Agency For Transformation

Great lakes region: CSOs launch handbook

Officials from a number of Civil Society Organisations majorly from Uganda and Kenya gathered at the Protea Hotel in Kampala on Monday to launch a handbook for Civil Society Organisations on the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

The handbook explains the origin of the ICGLR and how the organisation functions.

According to the handbook, the ICGLR is an inter-governmental organisation that was started by the United Nations and the African Union as an umbrella for countries within the region to deal with issues of peace, security, democracy and development as called for by the Security Council of the UN in the year 2000.

Rose Othieno, the executive director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, who attended the launch, said the 1994 genocide of Rwanda and the rebel activity in northern Uganda were some of the conflicts that prompted the formulation of the ICGLR.

“The conflicts in individual countries were either spilling over into other countries or affecting the stability of the economy of other countries in the region,” Othieno said.

The founding members of the organisation included Angola, Burundi, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Central African Republic, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia and Uganda.

South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, became the 12th member of the ICGLR.

“In September 2004, the Heads of State met in Arusha Tanzania and signed the Arusha Declaration that gives the vision for the ICGLR,” Othieno said.

Highlights of the handbook

The handbook focuses on the structure of the ICGLR illustrating how the organisation works.

It also highlights the four main themes of the ICGLR including peace and security, democracy and good governance, regional integration and economic development and social and humanitarian issues. The handbook also includes selections of areas where Civil Society Organisations have come on board to influence major decisions in the region.

The five-hour event kicked off with presentations from a panel that included Nathan Byamukama, the acting director of the Regional Training Facility and Rose Othieno the executive director Centre for Conflict Resolution. Other panellists were Margaret Kyomukama, the Assistant Commissioner for Gender in the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development and Walter Odhiambo, the executive director of the Nairobi Peace Initiative Africa, who is also one of the signatories to the handbook.

The event was opened by Eunice Musiime, the executive director at Akina Mama Wa Afrika, a continental women organisation, welcomed the guests and explained the partnership that put the handbook together.

“This work was put together by the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Nairobi Peace Initiative Africa and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolutions of Disputes. Akina Mama Wa Afrika are the Ugandan partners in this,” she hinted.

For the official launch, the panellists and Musiime were joined by Dr Maggie Kigozi, Vice Chairperson of the board at Akina Mama Wa Afrika and Ambassador for the fifth Sustainable Development Goal which focuses on Gender Equality.

The sustainable development goals are a universal set of goals that were inaugurated after the expiration of the millennium development goals (MDGs) last year. The SDGs are used by the UN member states to frame their agendas over the next 15 years.

Will it be readable?

Even as the handbook is printed in English, there were a series of requests and confirmations that a more “inclusive” approach will be taken, with Denis Wasike from the Nairobi Peace Initiative Africa noting that the handbook will also be translated into local languages and French.

“We will put this in the languages that reach the grassroots and we are looking into the selection of languages,” Wasike said.