As part of its Collaborative Conflict Management (CCM) training package developed for Civil Affairs Officers within United Nations (UN) missions, TfP/ACCORD conducted an Advanced Mediation Training Retreat for Senior Civil Affairs Officers (CAOs) of the United Nations Missions in South Sudan (UNMISS). The Advanced Mediation Retreat aims to provided 14 senior/experienced UNMISS Civil Affairs staff, with advanced techniques and approaches on mediation, and traditional conflict resolution mechanisms suitable for the South Sudan context.
This training retreat will further enhance the coordination of CAOs team in the implementation of CCM processes, as well as enhance the direct involvement of senior management CAOs in mediation. The Training was facilitated by ACCORD facilitators who individually in their sessions guided the participants with their academic, practical, and training experiences drawn from practice, research and involvement in conflict resolution efforts within South Africa and across the continent.
The training, entitled 'Advanced UNMISS Mediation Retreat' was held from the 1st – 5th of July 2013 in Durban, South Africa. The training was facilitated by ACCORD's leading facilitators; Mr. Jerome Sachane, Cedric de Coning, Pascal de Rocha, Dr. Kwesi Sansculotte-Greenidge, and two consultants - Florence Mpaayei from Kenya and David Otim from Uganda. The facilitators skilfully drew out the expectations of UNMISS CAOs, and further tailored the various presentations to meet those expectations. This process led participants to discuss and explore key options and strategies in the implementation of their core civil affairs functions.
UNMISS CAOs learnt key lessons that will be useful during further engagement in their civil affairs work, and also learnt how to ensure an enabling environment for mediation to take place, which further entails understanding of the role of the mediator, the importance of impartiality, and the management of sitting positions. Most importantly, participants were able to contextualize how to deal with mediation breakdown or spoilers after peace conferences. Further, reflection on conflict management approaches presented an opportunity for UNMISS CAOs to understand the different perspectives on how to approach conflict, and engage their partners on the ground to also understand these approaches. This gave UNMISS CAOs a better opportunity to reflect on the need to involve grassroots people in understanding conflict, and support the Peace Commission in South Sudan to become a structured entity that fosters lasting peace. The training further assisted UNMISS CAOs to understand what they can do to support government administration in good governance, and also have a clearer guidance on what their focus should be in supporting the extension of state authority, and in dealing with challenges around elections.
UNMISS CAOs benefitted from the various conflict management experiences shared from Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. The experiences provide CAOs with an in-depth understanding of the CCM process and advanced mediation techniques that will be utilized by CAOs in conflict management processes. ACCORD will continue to support UNMISS CAOs in conflict management, through its mentoring support network established for UNMISS CAOs, as part of its training processes.