By Julius N. Uma
May 9, 2012 (JUBA) – South Sudan has officially launched its long-awaited national Conflict Early Warning and Response Unit (CEWERU); a system earmarked to deepen the government’s ability to pro-actively respond to risks of violent conflict in the country.
The new system, which was spearheaded by South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission (SSPRC), is directly linked to the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARM) initiated by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
CEWARN describes itself as “an indicator-based early warning system focused on cross border and interstate pastoral and related conflicts, monitoring specific factors in so far as any aspect relating to them could be a peace-promoting or conflict generating.”
Speaking during the launch held in Juba, the South Sudan capital, vice president Riek Machar said the new system is vital for preventing unforeseen circumstance that may result from conflict.
The newly launched initiative, Machar noted, provides a new approach to governance in relation to conflict prevention, clearly pledging South Sudan government’s commitment to support the conflict early warning and response system.
“South Sudan, which has come out [of] a long-running civil war, continues to grapple with multiple internal and regional security challenges which necessitate a nation-wide capacity to anticipate, and act pro-actively to prevent violent conflicts,” the Vice President said.
According to Machar, the costs involved while trying to recover from any conflict that may have occurred is usually higher than the human and financial costs incurred in preventing conflict outbreak.
He further stressed the need for the CEWERU mechanism to operate at county, state and federal levels, with local structures empowered to undertake effective response measures.
With support from the Catholic Relief Service (CRS), the national early warning system has been operating in at least four South Sudan states since 2009.
Martin Kimani, the CEWARN director described the establishment of CEWERUs is an important milestone in advancing CEWARN’s engagement in South Sudan and the wider IGAD region.
“As CEWARN transitions into a new phase of operation in the post-2012 period, its operations are set to expand to wider geographic and thematic areas of national and regional relevance in South Sudan as in the rest of the IGAD member states,” said Kimani.
The conflict early warning and response system, which was graced by government officials, the UN and donor representatives, is widely viewed as South Sudan’s fulfilment of its obligation as an IGAD member, having formally been admitted into the regional body in December last year.
Operational since 2002, CEWARN is currently the leading IGAD-initiative focusing on cross-border peace building as a way of promoting regional stability. Initially centred on cross-border pastoral and related conflicts along the Djibouti-Ethiopia, Ethiopia-Kenya-Somalia as well as Ethiopia-Kenya-South Sudan and Uganda borders, CEWARN is fully operational in South Sudan’s Eastern Equatoria state counties of North Kapoeta, South Kapoeta, Budi, Ikwotos and Narus.
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