South Sudan Context
After almost two decades of war between the Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Government of Sudan, ended with the independence of South Sudan in 2011, the country is already experiences conflict, started in December 2013. All phases of the conflict in South Sudan contributed to the political instability and nearly entire collapse of the governance system and national economy. Particularly regarding the systems of governance, its failure is due to the lack of knowledge and low levels of education, which prevents them to make informed decisions.
“High levels of armed violence and insecurity have a destructive impact on a country’s development, affecting economic growth and often resulting in long standing grievances among communities that can last for generations. Sexual violence, crime, exploitation and torture are also prevalent where there is conflict or no rule of law, and countries must take measures to protect those who are most at risk” (UNDP, 2015).
Due to the protracted wars and their long-term effects, majority of the South Sudanese population, is illiterate, has never lived in a situation of permanent peace, and this contributes to the dragging of the conflict during the years, instead of relying to peaceful solutions of local and national governance. The only political transition in South Sudan was given by the 2010 general elections, yet majority of civilian population in South Sudan did not fully understand the implication of such change.
This is once again linked to the low educational levels and the disrupted social fabric of South Sudan, due to the long wars. Educationplays a major role in the stability of a country, enabling peace-building and social change. It enables individuals to make informed decisions at all levels and it foster dialogue as a mean to overcome their differences. Majority of the population in South Sudan is completely illiterate and has not experience positive social transformation or peaceful political transition. Such issues are not only concerns of South Sudan, but also of the international community.
The Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) has brought hope and optimism for a constitutional reform and for the establishment of a transitional government of national unity. However, since its signing in August 2015, the rapid political and governance change expected, including improved security, equitable economic and social recovery across the war-affected areas, as yet to take place.
Furthermore, the fact that an agreement has been reached at national level, does not necessarily imply that it will be well received at community level, and the conflict is likely to be protracted from local groups/entities from both sides of the current conflict, if peace-building processes are not put in place. The implementation of the ARCSS at grass-root level has been perceived as very slow, leading citizens and communities to question the willingness and ability to implement the peace agreement. This has exacerbated frustrations and suspicions, as well as increasing the possibility of a new conflict.
Main Aim and Objectives
LCED’s aim is to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (Sustainable Development Goal No. 16). “Peace, stability, human rights and effective governance based on the rule of law are important conduits for sustainable development” (UNDP, 2015).
In order to achieve such goal, the LCED initiatives in the operative area of “peace-building, conflict resolution and good governance” have the following objectives:
- Increase access to information related to peace and governance for the local communities, by using key persons and establishing appropriate channels of communication.
Since 2008, LCED has been operating in Western Equatoria State, South Sudan, implementing different peace-building projects, in order to promote dialogues among and within communities and solve disputes peacefully. LCED recognizes the importance of peace-building for the reconstruction, recovery and socio-economic development of South Sudan. Durable peace is an essential precondition for sustainable development, and it is necessary to be implemented in South Sudan in order to allow communities to rebuild their nation and livelihoods.
2. Foster advocacy activities for peace and social change, in order to sensitize the population on the importance of peaceful coexistence and dialogue.
3. Promote dialogue within and among communities, in order to use diplomacy, good traditional practices and rule of law rather than violence to solve disputes.
4. Restore the citizens’ trust in the local and national authorities, as well as restore the youth’s respect and confidence in the elderly. This will also limit conflicts to the parts involved (individuals/families/groups) instead of making it become an issue between communities or tribes.
5. Eliminate harmful traditional practices in favor of the rule of law.
6. Restore security in the area, as well as freedom of movement and freedom of association for community members.