Peace and Security (Human Rights protection and vulnerable groups support).
Growing polarization, tensions, protests, demonstrations, civil unrest & insecurity in the East Africa region, make conflict management and peace building an emerging area of concentration for EACSOF and its member CSOs. Conflicts often arise as a result of perceived or real marginalization, domination and exclusion. Threats to peace and security are also fuelled by religious extremism, terrorism, ethnic violence armed conflict and class tensions mainly between the urban well to do and the increasing numbers of peasantry and jobless youths. These threats call for urgent intervention. Because CSOs are neutral they are well positioned to broker peace and mend relationships between conflicting parties as well as tackle issues of marginalization, domination and exclusion. This presents the opportunity for CSOs to develop dialogue and negotiation facilitating competencies.
The explosion within the region of a youthful and fairly well educated but unemployed population is also a major challenge and is linked to the high rates of crime in the region. East Africa is estimated to have the highest number of jobless youth on the continent. For instance, in Uganda, a recent census shows that approximately 260,000 universities graduates are jobless. CSOs should take the lead in addressing this youth unemployment challenge. Incessant conflict displaces people and renders them as either internally displaced or permanent refugees and hence stateless in other nations.
Despite protracted efforts by both States and Civil Society in addressing Peace and Security in East Africa, on-going conflict in the EAC PS still undermine this peace. This can slow the integration process, in areas such as investment and trade. The porous nature of the East African borders, events in any Partner State either affect or influence events in other partner states. This therefore calls for collective action by the EAC partner states and CSCOs in order to guarantee sustainable peace. This also resonates with the EAC Treaty (Article 124) which aims to nurture a culture of peaceful co-existence and conflict management and resolution.
Overall objective 2: To promote peace and peaceful co-existence among the peoples of East Africa by underscoring the Rights Based Approach in all EAC initiatives.
Strategies for Action on Peace and Security:
Through this thematic area focus shall be placed on enhancing the capacities of EAC CSOs to operationalize existing mechanisms for early warnings on violence and insecurity. Draw lessons from the ECOWAS model on peace building and conflict management, which empowers and facilitates civil society to take a leading role in monitoring and feedback on EWS and peace brokerage, including the unique role of women in peace building and conflict transformation. Develop practical conflict resolution and disaster management competencies and preparedness in the EAC beyond military approach;
EACSOF, through its membership, will conduct studies and promote sourcing for up-to-date information on underlying causes and drivers of conflict, in order to demystify peace and security in the EA region. Based on quality information CSOs will work in collaboration with the EAC to improve the mapping of likely scenarios and EWSs for pro-active interventions that safeguard the EAC against erosion of peace, security and stability, especially before elections. EACSOF shall be resolute in underlining the challenges to peace and stability in the short and long run that emerge from leaders clinging onto power and deny other citizens their democratic rights of free and fair competition;
EACSOF will promote think tanks to engage in the redefinition of the meaning of peace and security; how the national organs – police, intelligence and armies are funded and deployed; and how they exercise their mandate to promote and safeguard peace or security and what new opportunities ushered in by the EAC integration agenda;
East African CSOs will take the initiate to challenge political leaders that abuse political offices so that they are held accountable for their deeds, which may entail re-course to the ICC, the African Court on People’s and Human Rights and the EACJ;
There is need to socialise decisions taken at the AU to both the EAC and national levels. EACSOF will direct its advocacy efforts towards national parliaments so that they both legislate and budget for peace operations. It will also emphasise the need for more effective control of small arms and light weapons. Emphasis will be placed on the role of SALW in fuelling domestic violence and violence against women and children;
Cultural music, dance and drama offer unique techniques for confronting tense situations and difficult subjects without sparking off violent reactions. East African CSOs will take an active role in regional and continental cultural exchange through music, dance and drama aimed at promoting social cohesion and peace building;
Overall CSOs will advocate for improved livelihoods, reducing poverty, creating employment for the youth and better preservation, equitable access and more sustainable use of natural resources, hence leading to reduction in resource based conflicts in the region. There is need to advocate for sustainable management of the Environment and Natural Resources since they are one of the major causes of conflicts at all levels.
EACSOF will seek to undertake concrete and well-researched reports and policy options for enhancement of sustainable peace and security in East Africa and Come up with a CSOs Tool Kit on Early Warning System that directs on how to report the warnings and HR violations, moreover carry out gender analysis of the Peace and Security protocol and develop a comprehensive gender and human rights training manual targeting the security sector in the partner states including the standby force brigade, police, peacekeeping forces and humanitarian personnel; Ensure equal representation of women and men in the leadership of the Standby Force Brigade and Train a pool of women mediators and election observers;
There is also need for CSOs to advocate for the right to citizenship and eradication of statelessness so as to access basic rights such as health and education.
Develop a framework for defending human rights defenders in the region.
EACSOF believes that peace and security are paramount and are umbilical to any meaningful development agenda. Through this thematic area EACSOF shall prioritize the protection of the interests of the marginalized groups and their social cultural and economic rights and ensure that the integration process does not exacerbate such marginalization.