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Peace in Africa
Political unrest, ethnic tensions and legacies of colonial exploitation beget chaos and violence in many parts of Africa. Wars, border disputes and ethnic violence cause destruction, divide families and disrupt economies, consequences which create and perpetuate poverty. Fortunately, some nonprofits are partnering with local communities, leaders and intellectuals to work toward conflict resolution, and ultimately, peace in Africa.

About ACCORD

The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) is a nonprofit civil society organization and think tank that specializes in conflict management, analysis and prevention. Vasu Gounden, who believes that innovative solutions to conflict in Africa must come from the minds of African citizens, established it in 1992 in Durban, South Africa. ACCORD works closely with international organizations like the U.N. and the African Union (AU) to facilitate negotiations, train mediators and encourage healthy relationships among African leaders. The organization also conducts extensive research through analysis and experience-sharing events and Pennsylvania University’s prestigious ranking process has ranked it as one of the top 100 think tanks worldwide.

Strategies for Peace

ACCORD’s six pillars for peace illustrate the organization’s strategy for establishing peace in Africa through activism and dialogue. ACCORD recognizes the importance of listening to key stakeholders like women and youth, who peace processes often underrepresent, by working to elevate their roles in mediation and post-conflict reconstruction. The organization also works with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to develop peacebuilding strategies like mediation training, dialogue frameworks and reconciliation strategies. The regional dimensions of most security challenges in Africa (border disputes, multinational ethnic group tensions, ideological extremism and cross-border displacement) put RECs in a unique position to prevent and troubleshoot conflicts. This relationship is at the forefront of ACCORD’s strategy; the first pillar for peace is “to reinforce the institutional capacity of the AU and RECs to prevent and peacefully resolve conflicts.”

Troubleshooting, Brainstorming and Problem Solving

ACCORD regularly organizes and hosts high-level retreats and roundtable events with the AU, U.N., RECs and civil society organizations (CSOs) to address such issues as civil wars, sexual and gender-based violence and socio-economic impediments to peace and development. These roundtables build networks linking African peace workers and mediators across the continent. Scholars agree that CSOs link social, geographic and economic groups in society and play a critical role in providing domestic oversight and upholding institutions. ACCORD’s retreats and workshops, like its Lessons Learned from Inclusive National Peacebuilding Processes workshop, connect CSOs in order to foment peace in Africa. Discussions at roundtable events troubleshoot peacekeeping mechanisms like early warning systems (which analyze and predict conflict) and encourage peer-to-peer collaboration on women’s rights, mediation strategy, education, economic development and other issues.

ACCORD has also been working to combat the sexual violence that often accompanies conflict. In February 2019, the organization participated in a Training of Trainers course to inform African peacekeeping institutions about how to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations. In light of a recent scandal wherein, more than 43 U.N. peacekeepers received accusations of sexual exploitation or abuse, training like this is crucial in preventing future incidences of sexual violence.

Training and Mediating

ACCORD has intervened in 34 countries across Africa, employing peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategies to mediate and contain conflict, developing capacities for peace. The organization has been running a peace program in Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the world, since 1995. Throughout the Burundi civil war, ACCORD trained community leaders, civil society, political actors and other key stakeholders in conflict prevention, management and transformation.

Additionally, ACCORD has launched a peace initiative in the Central African Republic (CAR), and in November 2018, hosted a dialogue for members of the CAR’s negotiating team. Themes during the dialogue included negotiation techniques, classical and nonverbal communication, the concept of strategic compromise and ways of dealing with armed groups.

Peace and Poverty Relief

Conflict monitoring, analysis, prevention and resolution are integral in establishing foundations for peace in Africa. Many recognize the connection between conflict and poverty, and how it can be detrimental to communities. Only when conflict-ridden communities establish peace, economic prosperity and collective well-being can become reality. ACCORD works with community leaders, civil society organizations, individuals and other stakeholders across Africa to establish foundations for peace and conflict management.

– Nicollet Laframboise
Photo: Flickr

South_SudanThe Republic of South Sudan is the newest country in the world, founded in 2011 following a secession from Sudan. The secession resulted from years of bloody civil war in Sudan. However, as recently as 2013, there was a new wave of conflict in South Sudan, with more than two million people displaced from their homes in the past two years. With this conflict, people are unable to maintain agriculture or other jobs, and food prices are rising. The poverty as a result of this conflict is leaving people malnourished and without access to food or clean water. Thankfully, some organizations are coming up with initiatives to improve the lives of the South Sudanese.

Organizations and governments initiated different forms of help for the situation in South Sudan. Some of the main strategies have been promoting peace, increasing access to food and sanitation, and encouraging foreign investment.

Oxfam America, a nonprofit organization aiming to “fix the injustice of poverty,” has initiatives to combat multiple issues caused by poverty and conflict: improve access to clean water, food and sanitation, and promote peace. Some of the response includes rebuilding wells and sanitation facilities for hospitals. In order to further people’s self-sustainability, Oxfam also gives materials to help communities get food, such as seeds and fishing equipment. For Oxfam, initiatives to fix issues caused by poverty is the focus, while for others, the encouragement of international investment is the way to help South Sudan.

South Sudan has mineral deposits and oil reserves. The South Sudanese government is encouraging foreign investors to invest in this sector of the economy. They formed the Investment Protection Act of South Sudan in 2011 to protect the land and intellectual property rights of national and foreign investors.

The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, or ACCORD, is a South African organization aiming to relieve conflict in Africa. ACCORD has a South Sudan Initiative, or SSI, which focuses on building and maintaining peace between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as among the South Sudanese citizens. Some of the conflict identification and resolution efforts include “coordinating the efforts to develop a standardized conflict management training toolkit,” and “providing conflict management, mediation, and negotiation trainings for South Sudanese, officials, diplomats” and “United Nations Mission in South Sudan civil affairs officers.”

Some see bolstering the economy as the solution that will better the lives of those in South Sudan, some view access to sanitation and food as the place to start, and some believe peacebuilding techniques will help end the conflict and give way to a healthier, more efficient society. While separately, these initiatives may not combat every issue that exists within the complicated and historical conflict in South Sudan, with all of these initiatives acting simultaneously, a better future for the South Sudanese seems possible.

Rachelle Kredentser

Sources: Accord 1, Accord 2, About, Oxfam America, Oxfam America 2, Goss-Online
Photo: Flickr