COMESA Unveils Platform for Non-State Actors to Participate in Peace Building

Livingstone, Zambia, Friday, May 21, 2021: COMESA in partnership with the African Union, Economic Social and Cultural Council, (ECOSOCC) and the Save the Children International, have launched an online information sharing platform to facilitate civil society organisations in the region to play a bigger role in conflict prevention and peace building.

The platform was launched in Livingstone, Zambia by the Assistant Secretary General of COMESA, Dr Kipyego Cheluget.

The development of the platform followed a study and stakeholder consultations done by COMESA on the root factors of conflicts in the sub-region. These activities revealed that conflicts in the region were not only complex but required joint approaches to address them.

Dr Cheluget said state actors need to complement their strengths and competencies with non-state actors in the region to address the conflicts sustainably and comprehensively.

“While national governments have the primary responsibility to ensure peace and security within its borders, civil society and private sector organisations also have an important role to play, particularly being close to the grassroots, where most intra-state conflicts start,” Dr Cheluget said.

The platform is therefore aimed at enabling robust networking amongst these actors to create strong partnerships for peace and security by sharing information on relevant themes to keep the wide population of CSOs informed.

Besides, it will encourage debate around key topical issues and build consensus on the positive role that CSOs and Private Sector Organisations can play and at the same time, showcasing their work to encourage replication of good practices.

Over 30 CSOs from 17 Member States have been accredited since 2012 and have been partnering with COMESA in the development and implementation of its peace and security programme.  This includes the development of the COMESA Early Warning System (COMWARN). They also serve in the COMESA elections observer missions, with some of them providing analysis of the electoral environment in their respective countries.

Speaking at the launch, ECOSOCC representative, Mr Osei Kyeretwie said his organization is keen to support strategic partnership with COMESA in building the capacity of CSOs to be more effective in their role.

Ms. Hortense Minishi, Head of Programmes at Save the Children International, said the responsibility of protecting the children and youth from situations of conflict is a multi-stakeholder undertaking that should bring everyone on board.

The launch was attended by among others, a Kenyan delegation comprising of the Commissioners of the National Cohesion and integrity Commission and Members of the Kenya Parliamentary Committee on Cohesion and Equal Opportunities. The delegation was in Zambia for a COMESA-AU training on COMWARN and structural vulnerabilities and resilience assessment frameworks.