people shall be able to live in harmony,” he stated.

Youth representatives, for their part, emphasized their need to be represented in this body.

“Youth are part of society and often get involved in violence. Inclusion in the current process will help alleviate their concerns and ensure they are part of the solution,” revealed Thon Chol Chan, a youth representative in Duk county.

In conclusion, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Bor, Geetha Pious, stressed that upholding the rule of law and ensuring access to justice is necessary to permanently end intercommunal violence.

This event was implemented in collaboration with various partners from the UN Multi Partner Trust Fund, and is expected to be replicated across GPAA and Akobo.