Initiating Peace Processes

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grafic source: operation world

Historical

The wounds and scars impacting communities from historical injustice continue to fester with limited band aid approaches not getting to the root causes of the pain. These deep wounds have affected identity, self-confidence and a sense of wellbeing, exacerbated by ongoing injustice, violence and poverty. Communities informed by a history of colonial and post-colonial struggles, where weapons of words that undermined were as affective as weapons that inflicted physical violence. Ongoing political challenges, internal struggles for power, military coups, civil wars, dictatorships all causing mass displacement of people. Adding to the suffering is the reality that many of the perpetrators have never been brought to justice. The roots of most of these conflicts in Africa date back to the nineteenth century or even earlier. These historical factors are intricate and intertwined and impact on the current context. Political tensions are intertwined with ethnic conflicts which makes it difficult to resolve most of the issues.

 

Current
In the recent past Africa has moved away from dictatorship and military rule to a continent that is entrenching democratic rule and institutions. While Africa seems to be making strides in her democratic endeavors a number of a communities and countries are experiencing internal challenges which have threatened local democratic institutions. Some of the reasons that account for these challenges include voting on ethnic lines, lack of intolerance, weakened democratic institutions and poor governance.  
A number of countries in the Southern African region are considered models of democracy on Africa. However, recent events in the region have the capacity to rewrite this history and threaten the peace that the region enjoys. Measures need to be taken now to address the emerging in-country conflicts rather than wait for a fully grown crisis to evolve. The promotion of justice and reconciliation are antidotes to impunity. Powerful individuals and state institutions have the tendency to act as they desire without fear of reprisals, reproach, retribution, or recrimination. In the context of impunity there is a deficit of democratic structures of accountability, fairness, and impartiality.


Justice, peace, good governance, and reconciliation, thrive in contexts where stable democratic values and impulses prevail, and where there is a culture of constitutionalism to constrain arbitrariness and abuse of power. Ending impunity and promoting justice and reconciliation needs to be the goal of the church and faith Based organisations in Africa.
Situational Analysis Peace building and reconciliation in any context are long term processes that require a good understanding of the root causes of conflict and how to respond to it. Exploration of what policies are needed, which programmes and strategies will help, and which institutions are needed to build/rebuild human and institutional capacity. 


We have to admit that conflict is inherent in all societies, but the major distinction is how communities handle misunderstandings. Differences in interests and opinions between groups in a country are expected. However, how such differences are expressed and managed determines if conflicts will manifest themselves in non-violent or violent ways. When groups within a society pursue their objectives in accordance with the laws and established norms of that society, conflict
tends to be predominantly nonviolent. Never the less when groups turn to violence to pursue their interests, and the use of violence outweighs the use of nonviolent means.


Widespread societal conflicts in the African context are often played out against the backdrop of deep poverty, ethnic tensions, illiteracy and weak systems of governance. In the most extreme cases, societal conflicts are products of long-term degenerative politics marked by a loss of control over the economic and political space. The poor, including women and children are the most affected when societal conflicts arise. Undermined by governance challenges and administrative failures, most states in Africa have not responded adequately to the root causes of conflicts. It is for this reason that societal conflicts are symptoms of deep rooted conflicts and are indicative of insecurity.
Societal conflicts are not usually localised; they harmful spillover effects on neighboring countries. The flow of refugees, heightened insecurity and ethnic tensions and the resulting diplomatic conflicts have all engaged substantial resources and efforts from relatively stable countries that share borders with collapsed states.


The existence of conflict does not, in itself, necessarily lead to the eruption of widespread hostilities. The tolerance and coping capacities of the poor, excluded and marginalised sections of society in Africa are legend and manifold. Conflict does engender large-scale violence if structural conditions are present, such as authoritarian rule and/or lack of political rights, state weaknesses and lack of
human and institutional capacity to manage conflict. The risk of an outbreak of violence increases when these conditions exist concurrently or are exacerbated by other problems, such as manipulation of ethnic or other differences (in religion, culture and language), which further fragments society and intensify conflict.

 

Taken from project proposal

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