A three-day conference supported by UNMISS results in 11 communities reaching peace agreements in Tonj North
WARRAP – “Building peace takes time, commitment and support,” said Piol Buoi, state Minister for Peacebuilding, Warrap. “The United Nations Mission in South Sudan and peace actors have been our constant partners and, therefore, we are making stellar progress across the state.”
Minister Buoi was speaking at the conclusion of a three-day conference in Tonj North where leaders from 11 payams [administrative divisions] signed a resolution agreeing to put an end to intercommunal conflict in the region, which has been ongoing for the past three years.
Moreover, they also agreed to resolve existing disputes through amicable mediation in accordance with existing justice frameworks.
The peace conference, organized in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other stakeholders on the ground, drew more than 500 participants, including traditional leaders, community members, women and youth representatives; it provided them a platform to openly address their concerns and come up with ways to resolve these without having to resort to violence.
Community-based peace actors—Tonj North Peace Initiative Committee and Dotbaai Women Association—were also invited to witness this moment.
"UNMISS and civil society actors have convened countless dialogues and consultations over the last few months, culminating in the convening of this landmark conference today," continued Mr. Buoi. “The state government will establish a committee to monitor the situation on the ground and ensure that communities adhere to the letter and spirit of the agreements signed today. We hope that this peace will endure.”
For their part, local government officials urge residents to recognize the harm caused by incessant conflict on their lives, their capacity to generate income and their children’s future.
"I implore community leaders to put aside their differences and focus on developmental priorities such as hospitals, schools, and road construction," Kuol Akoon, Tonj North's Commissioner, appealed to participants. "The senseless conflict that has raged on in Tonj North has achieved nothing but death and destruction. Our aim should be to move forward and rebuild our lives in harmony,” he added.
Arol Gakdit, Paramount Chief of the Kuanythi community, embraced Commissioner Akoon’s words and stated that he will focus on improving education, access to water, and food security among his community members upon his return. He also expressed hope that humanitarian assistance will continue.
Anastasie Mukangarambe, Head of the UNMISS Field Office in Kuajok, urged all attending communities to use the outcomes of the conference to begin a new chapter of peace and prosperity across Tonj North. “I encourage every individual to embrace their shared identity as South Sudanese and want to use this opportunity to mention how heartened I am by the presence of so many women representatives. Women constitute 50 per cent of society and there cannot be any inclusive or durable peace unless they are fully represented. Their influence on families and the social structure make them critical peace influencers.
The UN Peacekeeping mission will continue to mobilize dialogues and plans to assist the state government in organizing a Greater Tonj conference to foster peaceful coexistence across the entire region.