Over the past decades, many African countries have been facing volatile situations and a variety of threats to human security and development. Setting up effective institutions as well as continuous peace- and stability building is necessary to provide alternative conflict resolution mechanisms and tackle root causes over the long term. The Ghanaian experience around peace building and its National Peace Council has been a pioneer on the continent. Its example serves as an inspiration to several other countries who are facing imminent situations of conflict.
Over the past decades many African countries have been facing volatile situations and a variety of threats to human security and development. More than half (35) of all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are currently exposed to situations of conflict or fragility towards violence in its different dimensions. Ethnic origins, religion and social inequalities are only some of the causes that trigger violent outbreaks. They are also a reminder that effective institutions as well as continuous peace- and stability building is necessary to provide alternative conflict resolution mechanisms and tackle root causes over the long term. In Ghana for instance, when conflict arises, security agencies (peace and military) are only interested in ending hostilities and later punishing perpetrators, which creates more adversities. Without an opportunity to listen and address the concerns of all parties in conflict, the root causes of conflict are rarely addressed. Agencies of state such as the Police, are often seen as appendages of government, which makes their intervention often difficult. Therefore, there is no opportunity to listen and address the concerns of all parties in conflict. The National and Regional Peace Councils (N/RPCs), established to prevent and mediate in conflict, provide this platform for all parties irrespective of the public perception and prejudices against them to have their say at the negotiating table in order to find an amicable resolution to the conflict. The N/RPCs also serve as a neutral arbiter in conflict resolution. Thanks to the eminent members that make up its Governing board, it is more trusted than institutions of the state.
While Ghana has been a pioneer of peace and stability over the past decades, the country faces many threats to human security through its geographical situation and within some of the Northern regions. Although they never threatened to assume a national dimension, numerous chieftaincy, ethnic and resource based conflicts continue to occur. To address such challenges Ghana has set up a solid peace architecture at the national, regional and district levels. Since 2011, the National Peace Council replaced the Northern Region Peace Advisory Committee (NORPAC) which was set up after the 2002 Dagbon Chieftaincy conflict (following the murder of the overlord of Dagbon and some thirty of his elders) as a mediation and conflict resolution mechanism to foster trust among the factions and restore confidence as well as enhance relationships. NORPAC was composed of representatives of Christian and Muslim bodies, Traditional Chiefs, Women and Youth groups and Security agencies. Following the success of NORPAC, the National and Regional Peace Councils (N/RPCs) have been set up to facilitate and develop mechanisms for conflict prevention, management, resolution and to build sustainable peace in the country. They promote cooperative problem solving to conflicts and, by institutionalizing the processes of response to conflict, produce outcomes that lead to conflict transformation, social, political and religious reconciliation and transformative dialogues. In this regard therefore, the NPC has worked with key stakeholders to prevent violence in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 general elections. It has also intervened successfully in conflicts such as the Tafo Conflict, the long running Bawku Chieftaincy conflict, by supporting the factions to form an inter-ethnic peace
committee, where the people can chart their path to the management and resolution of the conflict among others. Indeed, the work of the N/RPCs are very much respected by the Ghanaian and have constantly received high levels of trust during Afro barometer surveys among others. The NPC serves as example for many other African countries and has willingly shared its experience with Governments in the region. Several visits, for example a study visit of the Ivorian ambassador accompanied by a group of students in 2015, an exchange with officials from South Sudan and longer term exchanges are taking place with countries in the region. The visit of representatives of the Ethiopian Government, an inter-religious council and religious leaders, in the framework of a programme to strengthen national capacities for conflict prevention, allowed to incorporate important elements from the study tour in a programme that supported Ethiopia's election in 2015 and the overall national peace architecture.
Supported by: UNDP
Implemented by: National Peace Council (NPC)- Ghana