Regional effort of conflict management in S. Sudan

By Remijo Lasu Peter (MP)

Conflict is a natural phenomenon in human society. It is a fact of life and characteristic of human relationships with some substantial benefits. Likewise, conflict is a challenge to attitudes, behaviors, and relationship between individuals and societies. Without conflict the attitudes and the behavior within the social relationships remains the same, regardless of whether it is good or bad. Conflicts reveal issues which need to be addressed for mutual benefits.

There are two main forms of conflict; constructive conflict and destructive conflict. Destructive conflicts are associated with resistance to change, apathy, and emotional outburst in personal level or with groups and end up in violence. They are often driven by sense greed and grievances, be it inequality, scarcity, cultural differences, the distribution of power and wealth.

The constructive conflicts are well managed conflict which helps people to strengthen their relationships, increase efforts, improve performance, enhance creativity, and personal development on the fact that, viewpoints of two or more people tend to differ in organizational setting. If the conflicts are handled constructively they can lead to long-term peace and cooperation. In the political arena, two adversaries can work together and begin to address each other; my brother x and y.

The United States of America (USA) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) are offering their moral obligation as the third party to manage the Conflict in South Sudan as third party mediators. Third Party means a person or team of people who become involved in a conflict to help the disputing parties manage or resolve their conflict. Normally, third parties act as consultants, helping one side or both sides analyze the conflict and plan an effective response, or as facilitators, arranging meetings, setting agenda, and guiding productive discussions. Facilitators will also record what was discussed and write a short report summarizing the discussions and any agreements reached as they usually do during peace talks in Kenya and in Ethiopia.

A more active and powerful third party role is that of mediator. Mediators, not only facilitate discussions, but they also impose a structure and process on the discussions that is designed to move the parties towards mutual understanding and win-win agreements. Some mediators take a stronger role in option identification and selection but they do not have the power to impose a solution. At most, they can suggest a solution, which the disputants may or may not accept.

The current mediators are exercising the conflict management principle, known as the “The Power-Politics Approach”. In this approach, the third party takes the initiative to manage the conflict out of concern for the suffering of the civil population. The tactics used in this regard include Persuasive arguments used to induce the parties to lower their aspirations and come to compromise because each party argued that they have a legitimate right to their desired outcome or the other party must change or reduce its aspirations.

Some Neighbors sarcastically promised economic recovery of the country. Promises are normally effective and may create a sense of indebtedness in the recipient as a person, but may cost to the country whatever reward offered, in terms of resource (mineral) exploitation. I was willing to hear about a promise of debt relieve, such that the funds accruing in the post conflict be used for development of the country, apparently, no country made such remarks.

The United States of America and UNSC threatened sanctions as a means of compelling the warring parties to come to compromise and sign peace. But it is not true that the International Community really wanted to sanction the country. Sanctions may not remedy the current critical situation in South Sudan. They are only using threats to effect change in attitude. However, threats and sanctions are normally medicinal and are more effective than promises, and have minimum costs. The warring parties emerge from rebellion; they can easily bear any hardship as it was in the last twenty one years of civil war. So the civil population will suffer more consequences than the warring parties, in terms of economic difficulties, health, and endlessly fatigue in refuge and displacement. Sanctions may also evoke counter threats, increasing hostility and escalating the conflict, if the warring parties are defended with veto powers in the same United Nations Security Council.

Others are the most opportune neighbors; moving boundaries and drilling mineral resources in the disputed areas. War in South Sudan is boosting production in the neighborhood, carried in thousands of trailers to the consuming warring nation and depreciating the local currency, while we are seriously busy entangling ourselves on neck because of seats. Ironically we venture to the same opportune neighbors for mediation. The mediators mediate in accordance with their interests. In most cases, the time of war is the time for reaping and exploiting.

Here is a short summary to note: Conflict Prevention; aims to prevent the outbreak of violent conflict; Conflict Settlement aims to end violent behavior by reaching a peace agreement; Conflict Management aims to limit and avoid future violence by promoting positive behavioral changes in the parties involved; Conflict Resolution, addresses the causes of conflict and seeks to build a new and lasting relationship between hostile groups; and Conflict Management is a way of controlling conflict before, during and after it has occurred.

The author is a Member of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly representing Constituency no.13, Morobo County. He can be reached via email: p.lasu@yahoo.co.uk


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