Welcome to allAfrica’s Silencing The Guns series where we focus on peacebuilding on the continent. I am Mantsadi Sepheka from allAfrica and today our focus is Cameroon. The West African country has an escalating humanitarian crisis and is plagued by two violent conflicts. The main one being between government and separatists from the English-speaking minority. 1000s of people have been killed and hundreds of 1000s have been displaced. The country is also being terrorised by extremist group Boko Haram.
On our panel today, we have experts from the Positive Peace Group and West Africa Centre for Peace. Both organisations are on a mission to build lasting peace in the work that they do. From the Positive Peace Group, we’d like to welcome Gender and Communications Officer Divine Mbutoh and Derick Fuh Ne ba, a political affairs officer specialising in peace and development, as well as conflict management. From the West Africa Centre for Peace, we welcome Erasmus Migyikra Ndemole, international civil servant advocate of the High Court of Kenya, social worker and child protection advisor and founding member of the West Africa Centre for Peace Studies in Ghana.
We also welcome Godwin Kouwoadan, who’s currently the deputy programmes manager at the West Africa Centre for Studies in Ghana, and is also hugely experienced in political issues across the continent. And finally, Alberta Horlu, experienced social work and child counsellor with competence in evaluations, relationship building, and critical thinking and empathy. Welcome, everyone. And it’s a pleasure to have you all take part in the allAfrica Silencing The Guns podcast series on peacebuilding.
But before we discuss all the amazing work that you do as peacebuilders, I would like to invite my colleague Michael Tantoh to provide a bit of history as to why the Cameroon find itself in the position that does today. Michael has not only done extensive work on the developments in Cameroon, but it’s from the West African country himself. Welcome, Michael. And the floor is yours.
Thanks for giving me the platform and, and good day to everyone. You see Cameroon. Understanding the history of Cameroon can be very complex. Cameroon is a bilingual bilingual country that got its independence. So they were colonised by the English on the one hand and the French, on the other hand. So this is what happened after the defeat of Germans in the Second World War, the territories in Africa, we partition as we as we all know, now, Cameroon was partitioned into two and one part of it was attached to Nigeria. The other part was administered by the French. And as you might know, that Nigeria was a British a British territory. So consequently, the part that speaks English attached Nigeria, was being controlled by the British. So they speak predominantly English. The other part, the majority that was colonised by the French they speak French. So when they came together in 1972 they had a constitution to keep the both systems of governance aside, I should say, if you’ve studied African history and colonisation, altogether, you should know that the British had the indirect rule, the indirect rule, meaning that they don’t govern from London or from Westminster, as was the case with the French, the French government from Paris. So the indirect rule meant that the people have to choose who governs them, the people chosen and elected, are answerable to the masses. But with the French system, it was a highly centralised system. Everything controlled from Paris. So that’s that’s the two systems that we had. So when they came together in 1972 the English didn’t want the French system, though they knew they had the majority. So the English people thought that when, under a centralised system, they will be dominated by the French. So what they proposed and what they did, they asked for a federal system of government that is what was given and those were the conditions under which they came to that union in 1972. But then 11 years down the line, then President Ahidjo decided to break the Federation and created a central system of governance. This did not go down well with some Anglophones, I will call them the Anglophones, I actually also speak English, from the northwest and the Southwest, it did not go down well with them.
So since then, they had already had some agitation and some people were already advocating for a separation. Remember there were two countries that came together. So they already were saying we the Anglophones have our independence on the first of October. So which means we are an independent state, we have we have the right to form our own state. The Francophones were saying no. You have to stay, we are together now, we are a single state, we should be a unitary state. I think that’s when it all started. And then … fast forward now, 2016. I won’t go into detail with all everything, everything that the political issues that happened all through till then there’s always been this agitation. Remember, I said the separatists always existed. Now, in 2016, this students in the Buea University came out on a demonstration. And then what happened was the military used brute force on them. And they were molested, and raped and beaten, and stuff like that. And then not too long from then the lawyers and the teachers also came out protesting they wanted to their grievances to be looked into. But the lawyers, they came out in a consortium, now this consortium of lawyers is led by a guy called Agbor Balla (human rights lawyer Agbor Nkongho). He was the head of consortium. So instead of the government listening to them, they actually took their grievances to the Minister of the Minister of Justice Laurent Esso, but instead of listening to them, Laurent Esso picked them up and threw them in jail. Because they believed that the reason we having too many democratic countries having too many problems is because the federal system was abolished.
They advocated that we go back to the federal system of governance. Now the government, threw them in jail, and that’s when the whole thing started. Now, the population was not happy about it. And then the population came out on the first of October, 2016. To remind the government that they had their independence on these days, so they are a people. They have the right to choose how they want to be governed. The government responded by sending armed men … beat them up, kick down their doors. There were reports of rape, molestation, and a whole lot of people were arrested. So it started, this is how it actually started and then … now the separatists started pushing their agenda, the said, we already want, that we can’t stay with this kind of people, we can’t stay with this kind of government, we should go form our own, we should form our own state where we govern ourselves where we will be respected.
Where the governors, the people will be listened to. That’s how they started. And then remember, you have the Federalists on the one hand, and the separatists on the other. Most of the Federalists now were lured by the separatists. Now, instead, the separatists were did my minority, but when it started after, after 2016, they became the majority and now they started encouraging everybody to defend themselves. That’s why it started, it started as a lf defence thing. They said people cannot, the military men cannot come into your house, kick your door down, molest your sister, kill your brothers, rape your sisters, and then you let them go, you should be able to defend yourself, you have to go down fighting. So they started with the normal machete and stuff like that. And then gradually, instead of government listening, and actually trying to talk, the government increased the amount of brutality, the force, and everything. Now, these guys started forming their own little groups, their own little armed groups, then in this process, they were actually being supported by the army, by the diaspora, the diaspora actually contributed money, a lot of money, and sent it to them to arm themselves. That’s how it all started. It started from there. And then in 2019, after pressure from the international community, the government thought okay, they will try to organise a dialogue.
But then the Cameroonians in general, this time realised that the dialogue was actually a fake they’re (the govt) was not prepared to change. So the conflict continued, and up until now they’ve moved from little machetes to guns. Now we see sophisticated arms, like, explosives and stuff like that. So that’s how we’ve got to this point. It’s five years now and running. And right now, nobody knows how this conflict is going to end. Now, those that were separatists before, the moderates, they don’t, they don’t even get listened to now. These people carrying guns are telling, saying that a lot of people have died. A lot have been sacrificed so they didn’t go and sacrifice themselves because they want the Federation. Now they want to complete independence. And the government is now sitting with this problem. Not sure how to go about it.
What I understand from what you’re saying the different factions or the different army groups, that doesn’t help the situation when groups like Boko Haram come in, because then it creates a big mess. Am I correct in saying that?
You see that the the biggest problem is Boko Haram is operating in the north. In the north of the country. Actually, they actually three different. You have the English speaking, which is the southwest and the Northwest, where the Anglophone agitating, then you have the north of the country, or the far north, where you have Boko Haram, Boko Haram coming, and the Lake Chad Basin or Apollo all together, you have Boko Haram that’s coming up from that way from Nigeria and child attack in Nigeria, and then in the east of the country, you do have Central African Republic, big rebels, that has coming to the country and causing havoc. So the country right now is just all over the place. So it’s also difficult to pinpoint one, just one particular country. The Anglophone conflict is just one conflict, the Boko Haram conflict in the north, it’s got displaced people, and many have died and the terrorism. That’s the one the government is also battling with, then you’ve got the Central African Republic rebels infiltrating in the east. So the country’s been attacked south … north, south, east, west, you know, it’s a complicated situation.
Yah, it sounds extremely complicated. Thank you so much, Michael for for that insight.
Welcome to allAfrica’s Silencing The Guns series focused on peacebuilding on the continent. I am Mantsadi Sepheka from allAfrica. And today, as Michael said, we are focusing on Cameroon. Our panel of experts today, we have experts from the Positive Peace Group, and West Africa Centre for Peace Studies. Both organisations are on a mission to build lasting peace in the work they do. Welcome, everyone. It’s such a pleasure to have you all take part in this all Africa silencing of the guns podcast series on peacebuilding.
Um, so let’s, let’s get started with a with Erasmus, if we will, if your mic is unmuted there. Um, as the founding member of the West Africa Centre for peace in Ghana Tell us a bit more about organisation Firstly, and what it does to build peace in a region riddled by civil wars. Specifically Cameroon.
Beautiful West Africa Centre for Peace Studies is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit research, advocacy-based and policy focused organisation located in Accra. The centre provide research training and advocacy support and aim to enhance human development. So our aim is to see Africa as a whole, in peace. West Africa Centre for Peace Studies, we are working with partners across African continent. We are a member of the network of foundation, or we are the founding members of the foundation and research institution for promotion of culture of peace in Africa, which has a extensive membership across the continent and beyond. So we try as much as we can to do some trainings, research on peace and conflict Resolution, human rights, development issue, and what have you. We have a partnership with a Positive Peace Group that we entered into an agreement to work closely on a training package and an advocacy programme across the continent. Now I’m focusing on a Cameroon, we will be more proactive with them on most of those advocacy issues, as well as training youth and peace workers across Cameroon. Thank you.
Thank you so much, Erasmus. Godwin if I can turn to you? If you can hear me there. What do you believe is the role of NGOs in the work of peacebuilding?
Thank you very much. Peacebuilding is a broad process it’s a long term process, we have peacebuilding that’s must precede conflicts, and peacebuilding during conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding processes. NGOs have a lot to do, because when they play the role of mediators and the parties involved in a conflict see them as neutral, they are able to bring people together. You know, after every conflicts, there is so much to be done, there is the systems are disrupted in terms of government at the local level, trade is disrupted, dialogue is destroyed, there’s mistrust. So NGOs must bring the different actors together, especially the youth to conscientise them about the ramifications or the consequences of conflict, so that they will now embrace the peace dimension of the steps to take in resolving the conflict. So NGOs have a lot of work to do in peacebuilding process, they must involve everybody, from the governments, from the civil society, from traditional rulers, from schools, so many other stakeholders must be brought together to bring the country back to its feet, and put the right structures in place and make sure that peace and justice prevail.
Yes. I’m so sorry Alberta, the connection. It does happen to everyone. Today was very difficult. Um, I just wanted you to touch on a specific question relating to the rights of woman especially during you know, your work and, and the issues of conflict. How does your organisation deal with that?
Thank you so much for having me on this programme. And I’ll begin that, you know, we’ll see yeah, you know, when it comes to women’s and children’s rights, despite everything, and the international help when it comes to building the best rights movements over the many years, women and girls around the world are still facing challenges. When it comes to like children, women are still being trafficked, there is this says is sex slavery. And you see that women’s rights are not fully given the women are not fully given the right of recognition. So it’s a bit challenging you know with we’re dealing with and it’s like dedicated women is a bit better. But we now focusing on all women us currently we are we actually zooming in today, the OT Region of Ghana and we know a little bit of disability standing on the retention and transition smooth transition of the Gil to your child. How likely is that your child education you will see that they are so lucky. Mind some theories and fields that indicating the guilt or letting go to school is already advanced because at the end issues still ended up being married to also go end up being in a in the kitchen. So it’s a bit challenging I will say that women are … women’s rights they are not being fully given the rights to actually engage when it comes to peacebuilding, they don’t have a voice. So that is one of the challenges we are facing. Yeah.
And marking international Woman’s Day earlier this year you know that the call is still for equal equal rights for a woman as I spoke about earlier, um Are you getting enough? I mean are the cries getting to the ears of the international community?
Currently, I will say well the international communities are supporting it but we are not actually getting help from the other side. You understand we are we are basically within our community and as I told you earlier that door the international bodies are also advocating for the emancipation of the women’s rights and children’s rights. But still on the ground. On the ground there’s a lot of challenges. You see that women are being helped and being emancipated, but your voice is not being heard. You may be in a meeting, then you see the men are dominating. When you make any views, they feel like yours is not substantial enough, or you don’t have much to say. So. That’s what I can, I can see when it comes to that angle.
And Alberta, just on the political front. I know also the call is for more women to be put into ministries, the different ministries. I mean, I think Cameroon, correct me if I’m wrong is about 63 ministries, and of those 11 are occupied by a woman – only 11. What was your, in your personal capacity if you know putting more women in, in major political roles, what difference that would make to Cameroon?
When we look at our Parliament and also the key offices in Ghana, I will say we men, women are being like they are climbing, the number the percentage that used to be there. Let me say, four years ago, I think now there’s been a big increase. So what I’m trying to say is even though women are there, the women, actually they are trying to promote them. They’re trying to empower them just to hold on, often that they know that there’s a woman here, but are their voices being heard? Their impact? Their contribution being considered? It’s the challenge. That is the challenge that we need to work towards.
Thank you so much. Oh, but I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for elaborating on that. And I do hope that like all the other countries on the continent that women’s rights and women’s issues can be taken a lot more seriously. Thank you so much for your time Alberta.
You are listening to allAfrica’s Silencing The Guns podcast series on peacebuilding on a continent. And we are in conversations with experts from the Positive Peace Group and West Africa Centre for Peace Studies.
Divine if I can turn to you, can you briefly describe how your role as a gender officer ties into the work of peacebuilding?
Hello, everybody. And thank you so much for having me on your programme today. It’s a pleasure. My role predominantly is to see to it that first and foremost, our programmes, we have gender mainstreaming, and equally, especially with the conflict that we have in Cameroon right now. The Positive Peace Group is involved in training and during this training, with young people and women, we will make sure that we women’s issues are raised. In Cameroon today so many women’s groups exist, vying for peace to return in Cameroon. The process is good is actively involved in this fight. And we work with women groups. We have a radio programme access point Africa, which is one of the oldest radio programmes are focused in Cameroon, but back in 2016, the organisation that hinted on what was going to happen the country and I remember on positive on access point, we had hinted on this. Unfortunately, it went unheard. And we are where we are today.
Um, thanks so much Divine. I’m not sure if Alberta is still with us, are you there Alberta?
Fantastic, because the next question is for you as part of discussion. So Alberta, you know, how does the West Africa Centre for Peace engage with the youth and women when it comes to peacebuilding?
Given that the youth constitute the active forces, and youth have an important role when it comes to the rulership of our nations and communities, it cannot afford to take these people out. So as West Africa Centre for peace studies, what we do is that we normally engage this … we engage the youth because we know that they are vulnerable and perpetrators when it comes to any conflict or violence. So we know that talking today hearing their views, knowing what they think about anything that entails you want to think about anything about violence, crime and peacebuilding, we need to know what they feel. Because most of them, we know that they are very energetic and strong. And they won’t also afford they won’t get money if you enable to look after … to chase after whatever they want to do. So they won’t even think when this violence extremism or any other group comes to them that we want you to engage in this and do that they are really looking at the financial aspect. They don’t think about their education, they don’t look at the consequences. So we bu ild the programme that we train, we train the youth on the essence to know the essence and importance of peace. Like I’ll say last month we went to one of the universities, ??? University, to talk on the topic on violence, extremism, the role that the youth can play in highlighting or to play in reducing the violence. And because when we speak loud voices is the majority, the majority community and when it comes to the women also, we know that women as they play a central role when it comes to our families, they are caretakers. If these women are not taking through to know the importance of peace, they will not inculcate that habit into the people they train. So taking them out of the process will also be a big problem. So the West Africa Centre for Peace Studies is engaging this mother’s engaging the women, went to the churches, went to the communities, we advocating across this sub region. And I remember, we joined the International Peace Day. We went to the market, teaching the women how they can harmonise their family and as well as touching the financial base, because we know that most of the women are traders.
No, thank you very much, Alberta for that. Divine, if I can just come back to you. Just to add on to what Alberto was saying, from the Positive Peace Group side. What does the group do to empower youth and women?
Thank you so much for the question. I mentioned earlier, that Positive Peace Group is involved in trainings, involved in advocacy, field advocacy and online and radio advocacy. For instance in 2019, we were one of the organisations that worked in partnership with UNICEF, in order to identify internally displaced persons in Yaounde. And you were to train them on how to they can take back their life, take control over their lives again. And a few more I think it was in August, we equally involved go into partnership with Women’s Association in Kumba, that is in the southwest region, during which we were able to put meaning into over 150 young people, including women who formed 60% of the total population during that time. And again, in July, we started research in order to see how we can understand the degree of the effect that COVID-19 actually and the Anglophone crisis has had on the women, young school girls who are resident in the capital Yaounde. And the objective of this research was to see how we were able to come to their help, particularly girls, because we noticed that was most of these girls, they are abused within their families. And most of them they do not have sanitary pads. So we are working to see in a few days how we can be able to be partners, and get sanitary pads for these girls. We know it is not a lasting solution, etc. But that is just the first phase. Of course, we joined a women’s group like the Northwest, Southwest women’s group to call for peace to return. And talking about this. Two months ago, there was the first women convention on peace that held in Yaounde. And so far, we’ll notice equally with dismay too that the first national dialogue that was held, women were not very represented. And this is where our interests, one of the key interest is in getting women involved in the negotiation of peace. Because if we do not do that, it is going to be problematic. So generally we are involved in training in order to sensitize young people especially those are running away from war in their regions, how they can take back control of their lives considering the fact that these young people in the cities they can fall prey to many abuse. And secondly, we join women’s group in order to call for peace to return, and to see how we can get more women in a peace negotiation. And then, thirdly, research because after the conflict is going to be people are going to take by their life and we know that during conflict, this change of power when women become heads of household, how would the community go back into normalcy? This is where we are interested, we want to know, it’s not all about negotiating peace. But after the peace went to make sure that some of the inequalities that existed before conflict, they need to be sorted out and the new ones that have been created, we need to negotiate them too, thank you.
Thank you so much. Divine. Thank you for that. Over to you now, Derek as a political peace officer, just how bad are the ethno political tensions in Cameroon? And to what degree does it interfere with your peacebuilding work?
Thank you very much. The situation in Cameroon is neither and ethnic problem or a purely political problem. But we see the interplay of the politicisation of ethnicities as well as ethnicity is playing into the politics of the country. It is actually an issue of frustrations with bad governance. That is the problem. Cameroonians, they live together, they work together, the ordinary citizens, they have no problem from all the different ethnicities in the country. The major problem has to do with the politicisation of ethnicities, and also with bad governance in the country. However, at this particular point, the issues of ethnicity and political divisions in Cameroon, they are very high now. And this is mainly because of the lack of preventive measures to be able to mitigate these issues when they come up. And, of course, explains very seriously in the work of peacebuilding. Because, you know, you, you’re looked, you’re treated by what at least where you come from, you know, and especially those who are from the English speaking region in Cameroon, it’s, it’s very difficult to operate. And there is still a lot of mistrust, you know, and lack of confidence. And this is playing so much into the work of the, of the positive peace group. And, you know, for some time, the government has been so hard on civil society and NGOs operating in the region. But however, I consider all this to be a part of the failure to get a peaceful solution. In fact, we we are working very hard on violence prevention, that is where we stand, violence prevention, we know conflict cannot be stopped, we know conflict cannot be prevented, but at least we can prevent them from escalating into violence. So that is where we stand. And we know for sure, that is a very challenging, it’s a very challenging issue. But we are still working hard. We’ve been trying to do trainings, trained to build capacities on conflict analysis, because without proper analysis, we cannot be able to get good solutions to resolve these, these these issues. As of now, you know, the way things are going in the country if nothing is done about this nice isolation of politics and politicisation of ethnicities. I fear that in the nearest future, we might have complications and running back to issues. That may be we, the world had already taken a stand, but never again will such things take place in Africa. Thank you very much.
Derek, if you can just elaborate is mentioned something about you working on violence prevention, is this something specific you’re doing apart from the training?
Yah, the first issue is the notion of violence prevention. It’s a it’s a new notion that people need to people need to accept. You know, we’ve been so used to conflict prevention. But that is not working. We were doing a lot of research, research on issues trying to resolve the root causes of issues because we are looking more at the manifestations of these problems. We need to look at the root causes of these problems. What we see physically happening, the physical violence going on and the the tensions these are all manifestations of the problem, but we need to get to the root of the problem and so We’re doing a lot of research, we also try to do a lot of advocacy. And our advocacy is mainly on the aspect of peace by peaceful means. We need to adopt a policy of peace through peaceful means not peace through violence. Because even after all the fighting, we end up on the table. So our focus is on peace by peaceful means. And we are trying to get an attitude change, we’re trying to get a policy change that will be able to bring this into into practice. Thank you.
Thank you for that. Derek, Erasmus, we just go back to you now, just to explain to us to what degree the international community plays a role in helping the West Africa Centre for Peace’s mission towards building peace?
Well, let’s look at it from face sub regional level regional level, then international level. Directly we have no support from the international community or any of those sub regional or regional organisation, but their policies and some other form of documents that they released, supported in doing our way. And by so doing, if you look at in the 90s, presently the international community were in places like Liberia, Sierra Leone, and other Cote d’Ivoire and other crisis areas in the sub region. This means that when they are able to go the hard way, what Ecomog (Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group) has done, then organisations like us have also leeway to be able to engage with a population to be able to bring peace, as I told you, we have a MOU with the Positive Peace Group and we are going to enter into serious engagement with the communities. So we can only draw inference from international community and other organisations to be able to do our work. We are discussing about Cameroon today. Has the international community gone there yet? Well we can have element of international community over there. The cases is when … are we waiting for the African Union and other institutions to wait for a lot of people to die before they go. These are some of the questions that can come up. It got like a go when it’s hard and support the NGOs nongovernmental organisations to be able to do their work to support the cause.
So you are all listening to the allAfrica Silencing The Guns podcast series on peacebuilding on the continent. We are in conversation with experts from the Positive Peace Group and West Africa Centre for Peace Studies. So let’s touch on the issue of human rights. Erasmus, you were picking up that point?
Yes, I will say that I always tell people that human rights issues are most difficult issues to deal with because no nation or no country, no government, like human rights offices, but if they are not there to do the checks and balances it’s not going to be okay. We live in, in a jungle. So doing human rights work, looking, popping your nose into a face of the government and other things has always been challenge. Women face a lot of challenges. Sidelined. Where now we want that’s why gender is being on the agenda strongly to make sure that women also get to the level of men by entering that you are stepping on people’s toe. So it has always been difficult for wives to do such work but because we are mandated to take care of those areas, we make sure that we engage the women and we empower the women to make sure that they will be able to start on their own and advocate for their concerns. For the children, children’s issue are usually concerned to everyone so it become a concern. So we always try to work alongside with government institutions, such as social welfare, and others, to make sure that children’s rights are being respected.
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Godwin, if I can just go to you now, can you elaborate on what the West African Centre for pieces gender, human rights and migration programme does in Cameroon.
You know, when we talk of migration, it is mostly citizens leaving their country of origin to go to another country for greener pastures. And mostly, the pasture is not always greener on the other side. But that’s the perception. And we, West Africa Centre for Peace Studies is encouraging the youth to find alternative ways of having livelihood in order not to always take their skills or talents to other places. And the migration side what we are looking at is connecting with people from different backgrounds, and making sure that they bring the skills or competencies that they’ve acquired over the time over the years to help the country. In a case of Cameroon. We know that when there is conflict people there’s brain flights people are brain drain, okay, but we can rather get Brain Gain, that is Cameroonians in the diaspora in other parts of Africa or in in the world should be encouraged to, to come back and contribute. The conflict or whatever is going on in Cameroon can be can be resolved by Cameroonians if it is see in the greater interest of the country as paramount. So with this partnership we have with them, we are trying to mobilise the youths to view peace as very important, and bring the ideas together for the betterment of the country. And we are calling on to this discussion that all the parties involved must see the future of Cameroon as belonging to the youth. And then they come in who has a lot of talent. We know we know of lots of Cameroonians who are great people, we have a great musician, a good footballer, we have people in diverse backgrounds, welcoming medical doctors, and all that. So we are now mobilising all these people that they should come on board puts a who belongs to the Anglophone side who belong to the Francophone side aside, and then few Cameroon as one country and that they must all work together so that there will be peace because without peace, there will always be people going to other countries, and it will be affecting the development the pace of development in Cameroon.
Thanks so much, Godwin. Um, this question is for both Derek and Divine actually, on the Positive Piece Group side. You know, human rights protection is integral in building sustainable peace. What is the group’s approach on dealing with the violation of human rights and in conflict ridden country like Cameroon?
Let me begin. Yes, this is Derrick. Beginning Divine will then follow after. We we all are aware that the piece is not simply the absence of war or violence. But we know that peace has to do also with the existence of structured and structural justice in the community, or this cannot take place without the respect for human rights. Of course, in a country like Cameroon, we understand that the warring parties, the parties in conflict, they operate with impunity. Little or no respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, especially relating to a conflict. The approach of the Positive Peace Group, firstly is through grassroots lobbying. We’re trying to focus on getting communities to know their rights first and then to identify the violations of human rights and also to speak out. People need to name and shame what is not good, what is foundation. And of course, when we’re able to do this, we bring to the attention of the perpetrators to understand the implications of their actions. We also tried to do advocacy and accountability. Of course, impunity travels, triumphs on the lack of accountability. When people are not held accountable for the crimes they commit, show the human rights related crimes. You know, it’s a vicious cycle, it only leads to an increase in this crime. So we try and advocate for accountability all those who commit human rights abuses that need to be brought to book. And no matter how long that takes, we continue advocating. And, of course, we also trying to see how much we can strengthen the capacities of the civilians, to carry out protection of civilians. We hope that if people are able to understand what their rights are, if people are able to speak out very clearly about these issues, if those who perpetrate this able to understand the implications of their actions and brought to accountability, we obviously are making a contribution in our own little way towards resolving this issue. And also, I think, lastly, one of the areas that we are trying to capitalise on is the issue of naming and shaming, especially using the social media. We need to say these things when they are not good, we say they are not good. And when they are good, we say they are good. So I think this in some way is also contributing towards ameliorating the situation on the ground. Divine?
Okay, thank you so much. So just in addition to what Derek has said, you know, in a conflict situation is very difficult for institutions to function properly. And remember that some, there are som e divisions in the Northwest where, right now that services are based in the centre, that is the capital of the Northwest, they no longer function in their various ways they’re supposed to function. It actually services have been moved to the main cities. Now in a situation like this, what happened to those local community where they no longer have a central power. Now one of the things that we are doing, we are documenting, we document the event as we go because if we have to bring people to justice, you should be able to provide evidence or after that pertains to what we are accusing them of. So if 20 years later, you need concrete evidence to prove your case. So one of the things we are doing is documentation of events. A second addition again, we do advocacy and talking about advocacy here, two years ago, I was one of those few people in the network represented Positive Peace Group. We sent envoys to Addis Abeba, that is the AU in order to bring the case of Cameroon there. And we’re so surprised that when we got there, we realised that the Cameroon has no file there. So it becomes very, very tricky to talk about issues. But to have taken the issue that I think that’s a step ahead. So we are so proud of that. Equally, we call for restraint from both parties. When it is difficult for civil society organisations to directly intervene, but the least we can do is to call for restraint. Actually considering what there was talking about violence prevention, and then we’re going to encourage talks and third party intervention as what we’ll be seeing about dialogue, so we will not cease talking about it onto something is done.
Thanks Divine. Thank you so much for that. You’ve been listening to this series on peacebuilding on the continent. And we were in conversation with experts from the Positive Peace Group and West Africa Centre for Peace Studies. Thank you again to all our experts for taking the time to elaborate on issues in Cameroon. And what is being done through peacebuilding. Thank you so much. And allAfrica is of course, grateful to the Carnegie Corporation of New York for supporting our reporting on peacebuilding in Africa. Thank you so much for your time.
Thank very much allAfrica and the efforts are very highly appreciated.
Absolutely. Thank you, everybody.
Source link : https://allafrica.com/stories/202110040975.html
Author : allAfrica
Publish date : 2021-10-04 16:39:19