The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) is a non-governmental conflict management institution based in Durban, South Africa. ACCORD was established in 1992 to impact on the process of negotiation and conflict resolution in South Africa. The Institution's focus has since broadened to include the whole of the African continent, and its activities stretch from the SADC in the South, through the Great Lakes region to West Africa and the Horn of Africa in the north-east. ACCORD strives to offer innovative and effective African solutions to African challenges. Through its work over the last twenty one years ACCORD has developed a comprehensive peace model, officially recognized by the United Nations in 1996 as a viable model for Africa.
ACCORD has been working with South Sudanese stakeholders over the past 12 years, and opened its first in-country office in April 2012 as part of its South Sudan Initiative (SSI). Recognising the potential for conflict between the Sudan and South Sudan and within South Sudan itself, the SSI's sustainable peacebuilding approach unites several strategic programmes designed support to the South Sudanese people in meeting the challenges of the post-independence period. ACCORD actively works at the national, regional, and grassroots levels throughout South Sudan to promote peace, reconciliation, and peacebuilding initiatives.
The Republic of South Sudan became Africa's newest country on 9 July 2011, marking a formal split with its northern neighbor, the Republic of the Sudan. South Sudan (644,329 sq. km) is roughly the size of France but has a low population density, with its total populous comprising an estimated 8.3 million. From 1955-72 and 1983-2005, the Sudanese government and various rebel groups (led by the Sudan's Peoples Liberation Army) engaged in a series of violent and all-encompasing wars. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement was forged and ratified in 2005 between the Sudanese government and the SPLA, paving the way for a January 2011 referendum on the independence of South Sudan.
In April 2011, ACCORD entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the South Sudanese government's Ministry of Peace and CPA Implementation (now reconfigured as the South Sudan Peace Commission), which was renewed in November 2012. This formal collaboration between ACCORD and the Peace Commission allows for the institution to coordinate its initiatives with and help facilitate the continued implementation of South Sudan's 2011-13 strategic objectives and policy frameworks for peace and reconciliation. ACCORD's continued commitment to South Sudan has led to the development of long-term relationships with key stakeholders, including the African Union, the United Nations, international governmental and nongovernmental partners and civil society organisations representing women, youth, media, trade unions, traditional leaders, business associations and academic institutions.
Over the first year of the SSI, ACCORD has engaged in a number of important activities, which have included: surveying and collaborating with the existing mechanisms conflict sensitive planning and development, conflict management, conflict transformation, and peacebuilding; coordinating the efforts to develop a standardized conflict management training toolkit; providing conflict management, mediation, and negotiation trainings to South Sudanese, officials, diplomats, civil society leaders, lawyers, and paralegals, and United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) civil affairs officers; and conducting research engagements related to the implementation of the CPA and local land conflicts.
The deployment of core staff for the SSI in Juba has allowed for ACCORD to garner enhanced understanding of the current environment in the country, allowing the institution's staff members to better conceptualise programme activities that are responsive to the context. Increased and regular interaction with key stakeholders and decision-makers in government, with civil society actors and with representatives of the international community present within and beyond Juba, has enhanced the opportunities for cooperation, partnerships and collaboration among the various stakeholders towards the ultimate goal of promoting peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan.
The following are areas of thematic focus for the Peacekeeping Unit and TfP Programme at ACCORD.
Support to AU long term capacity building and short term operational support
The AU is currently working to strengthen its capacity and capability to plan, manage and implement peacekeeping operations on the continent. This is being done through the development and implementation of policies that will help to further the ASF development processes, and through efforts aimed at ensuring the successful implementation of the AMISOM mandate. Within this context, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme will support the AU in the development of conduct and discipline guidelines to help regulate the conduct of AU peacekeepers. Increased understanding of the role, functions and contributions of civilians in AU peace operations remains significant. The need for skills transfer is thus paramount to increase the capacity and capability of civilians that are already deployed within AMISOM, UNAMID and civilians that will participate in ASF exercises particularly those that are expected to be placed on the ASF Roster for future AU deployments. This is based on the AU's goal to ensure that personnel deployed in peace operations have the necessary and required expertise and experience that will foster successful implementation of AU mandates.
Contribution to the AU PoC Policy process
As one of the core aspects in contemporary peacekeeping, PoC is currently a main benchmark used to evaluate most peacekeeping operations. Notwithstanding this, and despite the notable achievements by DPKO on the development of a UN PoC strategic framework, training modules and case studies in 2010 and 2011 respectively (with support from TfP/ACCORD and TfP/NUPI), there is still a need for further clarification of the concept for the role of peacekeepers in ensuring its successful implementation on the ground, particularly in Africa.
As with the UN, the AU has been challenged to give full meaning to the concept of PoC, even though it is viewed as being firmly entrenched in its legal principles and norms and embedded in its work. The current context of conflicts continues to remind us that the protection of civilian populations has increasingly become a key driver in decision-making processes - more specifically in the conduct of international interventions. Thus, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme will focus on the need to strengthen the AU's understanding and implementation of PoC in peacekeeping through supporting the development of an AU draft guidelines on PoC and will encourage due reference to the work done by the UN on the same.
The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme also intends to capture the experience of the implementation of PoC in Africa. As a result, it has dedicated the TfP special issue of the ACCORD Conflict Trends magazine to PoC in Africa. The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme will also support the AU and AMISOM In Mainstreaming PoC Considerations into the Operations of the AMISOM, as directed by the AU Peace and Security Council.
Support to the AU Conduct & Discipline (C&D) Guidelines development process
The AU has recognised the need for comprehensive guidelines to regulate the general conduct and professionalism of its peacekeepers. This is currently a priority for the AU to ensure the professional conduct of its peacekeepers. This is based on the fact that any challenge on the conduct of peacekeepers in countries and communities they are deployed can affect the credibility of a mission. Thus, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme is supporting the AU in ensuring the establishment of a conduct and discipline mechanism to ensure proper guidance for AU peacekeepers to regulate their professional conduct whilst serving under the AU umbrella.
Contribution to the UN Civilian Capacity process
The roles and functions of civilians in post-conflict situations have become a central issue in relation to the implementation of mandates and in supporting host populations in building sustainable peace. As a result of its long standing peacekeeping experience and the numerous lessons, the UN is currently undertaking an initiative that aims to further strengthen the role of civilians in UN peacekeeping operations. Developing countries, including South Africa, Brazil, and India, which are also troop and police contributing countries, have taken the lead in this process to ascertain how they can contribute to the provision of the needed civilian capacities for UN peacekeeping operations. The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme is part of a Civilian Capacity Network that aims to assess the potential role of these countries in the development and contribution of the much needed civilian capacities and in clarifying how Member States will facilitate the deployment of their civilian personnel for UN peacekeeping operations. The network includes institutions from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Norway, Russia, South Africa and Turkey.
Contribution towards the provision of clearer guidance for Civil Affairs Officers in the field
Civil Affairs are currently one of the main civilian components within peacekeeping operations. Its relevance has increased in various missions as a result of its strategic positioning in the field at the local level and its roles and functions in conflict management, confidence building and support to the extension of state authorities. In missions like the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Civil Affairs gained a central role in leading the mission's work on conflict management to manage and resolve the protracted conflicts in some communities. There is a strong need for clarity of the contexts within which Civil Affairs operates. The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme thus see it necessary to respond to the needs of Civil Affairs in terms of gaps identified both by the DPKO within the context of their needs assessment and by the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme in previous interactions to enhance the professionalism of Civil Affairs Officers. As a result, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme conducts specialized tailored in-mission conflict management support training that aim to respond to the specific training needs of field missions.
The TfP Programme is now in its fourth phase of implementation, 2011–2015, and is guided by a strategic framework and goal hierarchy which place emphasis on contribution to the development of sustainable capacity within the UN, AU and RECs/ RMs for peace operations on the continent. Since its inception in 1995, it has taken action in the following areas, and continues to do so.
Provision of relevant and high quality training
In its earlier phases, the TfP Programme at ACCORD (TfP/ACCORD) conducted pre-deployment/foundation training courses through its flagship Civilian Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding Courses (CPPC), for potential peacekeepers to prepare them for deployment in AU and UN peace operations. The Programme recognised that it had limited control over the deployment of its trainees to AU and UN peace operations. However, the need for increased capacity and capability development among civilian peacekeeping personnel was still important. Thus, the Programme reoriented its training objectives to focus on in-mission training to ensure that personnel already deployed in peace operations are effectively trained and skilled to implement peacekeeping mandates.
Consequently, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme has focused its conflict management training to equip existing Civil Affairs Officers with additional and necessary tools that will enhance their capability and level of professionalism in the daily conduct of their work. The in-mission Conflict Management Course for Peacekeepers and Peacebuilders is a combination of the Unit's specialised focus on peacekeeping with the organization's specialised knowledge and experience in conflict management. It is aimed to impart conflict management skills in the form of negotiation, mediation and facilitation, to UN and AU peacekeepers. Recognising the need for tailored training to fit the specific context of each field mission, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme adapted its conflict management course curriculum to fit the specific context of the specific mission it conducts training.
The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme also supports African Regional Peacekeeping Training Centres in developing civilian and multidimensional capacities (at the continental and regional levels). This is done through the Unit and Programme's contribution to pre-deployment, specialised and senior mission leaders' training courses conducted by these centres to contribute towards building sustainable African capacities and capabilities for peace operations on the continent; noting the relevance of these skills in field mission settings.
Contribution to the establishment of a well functioning recruitment and roster system
The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme's support to the AU on the ASF, since the inception of the ASF civilian dimension project in 2006, has been on Staffing, Training, Rostering and Recruitment (STRR). The was aimed at ensuring the conceptualisation and implementation of a comprehensive approach for the development of the civilian dimension of the ASF from the onset. Since the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme's main focus has been on training, policy development and research, it has contributed to the training and preparation of civilian personnel for Map, Command Post and Field Training Exercises organised by the Regional Standby Forces (RSFs) to test their capacities and capabilities. The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme has also developed relevant policies including the ASF civilian dimension policy framework, an ASF civilian roster model, and 60 ASF civilian job descriptions and seconded the former Head of the Peacekeeping Unit and TfP Programme to facilitate the civilian dimension process at the AU Peace Support Operations Division (PSOD). The Programme's support to the rostering and recruitment processes remains supplementary to its core contributions to the ASF development processes. Thus, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme tracks and monitors the utilisation of the ASF civilian job descriptions as the terms of reference for identifying personnel for the ASF Roster at the Member States and sub-regional levels for deployments of civilians for future AU peace operations.
Contribution and support to the development of relevant policy frameworks and guidance for the UN, AU, REC/RMs
The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme's support to the AU PSOD is focused on developing key policies that will provide strategic direction for the development and establishment of the ASF civilian dimension/component, and subsequently, a multidimensional ASF. It also focuses on contributing towards better implementation of AU current peace operations. This is being done through support to the AU in developing an AU Conduct and Discipline and PoC Policy specific to AU contexts and in supporting AMISOM and UNAMID in their initiatives. At the UN level, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme's support has been towards ensuring better strategic guidance on key peacekeeping issues that forms part of current peacekeeping mandates and/or that will contribute to more successful implementation of peacekeeping mandates. An instance of this relates to the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme's support to the UN DPKO in the development of a strategic framework for PoC that urges UN missions to develop their mission-specific PoC strategies that will ensure better implementation of PoC mandate in the field. Other instances relates to the provision of support towards the development of the Civil Affairs Handbook and contribution towards the achievement of a common understanding of the peacekeeping-peacebuilding nexus as well as the implementation of the UN review of civilian capacities process.
Conduct relevant and high quality research
The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme's research is focused on analysis and assessment of the current status of the field to better shape its training and policy development initiatives and approaches. It generates reflection and offers greater clarity of realities and needs in the field through mission tracking and assessment. This informs and contributes to the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme's training and policy development initiatives. Key research themes of focus include the civilian dimension of peacekeeping, PoC, and the peacekeeping-peacebuilding nexus to generate better and clearer understanding of these issues and put forward recommendations for policy and practice. The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme publishes outcomes of its research and experiences utilising ACCORD's publications:
Women, Peace and Security – SCR 1325
The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme is committed to the development of policies that fosters the implementation of UNSCR 1325/1820 and other cross cutting issues related to women, peace and security. The Programme contributes towards the implementation of the Durban Statement on UNSCR 1325, an outcome of the October 2010 ACCORD/AU High-level Seminar on the theme, 'United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2020: looking forward... looking back'. The Durban Statement guides the Unit's focus on the implementation of the UNSCR 1325 for mainstreaming gender in its work.
The Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme continues to be an active member of the African Peace Support Trainers Association (APSTA) and the International Association of Peacekeeping Training Centres (IAPTC) which are crucial network forums to promote issues that are on the African and global peace operations agenda; as well as broaden the understanding of the civilian aspects of peace operations within the international peacekeeping training community.
About three-quarters of UN peacekeeping personnel and budgets are deployed on the African continent. This is as a result of the complex conflict challenges that continue to pose a threat to peace and security in Africa. The AU is thus striving to ensure it maintains peace and security on the continent, amidst its capacity and resources deficit.
As a result of the current conflict dynamics, peacekeeping missions have changed dramatically in size, scope, and nature. They are now often deployed in the context of conflicts within states, as opposed to conflict between states. Additional to the core security and stability functions, mandates have expanded to include enforcement of certain norms and the assumption of certain functions usually undertaken by state authorities (e.g. elections, administration of justice, law enforcement). Missions that have been created under such multidimensional and complex mandates require a varied array of tasks to be implemented by military, police and civilian personnel. Thus, peacekeepers responsibilities within this multi-dimensional context now range from:
- assisting in the implementation of peace agreements, to protecting and delivering humanitarian assistance;
- assisting with the demobilisation of former fighters, and their return to civilian life, to supervising and conducting elections;
- training and restructuring local police forces, to monitoring respect of human rights and investigating alleged violations;
- building the capacity of state institutions to protecting civilians; and
- direct military combat, to facilitating inter-communal dialogue through confidence-building processes.
Within this context, functions like civil affairs have gained importance in the implementation of peacekeeping mandates, particularly with the aim of increasing efficiency in addressing issues within the peacekeeping-peacebuilding nexus and context. Considering that the success of peacekeeping operations is increasingly judged by its capacity to protect civilians and contribute to peacebuilding, the Peacekeeping Unit and its TfP Programme thus support peacekeeping processes that aim to achieve this goal.
It is increasingly becoming clearer that it will be almost impossible for just one actor, like the UN, to be able to appropriately respond to the kind of peace and security challenges experienced within this current context. Key policy makers and researchers have highlighted the need for partnerships such as the joint deployment of UN peacekeepers with regional and security organisations; like the AU/UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and the UN Support Office for the AU Mission in Somalia (UNSOA). Whilst implementing current operational endeavours such as UNAMID and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the AU is also strategically positioning itself to deal with peace and security challenges through the development the ASF that intends serving as Africa's peacekeeping capacity that can respond to conflict situations on the continent at short notice. It is however evident that whatever model is preferred as the better option, partnerships between the AU and UN as well as with regional and sub-regional organisations need to be pursued and realised.
Such partnerships need to be extended beyond the global and regional levels to include the sub-regional and Member State-levels. This is in view of the fact that the development of the ASF is entirely dependent on the RECs and RMs. Thus there is need to ensure that partnership and support between the UN and the AU at the global and regional levels should trickle down to the RECs/RMs (sub-regional level) and Member State-levels to ensure the establishment of an effective relationship chain among these different levels to foster the optimisation of the comparative advantages of each parts/levels of the international system.