Local Legislation and Capacity Building Workshop on UNSCR 1325 and 1820; June 19-21, 2012 at Paloma Guest House, Kenema, Sierra Leone

Local Legislation and Capacity Building Workshop on UNSCR 1325 and 1820; June 19-21, 2012 at Paloma Guest House, Kenema, Sierra Leone

By Selamawit Tesfaye

The Local Legislation and Capacity Building Workshop kicked off on June 19 in the Eastern district of Kenema in Sierra Leone. The workshop has the objective of enhancing women’s capacities to participate in discussions and decision-making on peace and security issues.

The Deputy Mayor of Kenema City Council Madam Margaret Shiaka spoke at the opening and outlined the importance of capacity building of women within the decentralization process of Sierra Leone as it will strengthen the existing governance structure at local levels in the country.

Over 35 participants were in attendance for this workshop from Sierra Leone and other members of GNWP from Burundi, Rwanda, DRC and Liberia.

The most interesting part of the workshop for me was the Conflict Analysis Exercise undertaken by each of the countries and represented. Each country described the conflict in their communities, who the actors were and also the root causes of these conflicts. This process gave me an opportunity to grasp the different aspects of conflicts within the countries represented as they gave a full analysis of the impact of the conflicts on their families, their communities and most of all the impact on women.

There were other interesting sessions which included an introduction of 1325 and 1820 by Dr. Nana Pratt (NOW-SL). She gave a background on some issues from the Sierra

Leone National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 and its implementation and its link with the local legislation process in the country.  There was also an analysis of linkages between development, peace and security and good governance. Here, the participants divided into groups and shared their understanding of what constitutes as good or bad governance and how they see the existing governance structure in their local council area. They then analyzed the relationship between the Local Council and Cheifdoms and how they relate to each other including on ways this relationship can better be enhanced and more effective. This session gave rise to a heated debate on the existing structures as there were representatives from the Council as well as the Cheiftan structure of Sierra Leone.

The last day involved the development of specific action plans for activities related to UNSCR 1325 and 1820 that should be integrated to Council Development Plans (CDP) and those that should be written into by-laws that will help in reinforcing the existing laws in the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions on women peace and security. Here, the participants identified and committed to enforce the activities that are within their committees.

Although all the participants acknowledged the importance of having by-laws to reinforce the existing national laws, they also noted that so far no by-law has been adopted in Sierra Leone and that various drafts are back logged in the Solicitor General’s Office waiting for approval. In my opinion the focus should now divert to having the already drafted by-laws approved and put into effect. The importance of by-laws in reinforcing existing national laws is of course unquestionable. However, their effectiveness will only be realized if and when they are adopted thus emphasizing the need for advocacy and lobbying on the issue.