Strengthening women's peace building skills in DRC and CAR
The primary objective of the workshop organised by ACORD, Urgent Action Fund, Akina Mama wa Africa, Isis-WICCE, CECORE, EASSI, FAS and IST in July 2013 (2-4) in Goma, DRC, was to sensitize women leaders, grassroots women's organizations and peace activist from the DRC and the CAR, with knowledge and understanding of team dynamics, peace negotiations and lobbying to enable them to engage effectively in the short and long term processes of peace building and post conflict reconstruction.
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Participants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan and Liberia, at the Goma workshop in the DRC, 4 July 2013
The current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remains highly unstable, particularly the eastern part of the country which includes north and south Kivu Provinces continue to suffer from recurring cycles of conflict and persistent violence by armed groups. On February 24th 2013 the African Union (AU) alongside the leaders of the countries in the Great Lakes Region (GLR), signed a Peace, Security and Cooperation (PSC) Framework for the DRC and the region. The Framework identified the key action points for the government of DRC, the region and the international community, as well as an oversight mechanism to address the root causes of the conflict and bring about peace in the country and the region. A month after, March 28th 2013, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2098 (2013) that re-enforced the AU PSC Framework and called for a newly designated Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region. The Resolution also called for the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission to the Congo (MONUSCO) for another year that will also include an ‘Intervention Brigade' with the responsibility of neutralizing armed groups in the DRC. This was followed by the appointment of H.E. Mary Robinson as the Special Envoy of the Secretary General for the Great Lakes Region, who in turn has developed A Framework of Hope; outlining the key actions to be undertaken to achieve the objectives of the earlier Frameworks that were developed by the AU and the UN. Since her appointment the Special Envoy has visited the region four times holding meetings with leaders of the countries of the GLR, civil society and women's groups. She believes that civil society and women's groups have important roles to play to support her oversight function of monitoring the implementation of the AU PSC Framework and UNSCR 2098.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) is the first to link women's experiences of conflict to the international peace and security agenda, focusing attention on the disproportionate impact of conflict on women, and calling for women's engagement in conflict resolution and peace building. It recognized the under-valued and under-utilized contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace building. It also stressed the importance of women's equal and full participation as active agents in peace and security.
Despite these efforts from the region and the international community, the situation remains unstable, and there is a sense of resentment of the UN Intervention force, as most people believe that MONUSCO has not been effective in protecting citizens, particularly women. It is such experiences that prompt women peace activists to continue organizing, strategizing, learning and advocating for the review of peace and security frameworks to recognize women's potential and unique value they add to the process.
The workshop came up with the following recommendations:
1. Partners should continue to monitor the DRC peace talks and engage the ICGLR and the negotiators to ensure the effective participation of women
2. More training is needed for women to enhance their capacity to engage in the peace processes
3. Partners will seek avenues to offer congolese women more peace building and negotiation trainings and wil invite them to networking events across the region for practical learning from other women facing similar issues
4. Partners will continuously engage the African Union, the ICGLR and the UN Special Envoy on the Great Lakes Region, to ensure the implementation of the Peace Security and Cooperation Framework for the DRC is effective
5. Isis-WICCE and partners to develop exchange programme between the women of South Kivu, North Kivu and Kinshasa to further strengthen team building and cooperation towards a common vision and joint peace building action plans.