Unity, Warrap, and Lakes States should make peace and reconciliation a priority in their common borders.

BY: John Malou Manyiel, Nkumba University, Kampala, UGANDA, DEC/28/2012, SSN;

Many forms of violent conflicts hurt development, but civil wars are the most destructive. They also often lead to a situation where the existing state gives up its developmental or welfare role completely. I don’t claim that my proposals necessarily provide the best solutions for all forms of violent conflicts caused by cattle rustlers among others in the above three mentioned states, but it is because such violence are most likely to occur in poor and slowly growing country like South Sudan. And when they do occur they inflict enormous hardship if not controlled. Violent conflicts lead to disinvestment and the destruction of capital and increased reliance on primary commodities and natural resources.

Decades of war, the effects of weapons and sustained conflicts have increased trauma and violence and reduced trust among the neighboring communities. This is a crucial time to promote a process of inclusive decision making at all levels and peace building as a means of moving into reconciliation. Peace and freedom of movement among communities provides a unique opening to stabilize gains made in the democracy movement and to approach the causes of conflict. It provides the impetus to visibly acknowledge and address thorny problem of cattle rustlings, poverty and underdevelopment to provide people at the local level with assurances that change is afoot.

I think peace is less a solution than a result. I mean if these mentioned three states manage to make peace reign in their borders, it is because at first they have erased the thorny problems. People are happy when there is no problem anymore, so they are not angry. They don’t need to go on criticizing when everything is OK. In a word, we have to resolve main problems to be able to develop in the best way and to get peace.

In order to improve the future human relations in all walks of life among communities in these three states, the young generation has to play a pivotal role and avoid unacceptable acts of attacking individuals and communities in form of revenge which has just happened recently between Unity and Lakes states. Revenge is never a good thing and never be a solution to any violent conflict. Revenge is the first step toward escalation.

As an integrated human society, we need to acknowledge our differences but to look past them and find common ground with the entire world’s people. In this critical situation, it should be our paramount priority to understand how to minimize, prevent, or eliminate cattle raids which is the major core problems among the neighboring communities.

Furthermore, if we wish to concentrate on peace, we must learn how to suspend ourselves in the present and focus on the future we ultimately wish to work on together. The current consensus among peace theorists is that peace is not a state of being to be found somewhere in the future or at any time, but a reference to processes and qualities regarding our relationships with self and others, manifesting themselves in perception, reaction, affection, and action.

Healthy relationships, friendly environment, the absence of fear, and feelings of safety will allow and give chances for development in our communities. These also allow our state governments to plan for development projects that aim at helping communities in term of service delivery to the people. Everyone wants peace and friendly environment.

I invite politicians and men of good will to work with determination for peace and reconciliation that encompasses states to change this culture of killings and cattle rustlings that have caused all the sufferings among the bordering communities. There is no any development associated with the violent or conflicts. These conflicts induce extremely high direct and indirect costs, and behind these costs, are lives lost, immense human suffering, and the destruction of communities.

Finally, I also appeal to the three state governments to set up what is called ‘Peer and Partner Conflict Watchdog.’ The states watchdog committees would consist of members drawn from diverse sectors of the society who serve alongside representatives of neighboring communities that serve on their own state’s watchdog committees, and also alongside representatives of national and development partners. In this way the structure allows for sharing of lessons learned across political communities.

The watchdog would serve a role as a national conflict ombudsman, it would receive complaints from civilians and information from decentralized conflict monitoring institutions and other bodies, and prepare an annual national conflict risks status report that assesses the impact of economic policies on instances of violent actions taken by government or non-governmental bodies, and violations of human rights norms by transnational corporations and other bodies, and submit this report to the national government and to international development and financial agencies.

The purpose is to foster learning from peers and partners concerning alternative strategies to reduce the likelihood of violent conflict. This set of policy measures for conflict prevention in the neighboring states’ communities will give rooms to social services delivery and freedom of movement of people from state to state, especially businessmen and women. It’s also giving each state’s government to come up with a set of guidelines for development policies and create development programs in conflict areas.

This author is a concern citizen of South Sudan, from Lakes State. A student pursuing Bachelor of Arts in Community Based Development at Nkumba University in Kampala, Uganda.
You can reach me for any comment at: maloumanyiel@yahoo.com

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