Governor’s Forum in Western Bahr el Ghazal discusses building an inclusive peace

unmiss governor's forum unity government women youth wau

A three-day Governor's Forum, supported by UNMISS and Community Empowerment for Peace Organization (CEPO), focused on creating an inclusive Action Plan for building peace that reflects community concerns as well as functions as a roadmap for much-needed services. Photo by Dawit K. Tedla/UNMISS

1 Nov 2021

Governor’s Forum in Western Bahr el Ghazal discusses building an inclusive peace

Dawit K. Tedla

With the signing of a peace deal in 2018, new hope was born in conflict-ridden South Sudan.

However, much remains to be done to increase momentum in ongoing peace processes.

To this end, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), together with Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) recently supported a Governor’s Forum for state authorities in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

The three-day gathering brought together all stakeholders to assess drivers of conflict and threats to civilians; prioritize service delivery for citizens and map a statewide Action Plan to usher in peace and progress.

“Representatives from all political parties, civil society, women, youth delegates and traditional leaders all came together to share their experiences, explore synergies and pave a collaborative way forward where we put people’s needs first and work as one team,” stated Sara Cleto Rial, the state governor.

Political unity, final security arrangements, good governance, equal access to justice, upholding the rule of law and achieving important benchmarks in implementing the Revitalized Peace Agreement were key areas of discussions.

Another important topic: The role of young people in peacebuilding and development.

“Youth are the workforce of the country. A strong economy hinges upon our skills; but we are not given a chance to participate and to voice our concerns,” said David Lawrence Ambrose, Chair of the state’s Youth Union. “Our leaders must consider the issues faced by young people such as widespread unemployment, build our capacities so that we can contribute to the workforce and include our concerns in the state’s Action Plan,” he added.

Full and equal participation of women in decision-making, governance and promoting women’s literacy was another important agenda point.

“Even though the state governor is a woman, overall, there continues to be a vacuum when it comes to women in leadership. For true peace to prevail, we must focus on gender equality and empowering our women,” averred Khamisa William Kornelio, one of 15 women’s representatives attending the forum.

For his part, Mustapha Tejan-Kella, Acting Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Wau, urged the state government to work together to provide much-needed services to citizens and use a consolidated, comprehensive and inclusive approach to develop the state’s Action Plan so that no one is left behind.

The state’s Action Plan will be presented at the national-level Governor’s Forum that will take place in the country’s capital Juba in the days ahead. It will feed into a national strategy document for peace and development.