Tuesday December 12, 2017

GATWECH WAL: IGAD’S mediation of South Sudan conflict will bring no peace. Just a waste of time


Australia – Factually IGAD’s mediation on South Sudan’s conflict will produce no peace; it is just a waste of time. The reason behind the scene is that IGAD’s leaders or mediators are not neutral. As well, they are not respecting the two South Sudanese’s warring parties, that is, SPLA/M Juba and SPLA/M in Opposition. They neither care nor measure the feelings, reactions, ethical and moral values of the two warring parties.


In addition, the two warring parties are being mediated without an understanding of the underlying causes, primary actors, disputed issues and effort that should be made towards conflict resolution. Thus, I feel it is a waste of time and resources, as around the globe there has never been mediation like what IGAD’s leaders are doing on the South Sudan’s conflict.


Mediation is not an easy task. Trying to be a mediator while not knowing your role as a mediator often brings problems such as misunderstanding, loathing and lack of trust between the parties and mediator. Based on my knowledge in mediation, being a mediator does not need to be emotional, arrogant, take sides or work in favour of one party or the other. It just needs full responsibility, accountability of management of interruptions during and after the talks. But I doubt IGAD’s mediators’ knowledge in those areas.


In an essence and real practice of mediation, there are two phases in the mediation process and conflict management. That is, problem defining and solving. These two phases are important in all areas of mediations, no matter which conflict mediation a mediator is dealing with. Furthermore, these two phases have different stages and tasks which can be identified. Within each phase and by all means the mediators have to know and follow without pressure from bystanders. For example, in phase one of problem defining there are more than three stages a mediator should go through in the course of the mediation process. These stages include intake. In another word, this is the first stage where a mediator should determine appropriateness to mediate. Other layers are such as orientation, storytelling and identification of main issues, agenda setting and so on. Yet, among these stages, zero is being followed by IGAD’s leaders.


Moreover, in phase two of problem solving, there are some steps that should be followed in the mediation process. These steps include developing options or mapping conflict, selecting options or negotiation and decision making, agreement, and implementation or follow–up plus many more. All those mentioned phases are by virtue of the steps that should be followed in any conflict mediation, whether it is between a wife and a husband or a situation like the South Sudan one.


Did IGAD’s mediators follow any of above mentioned steps? The answer is no! IGAD’s leaders did not follow or apply any single step on South Sudan’s conflict. Personally, as a person who often follows the peace process online and over the phone, there is not even a little chance for IGAD’s leaders to bring solution to South Sudan’s conflict. This is because they are using neither normal mediation processes nor other options in bringing peace to South Sudan and its warring parties.


IGAD’s mediators are looking for benefits not peace, overwhelmed by their interests and gains that they want to get in this time of South Sudan’s dark days. They do not want peace to come sooner in South Sudan due to the fact that much of the incomes they are getting would cease if peace came into place. Also, their being part of the conflict would not help them bring peace between the two South Sudanese’s factions. Mediation is always neutral but IGAD’s mediators are not neutral, thus South Sudanese’s warring parties are wasting their time in asking IGAD’s leaders to mediate with them.


Nevertheless, another failure is that IGAD’s mediators have limited talents and skills in the mediation process management, strategic intervention, investigation, presentation and discussion in relation to what can and cannot bring peace in the young nation. Absence of those talents and skills is what makes them keep adjourning the peace talks because they do not want to tell South Sudanese, other African leaders and the whole world that they know little in the mediation process. To me, I think it will be up to the South Sudanese to make a wise decision or think outside the box to bring peace, stability and prosperity in their young nation.


NOTE: The views expressed herein do not represent those of  The Upper Nile Times

Gatwech Wal

The author is a student of Masters Degree of Justice and Criminology. He studied mediation and conflict management. He can be reached by email at gatwechdeng@gmail.com


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