Need to document experiences on mediation and peace processes – Mumuni

Mohammad Mumuni - Minister, Foreign Affairs

Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, on Wednesday advocated documentation of experiences on mediation and peace processes undertaken in West Africa, to tackle future challenges to regional peace and security.

He expressed worry that though lots of mediation and peace processes had been undertaken in the sub-region, not much had been done to catalogue those experiences for capacity building.

Alhaji Mumuni was speaking at the opening session of a two-day experience-sharing workshop on mediation and peace processes in West Africa that was jointly organized by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) and Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) in Accra.

He called for the adoption of sound theoretical and relevant empirical analytic strategies to resolve conflicts in West Africa.

Alhaji Mumuni said: “Every conflict has its own unique history and dynamics and there is no ‘one size fits all’ conflict resolution approach” and added that the concept of mediation needed to be re-conceptualised and re-formulated.

These, according to the Minister included a change in the notion that mediation was primarily a diplomatic activity, and stressed that limiting possible mediators to only one category of actors, namely State and governmental diplomats, was not judicious and appropriate.

Alhaji Mumuni said: “International mediation needs to mainstream and incorporate non-official mediators, especially, those with sustained presence in conflict zones and established communication channels with protagonists into the peace process. Partnerships between local and external mediators need to be fostered.”

He said there was the need to place equal importance on the process and relationship of building relationships with parties involved in conflict rather than on being excessively concerned with negotiated outcomes.

Alhaji Mumuni said: “A bad process could impede agreement and contribute to failure irrespective of how well-designed the outcome. In internal conflicts, building a process that is perceived as fair, just and sustainable is probably as important as achieving a satisfactory outcome.

“International mediation needs to move from its short-term orientation towards long term with a sustained focus well into the implementation phase.

“Too often, mediation terminates when parties sign the general peace agreements, since this step is perceived as the official conclusion of the conflict. The implementation of the terms of agreement can be the most difficult part of the whole process”.

Alhaji Mumuni called for the preparation of implementation phase from the beginning and to incorporate procedures to deal with expected disputes that might arise.

In a speech read on his behalf, Mr James Victor Gbeho, President of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said experience showed that ECOWAS had developed comparative advantage in the area of conflict management.

“The region is now poised to advance its economic integration and development agenda as envisioned by the Founding Fathers of ECOWAS,” he said.

Mr Gbeho said though threats existed in the region, ECOWAS was mustering its efforts to suppress and extinguish any conflict.

He called for post-conflict reconstruction in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire.

Brigadier General Martin Owusu-Ababio, Deputy Commandant of KAIPTC, said that the workshop formed part of a project on improving the capacity of West African countries in mediation and peace processes.

He said it would focus on research, policy dialogues, training and capacity building in mediation and peace processes towards conflict prevention in West Africa in particular and Africa as a whole.

Miss Tuija Talvitie, Executive Director of CMI, said her outfit was a Finnish independent non-profit organization, established in 2000 to resolve conflicts and build sustainable peace.

She explained that the workshop was aimed at sharing experiences, identifying lessons, conducting joint analysis of peace processes across the region and to offer solutions.

Ms Talvitie said “The workshop is based on our belief that any successful training and capacity-building programs should learn from past experiences. Actors working in the field of mediation and peace processes in West Africa have rarely had the chance to share their experiences and to reflect on their past achievements and challenges.”

Source: GNA

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