Bossangoa is adjusting to a new era of peace. The town, situated in the north west of Central African Republic, lies 300 kilometers from the capital Bangui, where one year ago today, the Government signed a peace deal with the leaders of 14 armed groups. It was the latest in a succession of peace deals since 2013, but unlike its predecessors, where ceasefires were broken in a matter of months, this deal is making some headway.
On Saturday 23 November the people of Bougainville (an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea) started voting in a referendum on Bougainville’s political future. There are two options on offer – independence or greater autonomy. This vote marks a key moment in the Bougainville peace process, but does not mark the end of the process.
On this day, one year ago, I was in Asmara in Eritrea, witnessing the signing of a declaration ending over 20 years of armed conflict in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia (commonly referred to as ‘Ogaden’). For six years, I’d accompanied every twist and turn of these peace negotiations, and to see how far we had come was a moment of real pride. But we all knew that although this singing marked the end of the Ogaden insurgency, the hard work of transitioning from war to peace was just beginning. So, one year on, how far have we come and what needs to happen next?
One year ago, the Ogaden National Liberation Front and the Government of Ethiopia signed an historic peace deal, ending nearly a quarter of a century of armed conflict in the Somali Regional State of Ethiopia.
We were there, as we have been for the past seven years of negotiations, helping these two parties to reach a peace deal.
This film brings together some of the voices of this extraordinary peace process. Together, they tell the story of how over 20 years of fighting came to an end, and an armed group moved from war to peace.
The phases of peace processes before formal talks are marked by deep distrust, security challenges, and the need for discretion and secrecy. This results in sparse analysis or documentation of this crucial but unpredictable period of supporting pathways to peace talks. In many ways this phase remains uncharted territory compared to later phases – once public negotiations begin and when a ceasefire or peace deal is struck.