Researcher: Community based reconciliation initiatives crucial for South Sudan

6 Oct 2016

Researcher: Community based reconciliation initiatives crucial for South Sudan

Machrine Birungi

Community based initiatives are needed to kick start the process of truth, justice and reconciliation in South Sudan, a Research Fellow at the University of Peace in The Hague has said.

Dr. Rens Willems, Programme Leader Peace and Conflict Studies, led a two-year research project on Intersections of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation in South Sudan.The research took a holistic approach to understanding violence, and investigated people’s experiences in seeking justice. On Tuesday, a major conference was held in The Hague to discuss the research findings.

Speaking to Miraya Breakfast show, Dr. Rens Willems, said there is an urgent need for truth seeking efforts and dialogue between different groups to pave way for an understanding and an agreed shared narrative.

Dr Rens however noted that the current situation in South Sudan does not guarantee that a truth and reconciliation commission set up within the next few months. He said stakeholders must exploit other alternatives that could help reconcile the communities.

“There are still a lot of opportunities to focus more on bottom up community initiatives, to try and reconcile communities,” said Rens.

He said people must be empowered to take up community initiatives and said he is optimistic that slowly by slowly, communities will be able to embrace the process of truth, Justice and reconciliation.

According to Dr Rens and his team of researchers, civil society organizations in South Sudan should be supported to push the forward the process of reconciliation. He said that concerns have been raised about the tendency by the government to see civil society organizations working on these issues as potential opposition. “There is needed to keep the process of reconciliation and transitional justice moving forward,” he added.

“We shall continue to support more positive change in discussing reconciliation and transitional justice in South Sudan.”