Conflict Management Training for Youth Peacebuilders in Southern Africa

ACCORD, in partnership with the African Union (AU) Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) initiative conducted a virtual Conflict Management Training for Youth Peacebuilders in Southern Africa from 19 – 20 August 2021. Dr Martha Mutisi, using her 15 years of garnered experience in peace and security, facilitated this training for young Africans to learn more about capacity building and conflict management at the local level.

Drawing on recent conflicts within the region, the training highlighted the multi-layered nature of conflict and the need to conduct a conflict analysis to gain a deeper understanding of its history. To elaborate further on this point, Dr Mutisi referred to a quote by Johan Galtung (1997) which read: “Conflict is a normal, and even a healthy part of relationships and human interaction. When conflict is constructively managed, it can help to maintain vigorous, resilient, and creative people, organisations, communities, states and entities. It is therefore important not only to identify the negative, but the positive changes that are created by conflict, and to do this, conflict analysis is required”.

As the training progressed, participants were introduced to different conflict handling styles: avoiding, accommodation, competing, collaborating, and the compromise style.  Participants were thereafter able to identify the linkages between the styles and the current conflicts occurring within the continent, in particular, how conflicts that occurred in Eswatini, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and South Africa could be equated to the style of avoidance. Conflict was also understood to have the ability to transform social structures, particularly gender roles. The platform allowed for women to shift their thinking from thoughts of burden to empowerment in the sense that women then acknowledged that they can perform jobs and responsibilities that were previously assumed to be exclusive to men. 

The two-day training concluded with a review of the African Continental Youth Framework, which seeks to facilitate meaningful engagement and participation of African youth in all spectrums of peace and security at national, regional and continental levels. Participants were left feeling appreciative of the training, which was a good indication of the need to continue the dialogue with youth in the region. ACCORD is committed to promoting regional collaboration that advocates for the inclusion of young Africans in issues of peace and security within Southern Africa.

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