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Revisiting coherence and coordination – collective peacebuilding in Liberia

A workshop held with the goal of assisting peacebuilding operations and determining their efficacy in the post-Ebola era.

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Consolidating peacebuilding remains a major concern in Liberia in particular during the post-Ebola era. Coordinating the multitude of different international and national actors engaged in national reconciliation is a crucial step needed to revamp peacebuilding priorities that were affected during the Ebola crisis. Recognising this, ACCORD’s African Peacebuilding Coordination Programme (APCP) in collaboration with the Liberia Peacebuilding Office (PBO) organized a workshop to conduct an assessment of the current peacebuilding priorities in Liberia through an analysis of the peacebuilding trajectory before, during and after the Ebola crisis. This will enable re-focused interventions by peacebuilding actors in Liberia.

The workshop was held from 26-28 August 2015 in Monrovia, Liberia. The workshop was very inclusive as it was represented by the Embassy of South Africa in Liberia; the United Nations Mission in Liberia – (UNMIL); the United Nations Development Programme – (UNDP); representatives from the government of Liberia including the National Electoral Commission; representatives from the UN Peace Building Office, Traditional Leaders, the media, Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). ACCORD’s APCP was represented by Mr. Senzo Ngubane, Manager – Operations Division, Mr. John Ahere, Coordinator, Peacebuilding Unit, Ms Olivia Victoria Davies, Senior Programme Officer, Peacebuilding Unit and Nontobeko Gcabashe, Programme Assistant, Peacebuilding Unit. The workshop was opened by the Deputy Minister of Operations – Hon. Varney A. Sirleaf, Ministry of Internal Affairs in Liberia.

The workshop provided an avenue for reflection amongst integral peacebuilding actors in Liberia who shared experiences, learnt lessons and identified best practices that can foster better coherence and coordination of peacebuilding efforts in the country. Peacebuilding actors unpacked the current conflict context in Liberia to identify peacebuilding priorities amongst the already existing priorities. They discussed the status of the reconciliation process so as to review the Liberian government’s reconciliation and social cohesion efforts. The workshop created an informed platform for peacebuilding actors to analyse the current peacebuilding priorities in Liberia, and identified entry points for better synergy with partners. The workshop reflected on the status of cohesiveness of the Liberian population as well as peacebuilding actors and examined ways in which interventions have been and/or can be shaped to promote social cohesion between and among groups/communities. In light of the scheduled elections in 2017, the workshop also created a platform for reflection on strategies already in place and those that can be developed in order to contribute to a conducive electioneering period (pre; during, and post-election).

The workshop sessions and topics covered a variety of topics which critically reviewed the Liberian peace process. Vital recommendations were put forward for peacebuilding actors and all relevant stakeholders to implement in order to sustain collective peacebuilding in Liberia. Recommendations for increased coordination of peacebuilding programmes amongst peacebuilding actors came out strongly as a key determinant to the success of peacebuilding initiatives in Liberia. Whereas issues of coordination remain a challenge, ACCORD’s APCP was considered as very instrumental to address this through consistent facilitation of information, engagement and interaction of stakeholders. Having a strong coordination mechanism will foster efficient implementation of peacebuilding priorities, recommendations and existing frameworks.

At the end of the workshop, ACCORD and Liberian peacebuilding actors prioritised feasible areas of engagement to contribute to peacebuilding efforts in Liberia. Thematic areas on which capacity building can be focused were identified; including highlighting areas to hold frequent broad consultations by peacebuilding actors so as to contribute to better coherence and coordination of initiatives. The workshop facilitated better coordination and information amongst stakeholders which enhance a common understanding on peace processes amongst peacebuilding actors. The level of interaction between stakeholders increased as each actor shared what they are working on and how they will come together and tailor their objectives respectively in achieving a particular goal. The workshop set the pace for CSOs to further work with the PBO in organizing upcoming initiatives. ACCORD will continue to work closely with the PBO as well as other peacebuilding stakeholders in Liberia through the APCP.