Sharing Experiences to Build Stronger Grassroots Engagement for an Inclusive National DialogueFeb 15, 2018
More than 50 organizations working in peacebuilding and dialogues at national and community levels gathered to discuss grassroots outreach efforts as part of the National Dialogue process. The interactive gathering was organized by the Dialogue and Research Initiative (DRI), with support from UNDP’s project “Facilitating Grassroots Engagement to Create a Conducive Environment for the National Dialogue” funded by the Government of Japan.
The full purpose of the workshop was to share experiences and lessons learnt from sensitization work conducted in Unity State in 2017, which sought to find opportunities for local engagement on the National Dialogue as a pathway to community cohesion, reconciliation and healing.
Ambassador H.E. Seiji Okada from Japan and UNDP Country Director Kamil Kamaluddeen were on hand to commend the groups for their efforts and to discuss further actions to build an inclusive National Dialogue process.
In his introduction, DRI’s Chairman praised the Government of Japan and UNDP for their support to peace initiatives in South Sudan: “The National Dialogue has encountered a lot of challenges but also lots of opportunities. This has to be recognised.”
The outreach in Unity State involved 400 direct participants in community dialogues, with 3,000 people total reached. The Japan-supported project previously held forums to support the inclusion of a diversity of voices into the National Dialogue process, including people with disabilities, minority groups, and women.
“The National Dialogue has to be inclusive, so any committees, communities, trade unions should be involved and be confident they will be recognised (…). People are ready to dialogue, and people are ready to support! It is time for us, people of South Sudan, for peace and reconciliation.”
“People are saying: “we need to have peace and it has to happen now”, DRI Chairman
Participants highlighted pending issues on National Dialogue, shared updates on status of community level dialogues, opportunities and reconciliation and healing as well as communal demands for justice and accountability. Local communities demand that national dialogues process must be credible, genuine and inclusive for peace and reconciliation to be achieved in South Sudan.
Ambassador Seiji Okada from Japan added: “Japan has announced $34M to support South Sudan Humanitarian and recovery work. Japan supports the home-grown initiative of the National Dialogue with the condition that the process is open to everyone which it has been so far; it is inclusive to all members and transparent. I am happy to note that our support is used for what it is aimed for”.
Japan also hopes the High-Level Revitalisation Forum (of the peace Agreement) will realise an agreement to support implementation of the peace accord: “Because if there is no forum, there is no agreement. It is important for grassroots voices to be reflected in the process. Japan will continue and is committed to support the South Sudan Development in nation-building”.
“No one is left behind in this National Dialogue. This process is your process (…) It is a South Sudanese process, it is your responsibility. So, make sure that it respects your aspirations, your wishes, your future, the future that is ahead of us,” said Dr. Kamaluddeen
UNDP’s Country Director further clarified that continued support from UNDP and partners would be used to strengthen platforms, like the workshop, for sharing experiences and encouraging and providing South Sudan with the relevant capacity and expertise to conduct the National Dialogue in a manner that suits the context and meets international best practices.
“There is no limit to dialogue. It is better to dialogue than to engage in war. Dialogue helps to bridge the gap between people and communities. You don’t bridge the gap by widening it, but through honest and objective dialogue,” said Dr. Kamaluddeen.
See our Guide on the National Dialogue Process in South Sudan, developed by civil society partners with financial support from Japan for an overview of the key facts about the National Dialogue and a reference guide for empowering communities to participate in the National Dialogue process.