Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Embedding Peace through Negotiations

a second piece from Stephen. This one is 320 words.

Embedding Peace through Negotiations
By: Stephen Okello


Stephen Okello is a Ugandan from the war-torn north, who now works as a programme director for the Center for Conflict Resolution in Kampala. Stephen has been involved in numerous activist and research endeavours to end the war that has raged against his people for 19 years. He is now working with Uganda-CAN.

The problem of conflict is “the greatest unresoveled riddle” in politics today. It is the great curse on society, the endemic disease lurking in the background of politics.

Human history is full of the gloomy records of war and conflict. It suggests that war and not peace is the normal condition of “civilized human society.” It is arguable that recent history is the story of wars, the preparations for wars and the consequences of war.

The most unfortunate thing about war is that it accomplishes nothing. All the efforts that go into it are wasted. I deeply wish our leaders would reflect on this before plunging our country into wars that never resolve the issues involved. Norman Angell says war is “a great illusion that pays,” yet that great illusion has very unfortunate human costs.

The conflict in the northern Uganda has turned uglier recently with the death toll rising to an alarming level, leaving the suffering of so many people. I do not want to imagine how many resources have been wasted on this war, while our people have undergone so much suffering.

However, our hope today lies in the fact that more and more people are realizing that war is too dangerous to employ and that it no longer secures the traditional objectives of human security and economic advantage. It has become clear that war cannot be used to end war; peace comes rather through wise diplomacy.

Successfully ending the divisions that lead to war, healing the social wounds created by war and creating a society where the differences among social groups are resolved through compromise rather than violently. Peace agreements provide a framework for ending hostilities and the initial guide to post-conflict reforms to embed peace.

In northern Uganda, the government cannot just contain this war anymore; they must use real peace negotiations to end hostilities, and even more, to address the real grievances held by the people of the north.

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