ACCORD, in collaboration with ECCAS convened a Consultation Workshop for the Establishment of an ECCAS Panel of Elders, which served as a platform to explore, discuss and share experiences and lessons on the establishment and implementation of Panels (or Councils) of Elders on the continent, towards the establishment of an ECCAS Panel of Elders.
With a targeted audience of individuals who manage, as well as serve on such Panels, the participants represented the various Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs) such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (SADC); East African Community (EAC), as well as ECCAS. The United Nations Department of Political Affairs was also represented at the workshop.
The lessons learned and best practices shared at the workshop included ownership of the process; having a set of criteria as part of the selection process; a Terms of Reference for the panel, which would largely depend on the situation they are faced with; the development of a strategy document that will be used as a guideline; as well as undertaking training for the panel members in order to ensure they are ready for deployment.
Key recommendations towards the operationalisation of the panel included: provisioning for logistics and security; adequate funding to enable movement and deployment; a strong secretariat that includes resourceful people and technical experts; a team of experts to support the mediators or panel members; ensuring stronger collaboration and support between the various RECs/RMs in a crisis situation; having good early warning systems in place with analysts and researchers on the ground, who will be able to identify potential conflict situations that can arise; developing an assessment matrix that seeks to measure success of the intervention; and Joint RECs/RMs missions, to provide innovative means and ways to handle sensitive issues such as post-election and the recurrence of violence.