In January 2014 supported a then neutral coalition of 11 CSOs from South Sudan to offer an objective response to the conflict by drawing attention to three things:
- Need to see the conflict through the broader lens of a failed StateBuilding agenda and a poorly designed Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed before independence.
- Need to de-ethnicize the conflict and unite society around the key historical concerns and root causes of the conflict.
- Need for a collective but objective engagement by the International Community as well as Regional CSOs to ensure adequate but sustained pressure on the key actors to the conflict.
This initiative, however, faced a major challenge when the conflict and the following negotiations became hostile and highly dangerous for many Civil Society actors, forcing many of them to either go silent or become partisan by joining with one of the key actors to the conflict.
Based on our work with many of current and former actors to the conflict (all who were in government before the conflict) decided to slow down its support to any partisan civil society and instead sought to work privately to try and persuade civil society actors to look beyond their partisan positions and support an objective return to peace agenda. This led to a private collaboration and relationship with over 20 CSOs, while maintaining relations with all actors in the conflict, including government. The Platform held meetings with CSOs involved in the negotiation process in Ethiopia, as well as with multiple parties to the conflict. In addition we held discussions with the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (IDPS-www.pbsdialogue.org, www.g7plus.org)) a multi-stakeholder Platform to which The Africa Platform belongs, and whose membership include among other governments the Government of South Sudan.
There are three key achievements that The Africa Platform made during this initial support
- Supporting CSOs across South Sudan to form a neutral coalition to respond to the crises- The South Sudan Coalition for Peacebuilding was housed by the Platform at our secretariat for over four months.
- Working with the CSOs to develop a comprehensive analysis of the conflict which traced the genesis of the challenges in South Sudan and enabled the International community to appreciate the root causes of the conflict.
- With the support of the Civil Society Platform on Peacebuilding and State building (cspps.org) to which The Africa Platform is a member, mobilized resources to enable the CSOs engage in the negotiations in Ethiopia during the crises periods.
- Held discussions with key actors around the world aimed at putting pressure on the warring parties to end the conflict. They include the leadership of the IDPS at the OECD, The USA Government, Koffi Annan Foundation and the Team of Elders and the United Nations Development Program as well as the US Institute for Peace
- Provided technical support to CSOs who were part of the negotiation-with support on documents and negotiation strategies.
- Held discussions with different parties to the conflict with a view to using our relationships with all the actors to end the conflict.