UNMISS supports new peace institutions with development of policies to deliver peace and unity
Achieving peace, unity and stability is high on the agenda in South Sudan and its states across the country. To help succeed in reaching this vital but elusive goal, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan is supporting a newly established ministry to develop a policy document to guide such efforts.
“Tranquility in Central Equatoria State, home to our capital, is key, because we have people from all of the country’s 64 ethnic groups living here,” commented Sarah Nene Redento, Deputy Governor of the state, at a two-day forum organized in Juba, adding an appeal to groups who are yet to sign the revitalized peace agreement to do so.
In the lead of developing a comprehensive policy framework on how to go about spreading messages on peace and unity are the new Ministry of Peacebuilding and the Commission for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation. The peace deal stipulates that these two bodies will coordinate and oversee activities to end intercommunal violence, carry out research and gather facts about conflict-prone areas and offer capacity building to citizens affected.
Zekia Musa, representing people with disabilities in Central Equatoria State, is convinced that the new policy document is an important step forward.
“To the best of my understanding, if we use this document correctly as a tool to move forward towards peaceful coexistence, we will also see a reduction of the number of citizens with special needs,” he said, reiterating that intercommunal violence has been responsible for seriously injuring many people.
Youth, women’s groups, faith-based and civil society organizations were also represented at the policy-producing stakeholders’ forum, as were human rights activists.
“Durable peace is the crucial bedrock for moving everything forward. With it, you can construct roads, have electricity, farm, invest in development, constitute the parliament and work on reforming and improving the judicial system. Without it, none of that is possible,” said Civil Affairs Officer Victor Fasama, representing the UN peacekeeping mission.
Mr. Fasama stressed the need to make comprehensive information about what is happening on the ground easily accessible by means of creating a computerized system where conflict zones in the state are mapped.
“With this in place, you go online to a map of the state, click on a particular location and get immediate and updated information about what challenges that area is currently dealing with, who are the entities responsible for dealing with the situation and what progress is being made,” he said.
Many policy inputs were made at the forum, including the establishment of peace clubs at schools and universities, promoting dialogue between feuding communities, broadcasting peace messages on radio and TV and the training of psychosocial counselors who can help traumatized citizens move on with their lives.
The next step towards finalizing the policy document is to consult with and receive inputs from local communities. A proposed document will then be presented to the state’s legislative assembly for final approval.