The CCMN – Cameroon Community Media Network has been invited by the Foundation Development and Peace to the Berlin Summer Dialogue 2018 on the topic “Strengthening Local Peace Building – Establishing the Basis for Sustaining Peace” on 29/30 May 2018 in Berlin.

The Berlin Summer Dialogue 2018 is divided into two parts. On Tuesday 29 May 2018 a public evening event was organised in the Berlin Town Hall. Rev Geraldine Fobang represented the CCMN at the panel discussion named “Building Peace through Media Engagement? The role of local media in armed conflict” alongside with Mr Nicolas Boissez (Head of Communication and External Relations Fondation Hirondelle, Lausanne) and Dr William Tayeebwa (Senior Lecturer, Department of Journalism and Communication Makere University, Kampala)

The Foundation Development and Peace sees local media as an important actor in conflicts. Some insights from their analysis

Around 45 per cent of the world’s people have no access to a free press, according to the latest World Press Freedom Index. Free speech is particularly constrained in authoritarian regimes and intra-state conflicts, where journalists face considerable risks to their personal safety. In addition, there are limited financial re- sources available to support independent journalism.

The media have a responsibility, however, to report sensitively on conflicts and diverse social groups. The spread of disinformation or “fake news” can escalate conflicts, so it is important to raise media professionals’ aware- ness of conflict-sensitive, peace-oriented journalism. Its aim should not be to steer the public in a particular direction but to foster mutual understanding and facilitate dialogue in accordance with the universal princi- ples of journalism. Local media are often an important source of information for the public in conflict settings. In many instances, they are the first to spot emerging conflicts or abuses and their reporting helps to shape opinion. The local media can also foster social cohesion by giving all groups within society a voice.

What are the challenges facing the local media in conflict regions? What are the opportunities for – and limits to – peace-oriented reporting during conflict? How do economic restraints influence confict-sensitive journal- ism? And which forms of external support may be beneficial?

On 30 May 2018 the conference “Strengthening Local Peace Building – Establishing the Basis for Sustaining Peace” continues to discuss questions of how local peace movements are part of the solutions to conflicts.

Some background from the organisors on the importance of local peace movements

In any process whose purpose is to transform violent conflict, the public’s attention tends to focus on interna- tional peace and donor conferences, international organisations’ mediation and peace missions, and nationallev- el negotiations. Existing or nascent grassroots structures and initiatives which aim to support peacebuilding from within society often go unnoticed.

This is surprising, given that the significance of local engagement as the basis for sustaining peace was recog- nised long ago, with a substantial body of evidence to support it. Accordingly, since the 1990s, more efforts have been made to strengthen local peace structures through national-level decision-making or peace agreements (e.g. in South Africa). These efforts have attracted growing interest from policy-makers and scholars since the turn of the millennium.

Local peace committees have a key role to play in this context. They can be organised in various forms: some are officially part of the national peace architecture, with a formal mandate conferred from the top, while others evolve from individual engagement at the local level, independently of the national peace process. It is important to recognise this distinction. For international actors, the challenge is to figure out how local peace- building structures can be supported without undermining the ownership and hence the credibility of local stakeholders.

The Berlin Summer Dialogue 2018 will start by reviewing the forms and substance of local peacebuilding; it will also consider the opportunities and challenges for local peace committees. The second and third session will then analyse the composition of these committees and how communities engage with them. In the past, inter- est mainly focused on the representation of the various conflict parties within these structures, whereas nowa- days, the question of ensuring adequate participation by all stakeholder groups is attracting growing attention.

The discussion will focus particularly on women and young people, who are still underrepresented in peace pro- cesses despite having their own specific experiences of conflict and their own ideas of what it takes to build a peaceful society. Their participation is essential if there is to be any prospect of dismantling entrenched power structures in societies and achieving nonviolent inter-community relations. The Berlin Summer Dialogues will therefore look at what can be done to achieve more active engagement by women and young people in local peacebuilding and which specific contributions they can make to sustaining peace.

Local peace committees are an important element of national infrastructures for peace. But how can their experiences and demands be channelled into national and international processes? How is their work influenced by the wider conditions at the national and international level? And which forms of external support are beneficial to local peace engagement over the long term? The final discussion session at the Berlin Summer Dialogue 2018 will explore answers to these questions.

The conference is divided into four session

Session I: LOCAL PEACE ENGAGEMENT – FORMS AND FUNCTIONS

Practitioners and scholars agree that a sustainable peace in conflict countries can only be achieved with local engagement. But what do they mean by “local”? Which forms and structures of local peacebuilding exist? Where do their specific strengths lie – and what are the practical pitfalls? How can external stakeholders engage with local peace structures?

Dr Andries A. Odendaal (Independent Consultant Cape Town)

Dieudonné Kibinakanwa (Legal Representative Peace and Reconciliation Ministry under the Cross(MIPAREC) Burundi

Session II: WOMEN IN PEACE PROCESSES – HARNESSING THE POTENTIAL FOR SUSTAINING PEACE

The United Nations has been calling for more women’s participation in peace processes for many years. In reality, however, women are often still massively underrepresented, despite often being the victims of displacement and particular violence. Peace processes in which women play a key role have shown themselves to be more sustainable over the long term. That being the case, what needs to be done to make local peace structures more conducive to women’s participation? How can women be empowered to actively engage in building peace at the local level and what role should they play in this context? What kind of support do they expect from external actors?

Round table discussion

Dr Sophia Close (Senior Adviser on Gender and Peacebuilding Conciliation Resources, London)

Professor Jurma Aming Tikmasan (Board Member
Nisa Ul Haqq fi Bangsamoro (Women working for Justice in the Bangsamoro) Philippines)

Dr Simone Wisotzki (Member of the Executive Board Peace Research Institute Frankfurt(PRIF), Frankfurt/Main)

SESSION III: A LOST GENERATION? YOUNG PEOPLE ENGAGING LOCALLY FOR PEACE

Children and young people are particularly affected by protracted armed conflict. Their childhood is marred by violence, hunger or undernourishment and a lack of access to education. Poor prospects and inexperience with peaceful conflict resolution leave a lasting imprint on the generation which will have a crucial role to play in rebuilding society and sustaining peace. And yet young people rarely have a voice in peace processes. In Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security, adopted in 2015, the United Nations calls for greater participation by young people in issues of peace and security. What can be done to implement the resolution at the local level? How can young people be reached by local peace committees and how can they themselves contribute to the committees’ work? What form of external support can facilitate this process?

Round table discussion

Lorraine Degruson (Leading Coordinator United Network of Young Peacebuilders(UNOY), The Hague)

Martine Kessy Ekomo-Soignet (Founder and Executive Director of URU Local Correspondent for the Central African Republic Peace Direct, Bangui)

Dr William Tsuma (Peace and Development Advisor UN Zimbabwe)

SESSION IV: BUILDING PEACE AT ALL LEVELS – LOCAL PEACE PROCESSES IN THE CONTEXT OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT

Sustaining peace is a long and complex process, often beginning only when a national peace deal or permanent ceasefire is agreed. Peacemaking (from the top down) and peacebuilding (from the bottom up) interact in complex ways. How do these processes influence each other? What can be done to ensure that their interaction is positive, not mutually obstructive? And how can national and international actors support and strengthen local peacebuilding?

Round table discussion

Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante (Chairman National Peace Council Ghana, Accra)

Dr Wolfgang Heinrich (Consultant for Conflict Transformation and Conflict Sensitive Development Work, Bad Herrenalb)

Paul van Tongeren (Honorary Chair Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict(GPPAC), The Hague)

Picture Gallery

 

Follow the discussion Twitter via #BSD18

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