15 June 2012

Sudan: South Sudan to Develop Conflict Early Warning and Response Strategy

Juba — Alarmed by the high rate of conflict among its communities, various stakeholders in South Sudan on Tuesday resolved to develop a conflict early warning and early response strategy, widely seen as a mechanism for monitoring, information sharing and conflict prevention.

The adoption of the seven-year strategy (2012-2019) follows a decision taken by the high level technical policy organs of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development's (IGAD) Conflict Early Warming and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), which was established in 2002.

While officially opening the two-day meeting, Chol Luot, the chairperson South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission (SSPRC), said the state-owned institution is delighted to be part of the plan to adopt he seven-year strategy, adding that SSPRC will fully support IGAD in efforts to successfully implement the conflict early warning and early response initiative.

"The situation South Sudan is experiencing currently requires the urgent implementation of early warning systems. My commission [South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission] will fully support IGAD and its partners as we strive to reduce or prevent conflicts in the country," he said.

The SSPRC chairperson, also head of the recently launched Conflict Early Warning and Early Response Unit (CEWERU) in South Sudan, specifically cited the urgent need for conflict early warning systems in states that border other neighboring countries to reduce territorial-related or land disputes.

Martin Kimani, the director for CEWARN described early warning systems as a direct approach to governance through conflict prevention, which he said should involve the active participation all stakeholders in communities.

"The success of the early warning and early response strategy will entirely depend on how well the citizen understand conflict, its causes and how it can be prevented from society," Kimani said.

The new strategy, Sudan Triune has learned, will entail an expanded thematic and geographic scope with the new areas of reporting in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and other member states. CEWARN will, as part of the process, closely monitor and drive response to conflicts linked to food insecurity, degradation, volatile climate and migration related issues.

According to Kimani, CEWARN has adopted a bottom-up approach in developing the new strategy plan, with a strong focus on local community needs and perspectives regarding the current dynamics of cross-border peace in security.

"The plan is also intended to build on CEWARN's experience and strength in terms of informing national and regional conflict early warning, response and peace building practices and linking them with local practice," he said.

IGAD, according to Kimani, has come up with a Rapid Response Fund (RRF) which will be used to directly quickly respond to emergency situations, through sponsoring negotiations, which is seen as a beginning process before the involvement of key actors like government.

"Sometimes these funds can be used to set up a water project for communities, but it has to start with first consulting the communities on what they actually need," he said.

Describing the RRF as a "modest" fund, the CEWARN director said with the existence of so many conflicts and problems in society today, South Sudan being IGAD's newest member seeks to gain a lot from the other countries, hence capable of becoming the "leading" nation in conflict prevention and peace.

In 2002, several countries, including Sudan, ratified the much-hyped protocol to prevent conflicts, in the aftermath wars that occurred in Rwanda, and other African countries. However, South Sudan, which is yet to ratify the protocol, has already embarked on conflict prevention process, evidence by last month's successful launch of its early warning and early response unit under the SSPRC.

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