Enhancing the implementation of the peace agreement through effective media engagement
The Community Empowerment People Organisation (CEPO) and the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) with support from UNESCO and the UN Peacebuilding fund, UNDP, JMEC and the Government of Japan conducted a training for 50 journalists from 1 – 2 February in Juba.
The workshop which took place under the theme “the role of media in peacebuilding” served as a timely platform to update the media on the High Level Revitalisation Forum on the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan and to increase journalists knowledge on Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in order to ensure that the public is well informed through media on the progress and violations the agreement to deter the warring parties from further violations.
Sheila Poni, one of the journalists who participated in the two-day workshop said she is now better equipped to report on the peace agreement that is being negotiated by the warring parties in Addis Ababa-Ethiopia. “I have now known the content of the cessation of hostilities agreement that was signed last year, also I have a clue on what will be discussed in the upcoming phase of the peace talks, this will improve my reporting a lot” Poni said.
Mary Ajith, The Acting Chairperson of Association for Media Development (AMDISS) said that local journalists lacks clear understanding of the agreement that is being negotiated and thanked UNESCO and other partners for availing the training opportunity. “If journalists do not understand the content of the peace agreement, it would be harder for citizens to understand it since they depend on them for information,” said Mary Ajith.
One of the recommendations adopted during this training was that media development stakeholders consider supporting participation of South Sudan independent in peace talks which JMEC positively responded by securing visas for six journalists to cover the peace talks from 05 -16 February 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Edmund Yakani, CEPO Executive Director appreciated the support from the peace monitoring body to cover the event. “Local journalists could play a role by sending facts in Arabic to let people know what was going on in Addis Ababa peace talks,” he said.
Speaking during the workshop, JMEC Deputy Chairperson, Lt. Gen. Amb. Augostino Njoroge has called on the South Sudan media to help in reforming, reshaping, educating and strengthening the capacity of different stakeholders to the understand what is at stake.
”We in JMEC acknowledge the need to promote inclusivity and popular ownership of not only the HLRF process and the ACoH in particular, but also on the implementation of the ARCSS among different stakeholders in South Sudan. The media is very important in this quest as it is one of the fastest and efficient way to enable the citizens in the country to understand this information,” emphasised Lt. Gen. Amb. Njoroge.
UNESCO’s Communication and Information Programme Specialist, Mwatile Ndinoshiho emphasised the importance of Conflict Sensitive Reporting and cautioned journalists to use the skills acquired during the training. “When a society is threatened by conflict, journalism faces greater challenges, opposing sides will try to control the media, and information can be distorted or censored. There is also personal safety risk. However, this is also, where good journalism is most vital. Exercise professional standards to overcome these difficulties and deliver news, which is accurate and impartial,” Ndinoshiho explained.
UNESCO is collaborating with various UN agencies and media associations to implement a project aimed at strengthening the role of media in peacebuilding initiatives for lasting peace and sustainable development in South Sudan.
The project, entitled “Strengthening Dialogue for Peace and Reconciliation” which is financed by UN Peace Building Fund will enhance the role of mass media in peace-building process, from merely reporting issues and events to understanding and clarifying issues and events from diverse perspectives.