The Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation (SCCRR) and the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on September 25 in Nairobi, Kenya.
AMECEA is a Catholic service organization for the National Episcopal Conferences of countries in Eastern Africa, namely Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Djibouti and Somalia are affiliate members. AMECEA led by their chairman, H.E. Cardinal Berhaneyesus D. Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Ababa Ethiopia, and the Executive Chairman of Shalom Fr. Patrick Devine SMA signed the partnership documents in the presence of the executive board members of AMECEA along with board members and staff of SCCRR. The signing of the MoU followed from an invitation by AMECEA to Fr. Devine to make a presentation to the AMECEA executive board on May 26th this year. The presentation, outlining Shalom’s rationale, vision, mission and methodology, was the basis for ongoing dialogue, exploring areas of mutual collaboration while respecting the statutes of both organizations.
Before the signing, Cardinal Souraphiel expressed his appreciation to Shalom for its important work and prayed for many years of fruitful cooperation, between the two organizations, in the task of achieving lasting peace for so many communities living in conflict situations. His Eminence welcomed the expansion of SCCRR work into other AMECEA countries. Fr. Devine, while endorsing the remarks of the Cardinal, highlighted the importance of having qualified personnel in peace and development studies to address the root causes and not just deal with the symptoms of conflict.
He gave particular emphasis to the situation in South Sudan and the request from IGAD to assist there; he looked forward to fortifying the peace efforts of the church and other organizations to achieve a conflict settlement and reconciliation between the various parties. Because of the quantity of work SCCRR is engaged in with ethnic communities straddling the Kenya-Ethiopian border he mentioned his hope to establish a similar institution to Shalom in Ethiopia in the near future. He particularly thanked His Eminence, John Cardinal Njue for all his support to SCCRR and its endeavors in Kenya from its foundation. Following the introduction of the AMECEA and SCRRR personnel present the MoU was graciously signed.
In this MoU, AMECEA and SCCRR are recognizing that peace and reconciliation are underpinned by acknowledging the past, reframing the present and envisioning a shared future between communities. The essence of ‘religious faith’ is humankind’s reconciliation with the ‘Divine’, reconciliation between all humankind, inner reconciliation in each individual, and reconciliation with creation. The MoU recognizes the important roles the parties can play in promoting the dignity of life, peace, development and the potential benefits of cooperation.
The parties desire to coordinate their efforts and collaborate closely in promoting cooperation in advancing their shared objectives in the service of African communities in the AMECEA Region, particularly among those affected by behavioral and structural violent conflict and associated injustices. In so doing, this agreement will ensure a close institutional relationship for information sharing and joint initiatives and activities, in areas of common concern and to enable both parties to contribute to the other’s programme, agenda and strategy development, to the extent possible.
In view of SCCRR’s emphasis on promoting ‘a society where peace, social justice and reconciliation prevail throughout Africa, envisioned in creating a society free of physical violence and unjust social structures, SCCRR will seek to enhance the AMECEA Leadership/Personnel by strengthening their conflict transformation capacity and impact in the AMECEA Region. This will involve;
- Augmenting their analytical skills on the causes of conflict and their peacebuilding intervention techniques;
- Providing research into the causes of conflict for local conflict transformation interventions;
- Ameliorate and influencing national development policies in favor of communities affected by conflict;
- In promoting peace education/syllabus’s in areas of entrenched violent conflict;
This MoU together with the signing of an MoU with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) earlier this year fortifies SCCRR’s conflict resolution and reconciliation impact and resolve in the region. SCCRR also places great value on the MoU’s it has with the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for Conflict Intervention (National University of Ireland, Maynooth), and with The Institute for Conflict Transformation (Queen’s University Belfast). All these agreements accentuate the quality and professionalism of Shalom in its research approach, and in building the capacity of local communities in Eastern Africa with skills of conflict transformation peacebuilding techniques, inter-ethnic educational projects, in areas which are experiencing persistent conflict for many years.
To all our associate partners in the USA, Ireland, UK, Australia and here in Africa we look forward to increasing our impact to achieve endurable peace and sustainable development. The support of institutions such as the Society of African Missions, Misean Cara and Trocaire from Ireland, Christensen Fund (USA) and the Kenya Episcopal Conference empower this impact immensely also. May the God of peace and reconciliation enlighten our paths and the quality of our analysis and work for those who most need our accompaniment.