Forum to enhance understanding of the Revitalized Peace Agreement witnesses encouraging response in Kuajok
Building local capacities and infusing fresh momentum into ongoing peace processes are key goals for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as the world’s newest nation slowly begins its recovery from devastating civil wars as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of this commitment, the UN Peacekeeping mission recently facilitated a three-day stakeholder forum in Kuajok to galvanize interest in and ownership of the Revitalized Peace Agreement among community members.
More than 80 participants, including women’s representatives, members of youth groups, community elders and leaders plus officials from the state- and county-level attended the event, which saw spirited discussions on shaping a better, more peaceful future going forward.
An important topic: The dearth of women leaders and politicians in decision-making positions across Warrap state. “The Peace Agreement signed by our leaders contains within it a vital provision that accords 35 per cent representation of women in key positions within governance systems,” explains Edmund Yakani of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), a facilitator of the workshop. “If properly implemented across all states, this could be the breakthrough in building sustainable peace across Warrap.”
For women’s representative Monica Ayen Mawien, Mr. Yakani’s statement is a revelation on many counts. “I have recently discovered that Warrap has only around 1 per cent of women in leadership roles within our state’s government,” she said. “Women are naturally peacebuilders and we need to make sure we are included at every level, that our voices are heard and understood when it comes to issues that impact us directly. After all, we constitute 50 per cent of society,” she declares passionately.
Another revelation for Monica is the fact that international organisations, including, UNMISS are using their funds to build capacities among local interlocuters. “For me, this is very important because it means that we as civil society can avail of these options to improve our skills and contribute towards helping our government build a sustainable peace,” she comments. “Civil society and governance institutions go hand-in-hand when it comes to nation building.”
County Commissioners also weighed in with their experiences.
“In our role as commissioners, we are the interface between the state government and the people we serve,” says Marko Agor Malang, County Commissioner,Twic. “We have firsthand knowledge of the challenges faced by communities and also programmes at both state and national levels that are geared to ameliorate these difficulties. When conflict breaks out, we are the first ones on the ground trying to find solutions and reduce the impact on innocent civilians. This workshop has helped all of us contextualize our roles and responsibilities in a future-focused manner, in line with the provisions contained within the Revitalized Agreement,” he adds.
Furthermore, Mr. Malang vowed to trickle down his learning on the Peace Agreement to all community members in his county and urged other commissioners to do the same. “I commit, on behalf of all county commissioners, that we will do our best to implement the Peace Agreement at our levels and I hope our efforts will bear fruit in the form of less conflict and more development for our people.”
The positive atmosphere of this three-day forum was, perhaps, summarized best by Marko Mayik, a community representative. “We are going to take the knowledge of the Revitalized Peace Agreement home with us and spread it among our families, our neighbourhoods and our communities so that every individual can invest in it.”
This awareness-raising session was facilitated by the Civil Affairs Division of UNMISS, under the auspices of the United Nations Multi-Partner Fund.