10. Capacity-building training workshops for government authorities, community leaders, and civil society actors on conflict management, human rights, and gender in Bor, Lobonok, and Magwi in South Sudan

Capacity-building training workshops for government authorities, community leaders, and civil society actors on conflict management, human rights, and gender in Bor, Lobonok, and Magwi in South Sudan

 

Introduction

The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, held two one-day stakeholder meetings in Bor, Jonglei State on 24 September 2018, and one in Magwi, Torit State on 19 November 2018. The meetings were to launch and plan for the project, “Generating Sustainable Livelihoods and Leadership for Peace in South Sudan”, in these local communities. CCR is implementing this project – funded by the Dutch government’s Addressing Root Causes (ARC) Fund – in a tripartite consortium including the Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) and DanChurchAid (DCA). The project is being implemented in five states in South Sudan: Torit, Kapoeta, Jonglei, Jubek, and Terekeka. The meetings sought to inform local stakeholders about the project; to generate interest in the project; to provide an opportunity for them to interact with each other; and to strengthen their relationships. Towards these ends, the one-day meeting in Magwi brought together 26 people while the Bor meeting was attended by 32 people, who included political leaders, local government officers, traditional and religious leaders, and key civil society actors in the two communities.

The project launches were followed by four four-day capacity-building and training workshop on conflict management, human rights, and gender in Bor 25-28 September, Lobonok from 1-4 October and two in Magwi from 20 to 23 and 26 to 29 November 2018. The four workshops were attended by 110 participants. Participants included the Payam Administrators, traditional and religious leaders, women leaders, youth representatives, national security personnel, and representatives of key non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based groups in these communities. The overarching aims of the workshops were two-fold: to build the conflict prevention and management capacities of the participants and to provide a platform for knowledge-sharing and networking among them.

Workshop Objectives

The workshops had the following four specific objectives:

  1. To build and strengthen participants’ knowledge and understanding of the concepts of peace, human rights, and conflict management.
  2. To enhance the conflict resolution and mediation skills of all participants, thereby enabling them to manage conflicts in their respective communities peacefully and effectively.
  3. To explore the specific challenges that the participating actors experience in building peaceful communities in their respective contexts, with a view to sharing solutions to these challenges and providing technical, conflict resolution assistance (including negotiation, mediation, and dialogue).
  4. 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 participants.

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, Dialogue, 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 training interventions provided conflict management and resolution skills, including carefully facilitated discussions on issues of ethnicity, which aimed to promote cohesion between diverse ethnic groups. The workshops enhanced participants’ understanding of the concepts of conflict and peace, and provided training in conflict resolution, dialogue, 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.

  1. The role of local governance structures in peacebuilding processes

One of the scarcest commodities in violent conflict is legitimate and effective representation of all actors in  peace processes. The question “who has the right to represent whom?” is always contentious and is especially difficult when violence features a proliferation of armed groups and high levels of social and political fragmentation, and when it goes beyond conventional notions of war to include communal, socio-economic set up, and criminal violence. Local leadership is not a panacea for conflict. Where local governance systems are not trusted and or looked at as political instruments must not be idealised. Local government system provides a good structure through which community leaders can procure peaceful resolution of conflict in the context of South Sudan. However, they face some challenges, including many guns in the hands of youth and thus cannot contribute effectively to the peacebuilding process. The workshops discussed and considered the role of local government and civil society in advancing peace and stability in the community, and addressed, with emphasis, the opportunities for, and challenges to, enhancing women's and youth’s participation in peacebuilding initiatives at all levels of society.

  1. Linking human rights, conflict management, and peacebuilding

The workshops explored the relationship between the promotion of human rights, conflict management practices, and peacebuilding processes in South Sudan. The workshops 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 and reconciliatory skills and techniques; and the use of such approaches to prevent massive human rights violations occurring during violent conflicts and in post-conflict settings. The workshops further highlighted that much as authorities have the mandate to plan and work for the population, there is a strong need for an all-inclusive process by ensuring that all people participate and their voices are heard.

Training Methodology

The training was conducted in three languages – Acholi, Juba-Arabic and English – using an interactive, participatory approach and facilitator-led presentations. Plenary and panel discussions, participant debriefing sessions, group discussions, and role plays were utilised 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 dialogue in the context of South Sudan, and also provided participants with training materials, including two training manuals on Conflict Management and Basic Mediation, as well as reading materials tailored to their specific needs.

Outcomes

Immediately after the training workshops, participants noted that their knowledge and skills had improved as a result of CCR’s training workshops, which sought to build and strengthen participants’ knowledge and understanding of conflict management within their local and national context. Increased knowledge and skills of participants in conflict management techniques was most evident in the areas of mediation and dialogue; the role of women in peacebuilding; as well as the ability to link human rights to conflict management issues. Target groups also reported a general understanding of the way in which conflict affects women more than men, as well as the need for the effective participation of women within their local and national institutions and decision-making structures.

Notable examples of participants whose skills and knowledge have been enhanced in the process of strengthening inter-and intra- community dialogues include:

  • Ms Ayenyo Hellen Otto, Gender-Based Violent Case Worker at Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Magwi office, reported that “before the workshop, I didn’t know the relationship between conflict management and human rights, this has been made clear. This training was timely, relevant and very useful in our current situation in South Sudan. Thanks to CCR for such an opportunity to give us rich knowledge and skills”.
  • Mr. Severino Soka Yuggu, Wurduk peace committee member in Lobonok County noted “CCR’s conflict management capacity-building workshop in October 2018 in Magwi was of great importance to me and to my colleagues from Lobonok … because we have learned for the first time about conflict management and human rights as they relate to our mandates as community leaders. The knowledge gained … will enable us to manage the tensions in our community and country … by paying great attention to human rights and conflict management issues.”
  • Mr Nelson Wani Okello Okumu, Radio Presenter (Voice of Freedom – Magwi) and Youth leader, who attended a CCR capacity-building training workshop in Magwi in November 2018, reported that the workshop had broadened his knowledge and skills in human rights and conflict management, noting: “It gave me a clear picture of what mediation means and therefore enriched my understanding about conflict management … especially on the aspect of retributive and restorative justice, and how human rights issues are related to conflict issues in [the context of] South Sudan.”
  • Victoria Achok, Youth Leader, Bor County, reported that due to the training in Bor, she is now able to make the connections between human rights, human needs, and conflict. This has enabled her to identify one of the causes of conflicts in Bor community as the deprivation of basic human needs.
  • Garang Kuei Guguei, from Bor Community Youth Association, noted that the workshop had broadened his knowledge and skills in human rights and conflict management. He further reported that his knowledge of mediation became clear and enhanced and that he is committed to institutionalising the skills through instilling them into his association thereby contributing to greater impact within youth in Bor community.
  • Mary Awal Makwach, from Bor County Women Association noted that a CCR capacity-building workshop in Bor helped her to improve her conflict management skills and knowledge by learning from community leaders from other communities and institutions. She further expressed her commitment and motivation to apply techniques such as mediation, dialogue, and negotiation in her peacebuilding work, to promote gender equality within their institutions.

Participants of Bor Workshop

Participants of Bor Workshop, 25-28 September 2018.

 CCR staff facilitating

CCR staff facilitating a training workshop in Magwi County, Torit State, in November 2018

 

 Participants of Lobonok

Participants of Lobonok Workshop, 1-4 October 2018.

Magwi Project Launch

Magwi project launch on 19 November 2018

Magwi Country Commissioner

Magwi County Commissioner, Mr Ochola Bosco, giving his opening remarks

at the project launch in Magwi on 19 November 2018.

© 2018 Centre for Conflict Resolution 

Centre for Conflict Resolution, Coornhoop, 2 Dixton Road, Observatory 7925, Cape Town, South Africa

 Tel: +27 (0)21 689 1005 | Fax: +27 (0)21 689 1003