Regional peace building: Top on East African leaders’ agenda

Leaders of different countries that form the East African Community have to work with a common goal and avoid individual state interest, if the initiative is to make sense “It should be noted at the outset that there are two distinct ways to understand peace building. Peace building consists of a wide range of activities associated with capacity building, reconciliation, and societal transformation. Peace building is a long-term process that takes place after violent conflict has slowed down or come to a halt. Thus, it is the phase of the peace process that takes place after peacemaking and peacekeeping,” UN.

Leaders of different countries that form the East African Community have to work with a common goal and avoid individual state interest, if the initiative is to make sense

“It should be noted at the outset that there are two distinct ways to understand peace building. Peace building consists of a wide range of activities associated with capacity building, reconciliation, and societal transformation. Peace building is a long-term process that takes place after violent conflict has slowed down or come to a halt. Thus, it is the phase of the peace process that takes place after peacemaking and peacekeeping,” UN.

Peace building in the Great Lakes Region is top on the agenda of East African leaders. This is in accordance with Article 124(Regional Peace and Security) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community, which states that, “The partner states agree that peace and security are prerequisites to social and economic development within the community and vital to the achievement of the objectives of the community.”

Article 125 of the same document adds that, “In order to promote the achievement of the objectives of the community, as set in Article 5 of this Treaty, particularly with respect to the promotion of peace, security and stability good neighbourliness among partner states, and in accordance with Article 124 of this Treaty, the partner states agree to closely cooperate in defence affairs.

To achieve the latter, soldiers in the region have been under going joint training. Though it is important to develop such background, what is more demanding is the change of attitude.

Africa has always had brave soldiers, but they are messed up by leaders who want to meet their egoistic ends. The Great Lakes Region has been plunged into conflicts and wars for ages. The new sense of concern from the leaders is therefore long overdue.

But are they ready to make an impact? What are the challenges of building peace in post conflict societies? These are some of the questions the article is trying to highlight.
Peace building initiatives need real committed leadership that puts people before individual or group benefits.

So, if East African leaders are engaged in a peace building process in the region, then this is a sign that they will succeed. But if they are not, then they will simply be undergoing rhetoric academic exercise that characterises all other peace initiatives that have failed before.

As a sign of responsibility we need leaders who are able to predict a conflict before it turns fullscale. They should similarly be able to check hatred before it escalates into genocide—as it was with Rwanda and in the making—in Sudan and Zimbabwe. Systematic inhibition of a people does not come overnight; it is a long process that can be stopped before it’s out hand.

“Effective preventive strategies rest on three principles: early reaction to signs of trouble; a comprehensive, balanced approach to alleviate the pressures, or risk factors, that trigger violent conflict; and an extended effort to resolve the underlying root causes of violence,” says Eric Brahm, Assistant Professor Department of Political Science University of Nevada - Las Vegas.

As Brahm opines, if the situation in the DR Congo can be assessed and proper strategies put in place, the risk to escalate into a regional conflict could be averted. 

Otherwise, a conflict like the one in DRC is complex, in that it involves large numbers of actors using many different strategies to pursue many different objectives over a long period of time.

This is mainly because of its natural resources that the rich West, admire and the nature of politics in the country itself. Only a sober, informed and a dedicated mind can offer a solution. Unfortunately these kind of minds are rare in our region.

The main conflict in the region today, is the DRC one. Unfortunately it is handled by the UN which is virtually incompetent. The UN soldiers from as  far as India, for instance, do not know who is involved, what they are doing and why?

They cannot therefore adopt strategies to end the violence, simple. Nonetheless, there is a lot of hope that the newly started programme to build peace in the East African region will succeed.

The leaders of different countries that form the East African Community have to work on a common goal and avoid individual state interest, if the initiative is to make sense.

Contact: mugitoni@yahoo.com

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