Maada Bio Pays Last Respects To Remains Of Flood Victims
Maada Bio Greeting Clergy at the Funeral of Flood Victims
Flood Victims Being Laid To Rest
President Of Liberia, President and Vice President of Sierra Leone Pay Last Respects To The Flood Victims
Maada Bio, his Wife and Alie Kabba at the burial site of the flood Victims
MAADA BIO HIGHLIGHTS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LOCAL MEDIATORS IN THE SIERRA LEONE CIVIL WAR PEACE SETTLEMENT
In his academic presentation titled “Civil War Peace Settlement in Sierra Leone: The Role of Local/Insider Mediators” the Senior Research Fellow of the University of Bradford stated “This paper seeks to address a gap in the scholarship on the Sierra Leone civil war by examining the role of local and regional actors and agents in facilitating and supporting the process of peacemaking that brought about an end to the civil war. I proceed from the premise that scholarship on the Sierra Leone civil war has unduly focused on the importance of international actors in agenda setting, conflict mediation, and implementation of peace agreements. I submit that looking at the peacemaking process in the Sierra Leone civil war strictly from this perspective ignores the depth and complexity of the process. The impression that violent and complex civil conflicts such as that which occurred in Sierra Leone can be resolved by a simple, uni-dimensional agreement arbitrated by international interveners does not adequately account for the complex and multidimensional engagements that involved local actors who at levels facilitated the peace process and eventual peacebuilding.”
The Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio who also holds both a Bachelor and Masters Degrees in International Affairs, in his presentation, established the old model of peace making in Africa “In the 1990s especially, there was worldwide optimism that intra-state conflicts in Africa could be settled often through third party intervention with an implied or overt threat of coercive military intervention, diplomatic isolation, or punishing sanctions for parties that sought to reject the peace process.” But the Former Head of State went on “As protracted intra-state conflicts continued to defy this model, theoreticians and practitioners started shifting their thinking away from liberal peace models to exploring the significant contributions of multiple actors and especially of local and regional actors to peacemaking processes. Acknowledging that local voices engaged in peace initiatives are sometimes complimentary or opposed to international peace support initiatives, there is a recognition that these local initiatives are driven by unique motives and deal with values and outcomes to which international institutions do not always cater.”
In an attempt to give a background of the Sierra Leone civil war, the Senior Research Fellow spoke about the literature on the causes of the civil war and also examined the typologies of violence during the war which brought untold sufferings on Sierra Leone. Recalling the significant role played by early local actor initiatives, the Former Head of State spoke about some of the initiatives: the Soro-Gbema Peace Overture, encouraged in 1994 by NPRC, which included Soro-Gbema Chiefs and Community Leaders who sanctioned engagements with the RUF; the National Coordinating Committee for Peace, NCCP, formed as an umbrella coalition of civil society and trade union organizations to kickstart peaceful dialogue through public sensitization and workshops on the need to strategically alter/change public rhetoric about the insurgents and insurgency as a way of encouraging the insurgents to engage with the sovereign authority of the state; and the Interfaith Contact Groups such as the Supreme Islamic Council and Council of Churches in Sierra Leone which made many efforts to drive home the need for a negotiated end to the war.
A very important aspect which Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio also highlighted in his presentation was the role of women and women organisations in the peace settlement. He specifically mentioned of how an ill-fated 1995 venture of a group of “mothers, sisters, and wives” went disastrously wrong when rebels abducted or executed the entire voluntary party of women who had ventured into rebel held territory to establish contact with them on peace. The Former Head of state cited the Sierra Leone Women’s Movement for Peace (SLWMP) which was a broad coalition of women’s groups with strategies such as appeals to government and rebels, marches, prayer rallies, and meetings with government and the international community in order to apply pressure for a negotiated solution. The Senior Research Fellow also spoke about many other Civil Society Groups and Humanitarian Agencies which either established contacts and tried building confidence between the two adversaries or also facilitated discreet and open engagements between representatives of the two groups.
Despite all the significant efforts by local mediators, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio highlighted one of the challenges the local mediators faced “While all these organizations and civil society groups were all active in mobilizing public opinion in favour of peace and democratization they were neither formally recognized as part of a larger civil society initiative and were largely ignored for external third party talks organized by third parties and supported by sub-regional bodies and the international community”.
In concluding his presentation, the Former Head of State who was involved in laying the foundation for the peace settlement emphasised the significance of local mediators “At several points in the history of the Sierra Leone conflict, various governments tended to depend on local actors in establishing communal justice mechanisms, facilitate participation in the county’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, helping create the atmosphere for participation in democratic processes and guarantee non-retributive community reconciliation which had a strong impact on eventual demobilization of combatants and the resettlement of displaced persons. Understanding local actors and their role in civil war peace settlement can help to mitigate threats, harmonize outcomes, and thus lead to the construction of a more robust and sustainable peace infrastructure. Certainly, external actors play a pivotal role in peacemaking using political, diplomatic, economic and other resources to enhance mediation efforts. However, as Whitfield (2010) affirms, ‘in all cases, a lasting settlement is likely to depend on the achievement of a relatively unified external involvement in addition to local ownership by relevant social and political actors’(p. 5).”
After the presentation there was a question and answer session during which the Former Head of State impressed many scholars, academics, students and participants with his wealth of experience on the civil war peace settlement in Sierra Leone.
In a panel discussion during the conference in which he was asked about his diplomatic engagements to facilitate the peace process as Head of State, Rtd. Brig. Julius Maada Bio spoke about his flurry of diplomatic activities in 1996 when he held talks with other Heads of States - President Sani Abacha of Nigera, President JJ Rawlings of Ghana, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and President Henri Konan Bedie of Ivory Coast – which laid the foundation for the start of the Peace Process. The full text of the Research Paper will be made available to the public in due course.
Credit: Julius Maada Bio Media and Communications Team