As a result of the frequent crises in the Great Lakes Region, the Heads of State and Government of the region signed the Pact on Security, Stability and Development of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). The signing of this agreement in December 2006 was observed by the United Nations and the African Union. AWEPA was asked to facilitate the process and, through its work, contributed to the ownership and the ratification of this Pact by the member parliaments. The Parliamentary Forum of the ICGLR was then established with the considerable task of consolidating the democratic processes of the ICGLR, notably through oversight of the effective implementation of the Pact.
The Forum aims primarily to serve as a platform for dialogue, exchange of experience and conflict management for the parliaments of the member countries of the ICGLR. In addition, it works to support government efforts in conflict prevention and resolution.
The specific programme objectives for 2015 were:
- To facilitate the Forum’s statutory activities (Plenary Assembly and Executive Committee meeting);
- To monitor the current political, security and humanitarian situation in countries in which conflicts are ongoing: Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of South Sudan;
- To build the capacities of the Forum’s Secretariat General.
Example of activities
To support the peace process in CAR, the Speakers of the parliaments of the ICGLR member countries adopted a resolution on the political, security and humanitarian situation in CAR during the 5th Ordinary Session of the Forum’s Plenary Assembly held in Nairobi, Kenya, in January 2015. Through this resolution, the parliaments called on the Secretary General of the Forum to organise, in collaboration with the National Transitional Council, a capacity building seminar in CAR on the role and responsibilities of parliamentarians in the peace and reconciliation process in post-conflict countries. AWEPA was asked by the Forum’s Secretariat General to facilitate this activity, which took place on 1-2 April 2015. The activity saw the participation of a number of political actors from the CAR as well as parliamentarians and experts from DRC, the Republic of the Congo and Rwanda.
The seminar allowed delegates from countries which had also experienced internal conflict (DRC, Republic of Congo, Rwanda) to share their thoughts and learnings. The delegates from Burundi were unable to attend the activity due to the institutional crisis which was unfolding in their country.
As a result of the seminar, participants made a commitment to work to restore peace and security in the country and to supporting the return to a constitutional framework as well as the organisation of democratic elections in CAR.
This seminar, and the diplomatic parliamentary exchanges which it facilitated, engaged the main actors of the conflict in CAR, who committed to working together towards peace and reconciliation.