Friday, January 6, 2012

No more peace conferences!!!! (the conflict in Jonglei)

Im sure (hoping) that many of you have heard about the recent violence that has been occurring in Jonglei State of South Sudan between the Murle community of Pibor county and the Lou-Nuer of the surrounding area*. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Al-Jazeera had made it the headline of their front page. Also, here is a link to an interesting recording from the BBC Worldservice, on the current conflict
It is difficult to really state when this conflict actually began but it is certain that the the level of violence has been continuously escalating as vengeance is met revenge. This recent attack is in retaliation to this attack that left 600 (Lou-Nuer) dead, which was a retaliation to this attack 250 (Murle)  dead, and so on and so forth. The number of casualties of this recent attack has been estimated at 2,182 people from the Murle community, mostly women and children......That is about 1.5% of the entire Murle population**. This is the type of numbers you see from a full military conflict or civil war. But this is not civil war. This is a conflict between two communities fighting over identity, resources (cattle) and a lot of strong emotions. For me, one of the strangest thing about this conflict is that you can't really sympathise with either sides.
Anyways, the following is a video from Al-Jazeera, I want to draw your attention to the interview with the vice president Riek Machar, and his strategy on dealing with the issue. 


******WARNING: OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE IMMINENT.....you have been warned*********

Aside from the standard procedures to deal with the immediate threat, deployment of additional security forces and the creation of a buffer zone, the solution is one that I am absolutely sick and tired of hearing......Motherfucking PEACE CONFERENCE!!

For those that might not know, a peace conference is basically just an event where the politicians and community leaders from both warring parties come together, have a nice meal, hand out some t-shirts, and tell some wanker consultant about what THEY think the cause of conflict is and how THEY think the issues can be resolved. A whole bunch of pretty resolution and recommendations are written down....and then ends up in some file to never see the light of day again. This obsession of peace conferences basically stems from its successes in resolving some of the inter-community conflict, back in the day. Since those successes, whenever there is a conflict, peace conferences have become the de facto solution.....but it has been so long since they have been successful. The organisers typically exclude the people who are involved in the conflict, and when the belligerents are involved, they will say whatever sounds good at the time just for the sake of saying them.....people behave differently in the presence of different people?!.....that is just shocking! (anyone who has ever done a community focus group discussion will know what Im talking about).

Now of course I am being excessively harsh. Its not like I have any bright ideas to solve this conflict.....(not one that is ready to be implemented anyways) and these politicians are merely just implementing what they know......and what they know is basically whatever horseshit that NGOs and the UN have been feeding them.....and what do these people know? well....horseshit. Many of the peacebuilding strategies are created with guesswork based on the dubious information about the causes of the conflict that they extract from the community (through rubbish focus group discussions).
So basically, Im calling for an end to this ridiculous method of resolving conflict. Im calling for a beginning of peacebuilding strategies that are rigorously tested before implementation. Im calling for new approaches to resolving conflict that does not involve what is essentially a really expensive circle jerk***

Oh and lets also not forget those damn donors with their short term funding that forces organisations to adopt simple shallow projects that are expected to perform miracles......fuck you, you ignorant cretins.

Finally, I just have to add.....the UN would've probably been able to anticipate this attack much much earlier if they actually had people on the ground. The UN has a compound in Akobo town (the capital of the county where the Lou-Nuer come from) that I know is always empty. They just fly-in on their fancy helicopters once in a while to talk to the county commissioner, but never actually stay there.....probably due to security issues.....pussies.




*For a map of the boundaries of the various ethnic groups in SS, go here
** For the SS 2010 census, go here 
*** Not to say that there aren't organisations out there that are trying different approaches......but usually when there are, they are still not very well thought through and a widely based on gut instinct. 

8 comments:

  1. ConcernedinsouthsudanJanuary 14, 2012 at 1:35 AM

    If you had any idea of what's actually going on in South Sudan you would know that everyone knew
    the attack was coming and government/Embassies/the Church/UN/NGOs reported mobilizations beginning in
    mid-November. You would also know that the UN sent out troops in more remote places than Akobo consistently since the August attack (which coincided with the beginning of a new mission and a very different sense of their mandate).

    You should make sure you know what's happening on the ground before you start pointing fingers. And while you're pointing fingers, what are your "bright ideas" to resolve the conflict? Again, if you knew what was going on here you would know that there is an incredible openness to new and different approaches from just about everyone so please do share.

    ReplyDelete
  2. boredinpostconflictJanuary 14, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Thanks for commenting. And I do apologise for the crassness of this post. It was written as a rather emotional "heat-of-the-moment" type of thing and so it is excessively aggressive. 
    In regards to your first point: 
    1) Everyone knew the attack was coming since the August attack.
    2) If everyone was so wholly aware of an imminent reprisal, then why did the attack still happen to the extent it did? Your argument simply emphasises the point that the current strategy does not work. UN peacekeepers had over a month to establish a buffer zone and yet only decided to do so after the attack began. 
    Furthermore, following the attack in August, the only peacebuilding attempts that I caught wind of was a government and church sponsored peace conference.......Now if you know of any other projects/activities that took place to deal with this issue that was not just a peace conference, then I would genuinely be really interested to hear them. 
    Also, "a new mission and a very different sense of their mandate" is not a change in strategy.....it's just a bunch of empty words.....which is essentially is what the UN is. 

    What are my bright ideas? Well, I'm just a blogger. My job is to irresponsibly criticise everyone without actually getting involved in the dirty work.
    Also, if peacebuilding strategies were to be extracted from some random blogger, then that would make the entire peacebuilding sector redundant. But that's not really the point is it?

    I never said that I have doubts in the capabilities of individuals who are working on this and the various conflicts around SS. I have worked with many intelligent people with bright ideas of their own. My point is that the current system fails to promote these ideas, and if there is, there is serious lack of empirical research into the efficacy of a strategy before it is implemented. We do this in every other sector through pilot projects, so why not in the peace sector? 
    We all know the peace conference model is not effective, and yet we all keep doing it again and again. 

    So yeah, I think that about covers it. Please do share any more of your thoughts. And if you have anything more that you can enlighten us about "what's happening on the ground" then I would love to hear about it. 

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  3. boredinpostconflictJanuary 14, 2012 at 3:47 AM

    Thanks for commenting. And I do apologise for the crassness of this post. It was written as a rather emotional "heat-of-the-moment" type of thing and so it is excessively aggressive. 
    In regards to your first point: 
    1) Everyone knew the attack was coming since the August attack.
    2) If everyone was so wholly aware of an imminent reprisal, then why did the attack still happen to the extent it did? Your argument simply emphasises the point that the current strategy does not work. UN peacekeepers had over a month to establish a buffer zone and yet only decided to do so after the attack began. 
    Furthermore, following the attack in August, the only peacebuilding attempts that I caught wind of was a government and church sponsored peace conference.......Now if you know of any other projects/activities that took place to deal with this issue that was not just a peace conference, then I would genuinely be really interested to hear them. 
    Also, "a new mission and a very different sense of their mandate" is not a change in strategy.....it's just a bunch of empty words.....which is essentially is what the UN is. 

    What are my bright ideas? Well, I'm just a blogger. My job is to irresponsibly criticise everyone without actually getting involved in the dirty work.
    Also, if peacebuilding strategies were to be extracted from some random blogger, then that would make the entire peacebuilding sector redundant. But that's not really the point is it?

    I never said that I have doubts in the capabilities of individuals who are working on this and the various conflicts around SS. I have worked with many intelligent people with bright ideas of their own. My point is that the current system fails to promote these ideas, and if there is, there is serious lack of empirical research into the efficacy of a strategy before it is implemented. We do this in every other sector through pilot projects, so why not in the peace sector? 
    We all know the peace conference model is not effective, and yet we all keep doing it again and again. 

    So yeah, I think that about covers it. Please do share any more of your thoughts. And if you have anything more that you can enlighten us about "what's happening on the ground" then I would love to hear about it. 

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  4. boredinpostconflictJanuary 14, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    Thanks for commenting. And I do apologise for the crassness of this post. It was written as a rather emotional "heat-of-the-moment" type of thing and so it is excessively aggressive. 
    In regards to your first point: 
    1) Everyone knew the attack was coming since the August attack.
    2) If everyone was so wholly aware of an imminent reprisal, then why did the attack still happen to the extent it did? Your argument simply emphasises the point that the current strategy does not work. UN peacekeepers had over a month to establish a buffer zone and yet only decided to do so after the attack began. 
    Furthermore, following the attack in August, the only peacebuilding attempts that I caught wind of was a government and church sponsored peace conference.......Now if you know of any other projects/activities that took place to deal with this issue that was not just a peace conference, then I would genuinely be really interested to hear them. 
    Also, "a new mission and a very different sense of their mandate" is not a change in strategy.....it's just a bunch of empty words.....which is essentially is what the UN is. 

    What are my bright ideas? Well, I'm just a blogger. My job is to irresponsibly criticise everyone without actually getting involved in the dirty work.
    Also, if peacebuilding strategies were to be extracted from some random blogger, then that would make the entire peacebuilding sector redundant. But that's not really the point is it?

    I never said that I have doubts in the capabilities of individuals who are working on this and the various conflicts around SS. I have worked with many intelligent people with bright ideas of their own. My point is that the current system fails to promote these ideas, and if there is, there is serious lack of empirical research into the efficacy of a strategy before it is implemented. We do this in every other sector through pilot projects, so why not in the peace sector? 
    We all know the peace conference model is not effective, and yet we all keep doing it again and again. 

    So yeah, I think that about covers it. Please do share any more of your thoughts. And if you have anything more that you can enlighten us about "what's happening on the ground" then I would love to hear about it. 

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  5. boredinpostconflictJanuary 14, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    Thanks for commenting. And I do apologise for the crassness of this post. It was written as a rather emotional "heat-of-the-moment" type of thing and so it is excessively aggressive. 
    In regards to your first point: 
    1) Everyone knew the attack was coming since the August attack.
    2) If everyone was so wholly aware of an imminent reprisal, then why did the attack still happen to the extent it did? Your argument simply emphasises the point that the current strategy does not work. UN peacekeepers had over a month to establish a buffer zone and yet only decided to do so after the attack began. 
    Furthermore, following the attack in August, the only peacebuilding attempts that I caught wind of was a government and church sponsored peace conference.......Now if you know of any other projects/activities that took place to deal with this issue that was not just a peace conference, then I would genuinely be really interested to hear them. 
    Also, "a new mission and a very different sense of their mandate" is not a change in strategy.....it's just a bunch of empty words.....which is essentially is what the UN is. 

    What are my bright ideas? Well, I'm just a blogger. My job is to irresponsibly criticise everyone without actually getting involved in the dirty work.
    Also, if peacebuilding strategies were to be extracted from some random blogger, then that would make the entire peacebuilding sector redundant. But that's not really the point is it?

    I never said that I have doubts in the capabilities of individuals who are working on this and the various conflicts around SS. I have worked with many intelligent people with bright ideas of their own. My point is that the current system fails to promote these ideas, and if there is, there is serious lack of empirical research into the efficacy of a strategy before it is implemented. We do this in every other sector through pilot projects, so why not in the peace sector? 
    We all know the peace conference model is not effective, and yet we all keep doing it again and again. 

    So yeah, I think that about covers it. Please do share any more of your thoughts. And if you have anything more that you can enlighten us about "what's happening on the ground" then I would love to hear about it. 

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  6. ConcernedinsouthsudanJanuary 14, 2012 at 4:46 AM

    1)    
    Agreed, but they didn’t know when it would happen. When
    there was mobilization and an attack was actually imminent- three full months
    after the August attack- it was widely reported.


    2)    
    The UN did
    put troops in the “buffer” area immediately after the August attacks and kept
    rotating them through areas far more remote than Akobo. Around October their
    military helicopter contingent went on strike after being harassed by the
    SPLA/SSPS one too many times without a response from the UN/GoSS. So they were
    quite seriously limited when the attack was imminent but they did proactively
    deploy to Likongole, Gumruk, and reinforce in Pibor. All too little, too late
    but a sea change from last year’s fiascos in Kadugli and Abyei.


    I’m
    no UN cheerleader but when it’s your staff, colleagues, friends sheltering
    inside those UNMIS(S) bases the difference from July 9th seems quite
    meaningful. In Kadugli the UN let SAF enter their compound and drag people out.
    In Pibor the UN sent its troops out to support the SPLA’s defense of the SPLA
    camp where civilians were sheltering. So while I largely agree the UN is a
    bunch of empty words and bullshit, this time they got a few things right and
    there are a lot of people in Jonglei who have the UN to thank for being alive
    right now.


     


    3.
    And the Church peace process, not a conference but a lengthy, large scale
    process. It was supposed to be different- it was requested/sanctioned by the
    President (depending on whose version one listens to). And if we remember the
    glory days of peace conferences, it was Kiir from the SPLA who went to Wunlit
    and protected/sanctioned that conference so having him behind it meant something
    to people. It was supposed to be bigger “all Jonglei”. It was supposed to do a
    lot of things it didn’t- including bringing peace.


    However,
    something new is in the works and it looks quite different than anything tried
    before.


     


    4. I
    fully acknowledge the blog-vent but if you do have bright ideas you should
    share them. Especially on this issue because the door is open (at least for the
    next few weeks) and there is political will and money to do something different,
    at least this time the system isn’t stacked against different ideas for how to
    stop conflict in Jonglei. But if you don’t have them and you just see what doesn’t
    work and want to vent about it, well we all do that all the time…

    ReplyDelete
  7. boredinpostconflictJanuary 14, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Again, thank you for responding. You obviously have some very valued insights on to whats happening on the ground regarding UNMIS and I do appreciate you sharing. 

    In regards to UNMIS, I would like to say that I am not critical of what they have done in response to the violence, but rather, the slow response in which it occurred. As you have pointed out, this may be due to the helicopter contingent going on strike. Aerial support goes a long way in monitoring movements of an attack. 

    But I would be a bit hesitant to really commend the UN for doing what they are supposed to be doing anyway and applauding them for not completely messing it up. Comparing it to what happened in Kadugli last year is also not a fair comparison, or a sign of improvement. UN troops were at a much greater risk when they were faced with a fully trained, capable and equipped military force as opposed to the current situation where they are essentially just dealing with civilians with automatic weapons. I'm just not about ready to start handing out any medal of honours just yet. 

    In regards to the 'peace process' (calling it a process is really just a way of signalling an attempt without implying much commitment to success);

    This is exactly my point. While peace conferences in the past (e.g. Wunlit), saw great success as a result of the inclusion of significant stakeholders, especially high government officials who helped ensure that the resolutions and recommendations were addressed. However, today, there is a saturation of formulaic peace conferences that do not really bear much weight behind it and are therefore essentially useless. 

    So what is this thing that is in the works that you speak of? Because I would love nothing more than to be wrong. If I am wrong, then that means we might see some progress in dealing with this issue. 

    I appreciate that someone just complaining and not providing a solution is annoying and not productive whatsoever. And I get the feeling that this is probably the reason why you want to disagree with me.......In reality you kind of do agree with some of my points, but because Im such a dick about it, you felt the need to challenge it (I would have definitely done the same). 

    Personally, I am in the process of writing some proposals as we speak and if what you say is true about political will and money, I should be receiving support for them to be implemented soon. 
    However, as I would like to keep this post anonymous (so that I can keep acting like a dick without fear of repercussions), I can't really share too much with you. Sorry. 

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  8. Powerone Inverter  peace and conflict is like a coin. Can't be able to separate because they go together. There will be no peace perform if there is no conflict and vice versa. Thank you for posting.  I learn a lot from you about peace and conflict.

    ReplyDelete