Building Bridges for Sustainable Peace: Our Latest Annual Report is Out

More than 22 years of work in conflict-affected regions around the world, has shown us that strengthening the links between the different levels of society is a vital element to build lasting peace. Facilitating positive interactions between local communities, civil society and political elites helps re-build bonds of trust and strengthens lines of communication where previously these may have been weak or completely absent.

These mechanisms and strategies that are adapted to each context, help foster political processes that guarantee legitimacy, trust and sustainability, because they are based on the meaningful participation of people from all sectors of society.

Our 2016 Annual Report, “Building bridges for sustainable peace”, illustrates how our Track 6 approach provides an inclusive peacebuilding method in 20 countries around the world. From contributing to build a peaceful federal state of Somalia, to re-building bonds of trust among Malians; and from helping Rwandans heal, to accompanying the Colombian police in its transformation for peace implementation, among many others.

IGAD and Interpeace sign MOU for Collaboration on Peace Initiatives in Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa

L' Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Interpeace to work together on peace initiatives in Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa.
The MOU was signed in Nairobi by IGAD’s Executive Secretary, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, and Interpeace’s Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa, Mr Jean Paul Mugiraneza. Also present at the signing ceremony were Mr Camlus Omogo, Director of IGAD’s Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN), several other senior IGAD officials, Interpeace staff and representatives of local Interpeace partners from Somalia and Kenya.

IGAD’s Executive Secretary, Ambassador Mahboub Maalim (LEFT), speaks at the IGAD-Interpeace MOU signing ceremony. Photo credit: Interpeace

“This is a first step towards a fruitful long journey,” Interpeace’s Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa, Jean Paul Mugiraneza, remarked after the signing. “This MOU gives us the framework to work together, to be innovative and to help make the region safer and more peaceful.”
IGAD is a Regional Economic Community (REC), established in 1986 with a mandate for regional economic cooperation and development. Its eight member states are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

Interpeace’s Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa, Jean Paul Mugiraneza, speaks at the signing ceremony. Photo credit: Interpeace

Interpeace’s Senior Advisor for Eastern and Central Africa, Johan Svensson, lauded IGAD’s efforts in tackling conflicts within the region and expressed optimism that the newly formalised collaboration between the two organisations would be fruitful.

“I have had the opportunity follow the work and achievements of IGAD in many conflict zones, not least in Somalia and South Sudan, where IGAD has been on the forefront working for peace,” Mr Svensson said. “Interpeace’s long experience, coupled with IGAD’s standing as a leading regional organisation, presents a good combination for peacebuilding in the Horn of Africa.”

On his part, IGAD Executive Secretary Ambassador Mahboub Maalim underscored some of the most pressing challenges facing peace, security and development in the region.

“Peace and security in this region are important but can be elusive. There are resource conflicts, political conflicts, and conflicts over inadequate borderlands development. Another thing is that across the countries we need to address issues of infrastructure, early warning systems, faster policy level decisions and enhanced mediation and diplomacy. We also need to tackle emerging crimes such as violent extremism, money laundering and human trafficking linked to migration and violent extremism,” Ambassador Maalim said.

Interpeace’s Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa, Jean Paul Mugiraneza (with microphone), speaks at the signing ceremony. Photo credit: Interpeace

Interpeace currently implements peacebuilding programmes in 21 countries across the world, in strategic partnership with the United Nations. Interpeace has worked in Somalia for over 20 years, collaborating with local partners to support and advance peacebuilding and statebuilding processes based on pre-existing resilience factors among the local communities.

Within the IGAD region, Interpeace has supported peacebuilding and statebuilding processes in Somalie for over two decades. In Kenya, Interpeace collaborates with the country’s Commission nationale pour la cohésion et l’intégration (NCIC) to implement a peacebuilding programme in Mandera County, along the country’s tri-border area with Somalia and Ethiopia. It is hoped that Interpeace’s work in Mandera County could spawn further initiatives for sustainable peace in the broader Mandera Triangle, where the three countries converge geographically.

Alluding to the potential opportunities for synergy in the new collaboration between the two organisations, Ambassador Maalim welcomed Interpeace to work closely with IGAD.

“We want to partner with Interpeace as much as possible. If there is an area that Interpeace thinks IGAD can do better, or can do together with Interpeace, please feel free to bring it to our attention as legitimised by this MOU,” he concluded.

A major step on the route to sustainable peace in Mali

From 3 to 5 May 2016, representatives from all regions of Mali and refugee camps in Mauritania and Niger gathered in Bamako at the 2nd National Conference on “Chronic insecurity, the evolution of values: proposed solutions to lasting peace in Mali.” These two challenges were identified by Malians as the main obstacles to peace. They were identified as a priority by the participants of the 1st National Conference held in Bamako in January 2015.

Organized by Interpeace and its partner in Mali, the Institut Malien de Recherche Action Pour la Paix (IMRAP), and chaired by the Secretary-General of the Ministry of National Reconciliation, the 2nd National Conference is a key step along the peacebuilding process. It strove to include representation from all Malian social backgrounds; beyond societal fault lines. As strikingly expressed by a participant, “all Malians were involved in this process, and that guarantees the legitimacy of the solutions to be decided here.”

For a large number of Malians, changes in societal values represent the root of cause of many tensions and conflicts which afflict Mali today. In their eyes, ignorance of the socio-cultural and economic realities between regions and communities has widened due to a lack of opportunities for encounters and dialogue. Accordingly, participants at the 2nd National Conference strongly emphasized the need to create a broad dialogue, at all levels, in order to establish a consensus on these values and, ultimately, determine the Malian social contract. As such, the proposed solutions adopted by the Malian populations represented at the conference, in order of priority, were the following:

• Strengthen the culture of dialogue for social cohesion;
• Promote citizenship education to strengthen patriotism;
• Organize major cultural encounters to promote mutual awareness and understanding.

The conference also tackled the second main challenge identified by Malians: chronic insecurity, and more precisely, the crisis of trust between the populations and the state’s Security and Defence forces (DSF). Indeed, for Malians, current major investments in equipment and training for DSF, as needed as they might be, will not ensure people’s security as long as minimal trust and collaboration with populations is not ensured. To face this challenge, participants at the conference, civilians and DSF alike, emphasized the importance of dialogue between and among themselves. In that respect, the prioritised solutions were the following:

• Develop a common and shared understanding of DSF’s and populations’ respective roles and responsibilities;
• Adapt the capacities of DSF to the current evolving security context;
• Ensure the concerted management of the security sector;
• Ensure a transparent recruitment process that is both fair and effective.

At the end of the Conference, the participants strongly agreed to participate in the implementation of the prioritised solutions – together with the support of Interpeace and IMRAP. Before concluding by stating his intention to channel Malians’ voices toward the National authorities, a high member of the National Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR) claimed: “we need to ensure inclusivity to find solutions to what is hitting us, to the crisis. […] I believe IMRAP is showing us the way.”