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Facilitating the emergence of deep, lasting peace
March 16, 2010

Africa Synod Proposal 21, Peace:

“As peace is a universal good, depending on respect for everyone’s human rights and all creation, we should dedicate all of our energies to its service. The Synod therefore proposes that:

  1. An African Peace and Solidarity Initiative be established to intervene in an act of solidarity and assist the local church in conflict resolution and peace-building throughout the continent with its wise counsel on justice, peace and reconciliation. This initiative will draw on those within our church who have experience, integrity and the respect of others. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace would be asked to liaise with SECAM (Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar) to promote this initiative;
  2. Diocesan, national and regional peace-building councils be set up within the Justice and Peace Commission, with a counterpart on the continental level, established to liaise with the African Peace and Solidarity Initiative at SECAM;
  3. These peace-building councils should be well resourced with personnel and material to train the clergy and laity in the practice of peace-building, dialogue and mediation;
  4. Justice and peace commissions, at the national and regional level, set up a monitoring desk for the prevention and resolution of conflicts;
  5. Small groups and programs of formation be developed which are suitable for each level (primary, secondary, college and university) to impart a real culture of peace;
  6. Seminary formators follow a course which would include peace studies and conflict resolution;
  7. A permanent organization for inter-ethnic dialogue be established for the sake of a lasting peace;
  8. Prayer for peace and elections.”

As shown above, the Africa Synod was clear in its commitment to ending violent conflict on the continent and to facilitating the emergence of a deep and lasting peace.

One important effort in which the Catholic church has joined with others to promote peace is the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), which includes Muslim, Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox leaders working together for peace and development in Uganda. The ARLPI has been directly involved in a number of important peace initiatives in the past few years including the Ugandan Amnesty Act, mediation of the Juba peace talks, and the creation of a nonviolent community of support that reaches beyond religious groupings.

Despite relative calm in northern Uganda, the ARLPI continues to push for a new peace process in light of recent atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central Africa Republic (CAR).

IKV Pax Christi, a section of the international Catholic peace movement, has also been involved in work for peace in Northern Uganda and has supported the work of the ARLPI.

In 2005, both the LRA and the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) asked IKV Pax Christi to act as mediator. In 2006, the Ugandan government agreed and IKV Pax Christi helped mediate peace talks in Juba between the LRA and President Museveni’s government. Despite apparent progress in the talks, in the end LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to show up to sign the agreement. (See this article in the May-June 2007 issue of NewsNotes.)

In April 2009, IKV Pax Christi published a report on the LRA entitled How Enlightening is the Thunder? Based on past Ugandan military attempts and Operation Lighting Thunder’s failure, the report cautioned against weak international military action against the LRA that would risk another humanitarian crisis and insisted that this be treated as a regional issue of high importance. IKV Pax Christi called on the government of Uganda to make the Juba peace agreement a top priority and to implement the Northern Uganda Peace Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP).

In February 2010, the Archdiocese of Kisangani (DRC) and IKV Pax Christi organized an international conference of religious leaders on the issue of the LRA. Religious leaders from Uganda, Sudan, Congo, DRC and the CAR reached out to affected communities to “live in hope and in solidarity;” pleaded with the LRA leaders to stop the violent atrocities; called on the national governments to protect their citizens; and called for creation of a “contact group” to properly manage what is now a regional and international war.

The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which recently passed in the U.S. Senate and is now on its way to the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, calls on the president to present a regional strategy to the proper Congressional committees. The president’s proposal will act as a guide to U.S. multilateral efforts aimed at ending the victimization of civilians and regional insecurity caused by the LRA and will address the needs of LRA victims in the CAR, south Sudan, and northeastern Congo.

The ARLPI has specifically asked that the bill emphasize dialogue and other non-violent tools in order to protect the citizens and begin the process of reconciliation. The only way to obtain truly sustainable peace is to end the violence. Currently, the bill calls for military action but does not specify the relative emphasis on offense or defense or make clear the extent to which non-violent strategies for lasting peace will be emphasized.

For more information, see Resolve Uganda.

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