1. Capacity-Building Workshop on Conflict Management, Juba, South Sudan (March/April 2015)

Capacity-Building Workshop on Conflict Management for Human Rights and Peacebuilding Non-Governmental Organisations in South Sudan
30 March to 2 April 2015

Introduction

The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, held a four-day training workshop on conflict management, reconciliation, negotiation, and mediation skills for local human rights and peacebuilding non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in South Sudan. The workshop was held at Juba Regency Hotel, Juba, in South Sudan, from 29 March to 2 April 2015. It brought together 24 participants (13 women and 11 men) from local peacebuilding and human rights NGOs from the South Sudanese states of Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Warrap, and Jonglei. The central objective of the training was to build the conflict prevention and management capacities of participants, and provide a platform for knowledge-sharing between participating organisations.

Workshop Objectives

The March/April 2015 Juba workshop had the following four key objectives:

  • First, to build and strengthen the knowledge and understanding of participants of the concepts of peace, conflict, human rights, and conflict management, and to build their peacebuilding, mediation, and reconciliation skills in order to enhance their capacity to implement their mandates;
  • Second, to explore the specific challenges that participating institutions and civil society actors currently face in building peaceful communities in their respective contexts and in their work more generally, with a view to sharing solutions to particular human rights challenges and providing technical conflict resolution assistance (including reconciliation, mediation, and dialogue);
  • Third, to enhance the conflict resolution and mediation skills of all participants, equipping them with skills and knowledge to enable them to manage conflicts in South Sudan effectively and efficiently; and
  • Fourth, to incorporate a gender lens into conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and human rights work, and to explore the practical application of this lens for the day-to-day work of all participating organisations and groups.

Thematic Areas Covered During the Workshop

The following two thematic areas were covered during the training workshop:

1. Enhancing Understanding of Concepts of Conflict and Peace, Conflict Resolution, Reconciliation, and Mediation
Following the civil war that broke out in December 2013 in South Sudan, which has led to widespread internal displacement and set back the country’s social and economic development efforts, the Centre’s March/April 2015 training workshop provided conflict management and resolution skills, including carefully facilitated discussions on issues of ethnicity, that aimed to promote cohesion between diverse ethnic groups. The workshop enhanced participants’ understanding of the concepts of conflict and peace, and provided training in conflict resolution, reconciliation, and mediation skills. This enabled participants to recognise and understand the underlying causes of the conflicts their work requires them to address, and equipped them with the capacity and skills to play a role in managing conflicts that arise within their institutions, communities, and country. To this end, the workshop enhanced participants’ understanding of mediation and conflict resolution strategies and processes.

2. Challenges and Opportunities Facing Local Human Rights NGOs in Building a Peaceful South Sudan

Human rights non-governmental organisations are often confronted with conflict in their efforts to promote and protect human rights, and to address human rights violations. Recognising this, the Juba workshop in March/April 2015 explored the relationship between human rights, conflict management, and peacebuilding in the context of South Sudan. Many human rights issues are viewed as contentious and, as such, can easily give rise to further conflict, especially in fragile societies that have experienced significant violence, such as South Sudan. Advocating the rights of marginalised or disenfranchised groups can threaten the status quo and challenge entrenched notions of superiority or inferiority, as well as traditional power relations. Strategies for undertaking the protection of contentious rights, while simultaneously avoiding the exacerbation of current conflicts and the creation of new conflicts, were addressed in the workshop. The meeting emphasised the key role that respect for human rights plays in conflict prevention; the need to develop non-adversarial approaches to the protection of human rights by using conflict management skills and techniques; and the use of such approaches to prevent the occurrence of massive human rights abuses during violent conflicts.

Methodology

The training was conducted in English using an interactive and participatory approach and facilitator-led presentations, plenary and panel discussions, participant debriefing sessions, group discussions, and role plays, providing participants with an opportunity to contextualise key issues that were discussed. The workshop sought to foster a theoretical and practical understanding of conflict resolution, mediation, and negotiation in the context of South Sudan, and also provided participants with training materials tailored to their specific needs.

Outcomes

Participants appreciated the relevance and timeliness of the workshop, as well as the knowledge and skills provided. They noted the importance of convening diverse organisations from different regions of the country to share and learn from one another.

  • Ms Rose Achiendhel Kacthiek, Gender Officer at South Sudan for Peace and Development, noted: “Thanks to CCR for providing such an opportunity. I will work hand in hand with South Sudan Women Lawyers Association and other NGOs I interacted with at the workshop.”
  • Ms Natalina Mina Andrea Mabo, Coordinator of the Justice and Peace Commission, Catholic Diocese of Wau, South Sudan, noted: “Being [that this was my] first time to attend such a workshop, it was [a] great opportunity to get knowledge and skills in conflict management and human rights [and] I am committed to using it in my peacebuilding work.”
  • Esther Keji Norberto, Community Mobiliser at Nuer Peace Council, South Sudan, noted that the workshop was useful and provided her with deep insights into human rights and conflict management: “this workshop enlightened me more clearly on understanding the difference between human rights and conflict”. As this was the first time she attended such training, she further noted that the workshop equipped her with knowledge and skills in mediation and reconciliation.
  • Ms Anzoyo Josephine Simon, Project Officer at SOS Sahel, South Sudan, noted that “before the workshop I didn’t know the relationship between conflict management and human rights. So I have come to learn that for us to realise sustainable peace, CSOs [civil society organisations] should ensure [that] human rights issues … move together with conflict management. This was a timely, relevant and very useful training in our current situation in South Sudan. Thanks to CCR for such opportunity to give us rich knowledge and skills”.

Observations

It was noted at the workshop that some organisations are intimidated and threatened by the government, especially when they engage in governance and human rights issues. This has resulted in some of the actors being arrested and detained. Coupled to this is the challenge of insecurity and civil war in some parts of the country, such as Unity and Upper Nile states, which has made it difficult for them to implement activities; some organisations have even had to close their field offices.

Participants noted that inadequate funding is the most challenging factor in the implementation of their work. They noted that, in their attempts to address this inadequacy, they have approached various donors and identified relevant government institutions and educated them about the importance of easing regulations for advocacy engagements. Participants also noted that they have established networks and partnerships to leverage their resources and capacities.

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Participants at CCR’s capacity-building workshop on conflict management for human rights and peacebuilding non-governmental organisations in South Sudan, 30 March to 2 April 2015

Workshop photo gallery

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