The Regional Civil Society Task Force is a network of cultural and religious leaders and representatives of peacebuilding NGOs, brought together by Conciliation Resources, who meet to discuss regional and local responses to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict.
The LRA conflict has taken on a regional dimension, yet many approaches and perspectives continue to be state-centric. We believe that by bringing key members of civil society together from across the four countries affected by the presence of the LRA – Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic – a more holistic solution can be found.
The Task Force enables key community figures from areas affected by the conflict to share experiences and incidences relating to the conflict, discuss common challenges and agree on joint action plans. The leaders are then able to return to their communities with a clearer picture of what is happening with regards to the conflict and possible ways that they can deal with the challenges it poses.
"I've dedicated my life to peace so others don't suffer the way we did."
Bishop Ocholla, northern Uganda
The Task Force enables local people to undertake coordinated and more effective peacebuilding initiatives and help their communities become less vulnerable to violence. They group also undertakes joint and coordinated advocacy to influence policymakers.
Regional peacebuilding in East and Central Africa – challenges
Prior to such engagement, people in each country had very little idea what was happening in each of the other countries. There was a severe lack of clarity as to the reasons for and origins behind the conflict, and what was the involvement of the Ugandan people.
Practically speaking, communication and coordination across the region is extremely difficult. Transport and infrastructure are limited, and telecommunications and internet networks are undeveloped. Convening regular meetings of the Regional Civil Society Task Force provides the only way for many of the leaders to communicate.
Strengthening cross-border information sharing and advocacy
Members of the Task Force participate on visits to inform and influence policymakers both regionally and internationally on the various conflict dynamics. In October 2011 several of the Task Force's members visited London, Paris and Brussels with Conciliation Resources, where they met with policymakers and were interviewed on national French radio. They shared with policymakers the recommendations from a policy brief produced as part of the People’s Peacemaking Perspectives project.
The Task Force is setting up information sharing systems to keep communities and local decision-makers informed about the activities of the LRA.
Part of this work involved the creation of the first edition of a newsletter in February 2012, which will they will be producing locally every two months in English and French. The Voice of Peace – sharing grassroots news and opinions on the Lord's Resistance Army conflict – is helping to demonstrate the scale and magnitude of the problem to encourage policymakers to take the issue more seriously.