Sunday, June 17, 2012

Peace is political

South Sudan is now its own country. Although there is a line on a map, we are running the risk of creating another Western Sahara situation. The borders must be set and agreed to as soon as possible. On top of that issue there are the lawless areas of the countries, tribal clashes, reintegration/education programs and the economy of course.
The grand ideology of peace is easy to understand. The experiences, practices and dedication to be peaceful obviously offers challenges.  Many of the violent conflicts are completely avoidable yet the will to actually prevent such events is just not there. This is so frustrating for many reasons which everyone can point out.  What will it take to change that behaviour?
The number of frustrations has no limit. The entire society/country has a loose grip on a reality/culture without war. At the moment there are a vast amount of aid programs, some have been available for decades. However, chaos still exists.
Chaos is solved with understanding, order and with a good balance of predictability. The base root of change is education and action. As people evolve through the chaos of war there is a transition of physical and mental reality. The violence of war may diminish yet the distrust and knowledge of insecurity lingers for years. That protracted insecurity which is manifested in corruption of society and individual, needs education and action to change.
Programmes such reintegration (DDR) of former combatants is one that I have spent a great deal of time with. In Sudan these programmes have not been very well explained to the people.  “No one was familiar with the term DDR as referring to a process of transitioning from military to sustainable civilian life.”[1] This is a strong indication of a fundamental breakdown in peacebuilding within Sudan.
There are so many levels of focus a person can take with most conflicts, international, regional, national, community, tribal, religious and individual. The old saying “the fish rots from the head down” is very popular. Staying true to that saying results in focusing on the leaders/governments. This focus really puts an emphasis on how leaders are chosen, in other words politics.
The sad reality is that there is a large amount of distrust within the most senior levels of leadership as well. The most powerful group is the Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council and it has been East against West from the outset. This divide has impacted every conflict the United Nations is tasked with solving.
Starting with the head of the fish, we must choose leaders that actually have the will to solve war not prolong or instigate.

[1] Small Arms Survey. Human Security Baseline Assessment. Sudan Issue Brief #17 May 2011. Pg., 6.

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