The role of civil society in promoting peace and security.
As part of its efforts to support the ongoing work of the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to Yemen (OSESGY), the European Institute of Peace (EIP) convened a large and representative gathering of civil society leaders from across the south of Yemen in Amman on the 10-11 October 2018. Over the course of the two-day meeting the participants examined the situation in the south and the challenges faced by CSOs in carrying out their respective mandates and their contribution to peace-making activities. The participants discussed, at length how to address the identified challenges, including through increased and improved coordination amongst civil society on how they can, ultimately, make a positive contribution to the ongoing official peace process.
The participants (25, including 10 women) voiced the following concerns and put forward a series of recommendations culminating in this consensual statement which outlines a vision for how they can contribute to peace and security in southern Yemen.
- Weakness of coordination and synergies amongst peace makers across the south;
- Achieving peace in an economically unequal society has proven very difficult;
- Lack of opportunity in employment for civilians is fueling conflict and empowering armed groups;
- Schools have closed because teachers’ salaries do not allow them to make a living;
- Lack of Civil society empowerment has weakened the role of CSOs and some have been influenced by political events;
- No meaningful representation of the south in the peace process;
- The depreciation of the Yemeni Riyal has led to spiraling costs for basic goods, leading to issues of survival;
- No economic empowerment programs to develop livelihoods (benefits armed groups);
- Limited revenues being deposited in weak Central Bank has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the provision of basic services;
- Need to address structural issue of inefficient governance structures and associated levels of corruption – even within certain CSOs;
- CSOs lack capacity and the finances to successfully implement programs or to engage in new pressing peace advocacy work;
- Industries, such as oil, gas, agriculture and fishing have stagnated, leading to unemployment and a drop in living standards;
- Media landscape is dominated by political groups with specific political agendas. Some CSOs lack media outlets to convey their messages;
- Coordination between CSOs poses a series of challenges, including inadequate funding and resources and competition. The majority of civil society resources are concentrated in the north.
- Unify the vision of peace across the south;
- Diversified political representation of the south in all future peace talks;
- Encourage local enterprises and products, rather than imports, to stimulate local economy;
- Teach people to support themselves, rather than accepting aid (sustainable development);
- Encourage weapons- free zones (has shown success in Hadramaut);
- Advocate and lobby those in power with messages from constituents for peace – bridge gap between society and govt;
- Rehabilitation and empowerment that focusses on youth leaders, women, and marginalized groups. Collaborate with educational and religious institutions to get the message across;
- Secure specialized programs to build capacity of local CSOs;
- Ensure basic service provision to reduce social tension and suffering;
- Awareness raising campaigns to advocate for peace-making efforts by CSOs;
- Establish mechanisms for CSO coordination to help tackle our concerns together:
- Establish an independent body to coordinate various efforts to promote peace;
- Structure with Board of Directors and Supervisory Board;
- Obtain the support of broad coalition of civil society;
- Coordination branches for civil society in each governorate in the south;
- Establish a strategic plan to identify role and objectives of coordination body;
- Build and strengthen ties with UN OSESGY, international organizations and local authorities to promote the peace-making work of CSOs.