November 28, 2014, New York, USA –Mr. Geir O. Pedersen, Ambassador of Norway, moderated the Women Redefining the Terms of Peace Negotiations meeting at the United Nations on Friday, October 31. Panelists included Ambassador Maria Emma Mejia of Columbia; Elizabeth Rehm; GNWP members, Gloria Tobón Olarte from Columbia; Rosa Emilia Salamanca from Colombia; Priscilla Nyanyang from South Sudan; and Rita Martin from South Sudan.
Ms. Tobón Olarte spoke about the impact of conflict on the lives of Colombian women. She explained that women have played a significant role in the peace process, and noted that complex political dynamics exist in Colombia. She talked about high levels of violence and human rights abuses that continue to plague the country, detailing that women and girls feel less secure in their daily lives because of gangs and trafficking of drugs in urban areas.
Ms. Salamanca explained that women have made great advancements regarding the pursuit of best political practices in Colombia. She noted that the women’s movement established the negotiating party, facilitated a summit with the international community and pushed for greater participation on panels. Though women continue to be marginalized. She concluded by emphasizing the need to engage in dialogue and focus on issues from a multilevel perspective, beyond grass roots organizations.
Priscilla Nyanyang of South Sudan discussed current struggles regarding power-sharing issues post-independence. She focused on the conflict that has continued for almost a year, explaining that the Genesis SPLM party disagrees with succession. Moreover, the country does not have one cohesive army. Instead, it has a combination of militias. Though the peace process started immediately, Ms. Nyanyang explained that the situation has been complicated by Kenyan and Sudanese interest in building a pipeline that would run through Kenya or Djibouti. Additionally, the large immigrant population that resides in South Sudan has proven problematic. She believes that South Sudan lacks a national agenda, power-sharing is unclear and citizens have not bought in to the system. Ms. Nyanyang concluded by discussing the disruption of planning the highly anticipated 2015 Elections because of persistent issues surrounding governance, presidential powers, security, and demobilization.
Rita Martin of South Sudan discussed the Addis Ababa peace process, specifically the negotiating process. Numerous international mediators and three special envoys participated, but the process was not South Sudan led, which created problems. Those involved did not agree on issues such as creating a federalism system, or the mandate for the transitional government and length of the process. She expressed that a lack of trust exists among the parties involved. The move from Addis Ababa to Arusha complicated the process because it shifted the focus from stakeholders to interparty issues; it is no longer an SPLM issue. Many people have been killed and displaced; there is a need for accountability, distribution of power, justice and impunity. But those goals are disappearing now that the parties are focused on power-sharing and terms of office.
Negotiating a Better Peace Meeting
GNWP members also met on Friday, October 31, to discuss the ICAN Tool “Negotiating a Better Peace,” which is currently in a draft version. The goal of this document is to offer concepts and strategies that will make the peace process more inclusive. The first section includes a due diligence checklist that will help organizations in assessing where, how, and if they should participate in the process. The second section focuses on how to take a stance, provide technical assistance for acquiring visas, permission, and also enable participation and practical application. The ICAN Tool focuses on post-violence issues and offers a roadmap to organizations interested in peacebuilding.
Members had the opportunity to share ideas and give input regarding content and language of the document. Additionally, emphasis was placed on ensuring that when translating the final document into different languages, the authors take into account that concepts or phrases in English might not be interpreted in the same manner in another language. Concluding that tailoring the document for each country will be necessary.
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By Lori Perkovich, Research and Advocacy Intern, Global Network of Women Peacebuilders