Following the productive discussions emanating from the past two High Level Retreats, IGAD once again held its third High Level Retreat on Mediation from 12-14 September 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Retreat’s theme focused on ‘Enhancing Dialogue and Reconciliation for Conflict Prevention and Transformation’. The Retreat provided a platform for discussions on the role of reconciliation and dialogue as tools for conflict prevention, resolution and transformation. More so, it looked at the current peace processes taking place in the IGAD region and in Africa, focusing on how dialogue has been used to impact positively the outcomes of the peace processes towards sustainable peace agreements. It further provided the opportunity for mediators and mediation practitioners to assess the missed opportunities in which dialogue should have taken place in the build up to peace processes.
In assessing the ways and means towards promoting dialogue and reconciliation the retreat focused on a variety of themes to ascertain the fundamental elements that will be required to achieve dialogue amongst conflicting parties. Of significance was the acknowledgement of the key role that religious leaders and religious institutions play in promoting dialogue as well as reconciliation. Some of the key highlighted points that were raised included: the need for in depth conflict analysis to ensure that conflicts are well understood and therefore better managed; the need for political will to foster national and regional dialogue; the documentation and utilisation of good practices on dialogue and reconciliation; developing a curriculum on reconciliation and dialogue; and highlighting the vital role that women and youth play in dialogue and reconciliation, among others. The participants highlighted the importance of overcoming the past and trauma healing as crucial in the prevention of future conflicts.
The discussions during the Retreat also contributed towards developing a reconciliation framework and a dialogue index for the IGAD region. Going forward, IGAD will undertake further consultations towards the development of the reconciliation framework that will guide member states in reconciliation initiatives in the IGAD region. ACCORD will continue to work alongside and support IGAD towards the development of the framework, the dialogue index and other capacity building initiatives towards conflict prevention and transformation in the East and Horn of Africa.