UNMISS facilitates dialogue with peace committee in Yei to enhance local reconciliation efforts

unmiss south sudan central equatoria state yei river county peace committee dialogue reconciliation human rights

Dialogue is a great tool to come up with guidelines, roles and responsibilities of members of a peace committee like the one in Yei River County. Photo: James Sokiri/UNMISS

6 Sep 2023

UNMISS facilitates dialogue with peace committee in Yei to enhance local reconciliation efforts

James Sokiri

CENTRAL EQUATORIA - Local leaders of Yei River County have just concluded a two-day dialogue aimed at developing guidelines to govern the scope of work of its peace committee to enhance the prospect of sustainable reconciliation and cooperation for development in the area.

“The committee is responsible for devising early warning mechanisms; organize peace and reconciliation forums to mediate conflicts between clans, and families; as well as help resolve local land disputes between returnees and host communities,” read three of the resolutions resulting from the collective brainstorming.

“Local leaders play a critical role is defusing disputes by engaging peace partners at the grassroots level, settling matters of domestic violence and implementing a system of governance that is accountable to its citizens,” said James Mugo Muriithi, a Civil Affairs Officer serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Joseph Brown Lomose, Paramount Chief in Yei River County and chairing the peace committee, couldn’t agree more.

“As chiefs, we are impartial. We work tooth and nail to build peace with everyone; we are all brothers and sisters, whether we are part of the government or not. By doing so, we can build trust and confidence in the population and encourage refugees and internally displaced persons to return home,” he said.

Discussions at the dialogue forum also yielded declarations on what the roles of chiefs, women and youth should be in identifying, mitigating and resolving potential conflicts, as well as what these different stakeholders can do to build peace, not least by conducting activities aimed at strengthening social cohesion.

Without full compliance with and respect for human rights, however, efforts to foster reconciliation and harmonious co-existence between communities may come to naught.

“That is another key task of both community leaders and armed actors, to oversee that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled,” said Arthur Beingana, a Human Rights Officer serving with UNMISS.

Participants at the forum included chiefs and representatives of both youth and women, drawn from across the entire Yei River County. The county’s peace committee was established in 2021.