The Peacebuilding Role of Civil Society in Southern Africa

Date: March 14, 2013
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The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), based at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA), in Johannesburg, South Africa, held a two day policy seminar on 14 and 15 October 2005 in Maseru, Lesotho. The seminar was a follow-up to a policy advisory group seminar convened by CCR in Cape Town on 8 and 9 June 2005, with the theme: “Whither SADC? An Agenda for Post-Apartheid SecurityÀ, which provided a platform for civil society and senior policymakers to analyse security challenges in southern Africa. The Maseru seminar was timely, as it was convened after two events that are critical to peace and security initiatives in the Southern African Development Community (SADC): – The annual summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in August 2005, which reiterated the importance of civil society to the peace and security agenda of the region; and – The inaugural summit of the SADC-Council of Non-Governmental Organisations (SADC-CNGO), also held in August 2005, which seeks to enhance the visibility of civil society engagement with SADC on peace and security issues. The cessation of hostilities in Angola in 2002 and progress in peace building initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has brought greater stability to southern Africa. In order to reap the dividends of the prevailing peace, it is imperative for civil society and governments to prioritise peace building processes which seek to strengthen democracy and governance while simultaneously addressing the sub-region’s socio-economic challenges. The concept of peace building came into widespread use following the publication of former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s report, An Agenda for Peace, in 1992. Peace building involves conflict prevention and peacemaking (bringing conflicting parties to the negotiating table), and post-conflict reconstruction initiatives focusing on nurturing sustainable peace. Thus, issues such as strengthening democratic governance and addressing the structural causes of violence have become central to successful peace building. This broad interpretation of peace building has necessitated different players assuming responsibility for its various specialised obligations. While the primary responsibility to ensure peace and stability remains that of the state, civil society has become an increasingly relevant player in all aspects of peace building: conflict early-warning initiatives; peace agreements; humanitarian relief efforts; strengthening governance institutions; and post-conflict reconstruction. The Maseru seminar explored the following five broad themes: – Civil Society in Southern Africa; – Civil Society and Democratic Governance; – The Civil Society/Government Nexus; – Comparative Lessons for Southern Africa from West Africa; and – Civil Society Experiences in Peace building.

Year of Publication: 2005

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