The main goal is to support governments and Civil Society at the national level to build and sustain dialogue platforms on issues of governance and policy change through a combination of technical support to government as well as support to the broader society to have a strong and active voice. Support to society will not be offered directly. Instead we will work with CSOs that are not publicly identified with any side to the conflict.
Many post conflict countries have no objective dialogue platforms, although many have national peace commissions concerned mainly with community peacemaking. In addition, the relationship between civil society actors and government is often difficult, making the work of civil society in these countries challenging. It does not help that most CSOs are often divided along the same fault lines as the root causes of the conflict. Therefore, citizens have no channel through which they can communicate effectively with government to ensure a citizen-driven development and governance agenda. Discussions are often limited to elite bargains and elections- with the parties to the conflict taking centre stage. They are often devoid of any national citizen-led or society focused agenda-considering that they are most affected by the conflict.
How it will work
The creation of a national dialogue process and dialogue platform with government will ensure a neutral and objective space for rebuilding of the relationship between government and citizens which will foster trust. It will also make available open channels of communication that are neutral and inclusive and this in turn will give citizens voice a chance to inform the development processes.
It is expected that dialogue platforms will lead to a national agenda that is not only informed by the actors of conflict and government, but also the citizens.
The technical support to government works best when it is discreet but targeted capacity support to the key actors during the transitional process. Individuals left behind in post conflict situations lack the proper knowledge on effective governing. By providing technical support to the government and other actors we aim to give them confidence when making decisions. In addition, technical support will strengthen the relationship between government and civil society as they work hand in hand to support the state building agenda. Core to this support is an external process of alliance building with CSOs from the region.
Relationship between civil society and governments can be antagonistic and greatly strained.
This makes it difficult for CSOs to be seen as neutral actors in policy and advocacy.
The Africa Platform Initiative seeks to address this challenge by creating a coalition and network of CSOs from across the region to act as advocacy partners for issues that cannot be raised by national CSOs. The creation of an external voice helps to put pressure on the government and allow for a stronger national voice as well. By forming a national alliance backed by a regional alliance, national CSOs can benefit from the knowledge and expertise other civil society capacity support. In addition, the regional alliance can act as an external but objective watchdog to ensure that the government and international community actors who are supporting the conflict meet their mandate to the people of South Sudan.
It also gives citizens greater assurance due to the solidarity of the regional CSOs.
A regional alliance will also strengthen civil societies’ bargaining power and strengthen their work to enable a stronger impact.