UNMISS conducts workshop to strengthen civil society participation in peace, democracy in Unity and Ruweng

unmiss unity ruweng south sudan peace democracy elections civil society un united nations peacekeepers peacekeeping

As South Sudan gears up for its first post-independence elections, UNMISS holds two workshops in Unity and Ruweng Administrative Area respectively to build capacities among civil society actors. Photo by Luk Riek Nyak Bol/UNMISS

15 May 2024

UNMISS conducts workshop to strengthen civil society participation in peace, democracy in Unity and Ruweng

Luk Riek Nyak Bol

UNITY/RUWENG ADMINISTRATIVE AREA- As South Sudan prepares to conduct its first general elections at the end of 2024, it is imperative that citizens are aware of their rights, roles, and responsibilities to participate in this democratic exercise that will hopefully usher in a new era of development and peace.

As part of that process, an UNMISS team comprising of colleagues from the Civil Affairs and Electoral Affairs Divisions, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee recently conducted a two-day workshop to strengthen the capacities of civil society organizations on peace and democracy in Unity State and Ruweng Administrative Area (RAA).

Civil society organizations play a key role in advocating for citizen’s rights, while the government pledges its responsibility to protect and enable their equal participation as of part of the social contract between citizens and the state.

The training was facilitated by Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) to sensitize participants on the role of civil society organizations as a “bridge” between the government and citizens.

The two-day training at both venues was attended by 66 participants, including 17 women, and many of the interactive sessions focused on the development of key skills in advocacy, coalition building, networking, and resource mobilization, in order to support the communities more effectively. Participants said that the training sessions also enhanced their knowledge of legal and policy frameworks and communication strategies, which will help to guide the work and performance of the civil society organizations.   

Feedback from the leadership of civil society networks on the outcome of the workshop was positive.

“This workshop was one of the best that I have attended, and it increased my interest in understanding different functions of government line ministries, departments, and agencies, and the use of legal and policy provisions in advocacy work,” said Thijin Yian, the Chairperson of Unity State Civil Society Network (USCSN).

 Mr. Yian, also highlighted the challenges facing Unity State, including persistent flooding which have created access barriers to different parts of the state. Additionally, he mentioned how civil society organizations play a central role in educating communities through civic education; and enhance engagement with political parties to advocate for civic and political space.

The Chairperson of Ruweng Administrative Area Civil Society Network (CEDO), Santino Ngap Deng also noted that the workshop taught how civil society organizations could collaborate and strengthen their networks to conduct of their activities in the Administrative Area. “Vitally, the workshop clearly highlighted roles of civil society organizations and their responsibilities,” he averred.

Upon the forum’s closing, two participants in Unity State participated in a live talk show on Radio Miraya and shared their views on the role of civil society in the political and electoral processes in Unity state. The radio programme sought to raise awareness among the public on the important role played by civil society organizations to enhance participation of the public in electoral and political processes, to support inclusive, credible, and peaceful elections in South Sudan.

Speaking after the radio programme, participants said they appreciated the opportunity to engage with diverse audiences from different parts of the country, to exchange views and to receive feedback on their activities.