By Samuel J Kargbo
The United Nations Development Programme yesterday partnered with the Sierra Leone Parliament to organise a workshop for lawmakers and members of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) on mediation and conflict resolution in the ongoing constitutional review process at Committee Room 1, at Parliament.
The workshop discussed the causes of conflict in Africa and the role of national constitutions in mediation and conflict resolution efforts, using case studies of Liberia, Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Kenya.
Also, participants discussed the root causes of the eleven wars in Sierra Leone and post-conflict experiences, as well as critical issues confronting the CRC. The pre- conflict, peace agreement and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, conflict handling styles/mechanism consensus building, mediation and peace promotion in the CRC process, role of parliamentarians in promoting the CRC process, identifying emerging conflict issues, early warning and developing early responses relating to CRC, were also discussed.
Head of Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Memuna Pratt, said that engaging lawmakers and CRC members on how to deal with conflict mediation in the CRC process was timely.
UNDP Country Director, Sudipto Mukerjee pledged the UN development agency’s support to the process of constitutional amendment involving consensus building among various groups and interest in the country, as it promotes good governance and democracy, as well as touches on equity, justice, dignity, social cohesion and prosperity for all sierra Leoneans.
Chairman of the CRC, Justice Edward Cowan, said the decision was reached to engage Parliament because lawmakers are representatives of the people, underlining that the role of MPs is very vital to the constitutional review process.
Justice Cowan also noted that the involvement of the public is vital to successful outcome of the process.
While officially opening the workshop, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Chernor Bah underscored the significance of the constitution to the existence of any nation, and that Parliament has confidence in the composition and membership of the CRC, which has a two year mandate to collate and produce a draft proposal for amending the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.