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PEACE SECRETARIATS:
  CORE ELEMENTS



             Quick Guide




                Prepared by
The Public International Law & Policy Group




              November 2006
               PEACE SECRETARIATS: CORE ELEMENTS

                            Executive Summary

       This memorandum describes the core elements of state-sponsored peace
secretariats and similar institutions charged with managing conflict. Peace
secretariats generally take the form of either a national or multi-national
organization. Some countries, however, have chosen to establish ministries or
committees to take on the functions of a peace secretariat.

      A comparative survey of peace secretariats demonstrates that the
functions of a peace secretariat often include: facilitating communication
between conflicting groups; coordinating relationships with the media;
promoting human rights; implementing negotiated settlements; supporting new
or amended legislation; and organizing resettlement, reconstruction, and
rehabilitation efforts.

       Peace secretariats may be structured to accomplish specific goals. Some
peace secretariats are structured specifically to emphasize neutrality and build
the confidence of all parties to negotiations. Others are structured to address
specific substantive concerns, with units to address issues such as human rights
and development. Still others are structured to encourage and support peace
efforts at the local level.

       Peace secretariats receive financial and technical assistance from
government institutions, foreign states, and international organizations. This
assistance may take the form of direct funding or a partnership to carry out
specific projects. Peace secretariats also frequently work closely with related
government institutions on issues that are specific to individual conflicts.
               PEACE SECRETARIATS: CORE ELEMENTS

                              Table of Contents
Statement of Purpose                                                       1
Introduction                                                               1

Types of Peace Secretariats                                                1

Functions of Peace Secretariats                                            2
     Facilitating Communication between Conflicting Groups                 2
     Coordinating Public and Media Relations                               3
     Promoting Human Rights                                                3
     Implementing Negotiated Settlements                                   4
     Supporting New or Amended Legislation                                 4
     Organizing Resettlement, Reconstruction, and Rehabilitation Efforts   5
Structure of Peace Secretariats                                            5

Resources Provided to Peace Secretariats                                   6
Relationships to Other Government Institutions                             7

Conclusion                                                                 7
                                                                      Peace Secretariats: Core Elements


                     PEACE SECRETARIATS: CORE ELEMENTS

Statement of Purpose

       This memorandum describes the core elements of state-sponsored peace
secretariats and similar institutions charged with managing conflict.

Introduction

        State-sponsored peace secretariats may take the form of national
institutions, multi-national institutions, government ministries, or commissions.
Their functions may include facilitating communication between conflicting
groups, coordinating relationships with the media, and implementing negotiated
settlements. The structure of a peace secretariat often reflects the secretariat’s
principal objectives. Secretariats may develop units that focus on specific
substantive issues or operate at the local level to effect change. Peace
secretariats frequently receive assistance from both national and international
resources and often work closely with relevant government institutions.

Types of Peace Secretariats

       Peace secretariats generally take the form of either a national or multi-
national organization. Some countries have chosen to establish ministries or
committees to take on the functions of a peace secretariat. National peace
secretariats operate nationwide and develop expertise working within a single
political and legal system. A sample of states that have established national
peace secretariats include Nepal,1 Guatemala,2 and South Africa.3

      Multi-national peace secretariats coordinate peace processes in two or
more neighboring countries. These secretariats gather international allies and
financial resources in order to address conflicts throughout a geographical
region, thereby reducing costs and duplicated efforts. The Intergovernmental
Authority on Development (IGAD), an African regional development
organization, offers an example of this type of secretariat.4 IGAD operates

1
  The Government of Nepal established a Peace Secretariat in 2004 with a view to initiating dialogue with the
Maoist rebels. The Peace Secretariat was suspended and reactivated in 2006 to facilitate talks between the
Government and the guerillas. Peace Secretariat of Nepal website, available at http://www.peacetalks.gov/np;
Guatemala’s Peace Secretariat (SEPAZ) website, available at www.sepaz.gob.gt (in Spanish only).
3
  The National Peace Accord was signed in 1991 by 27 political leaders and established a national network of
localized mediation and monitoring institutions to manage conflict at the local level. The National Peace
Secretariat was established to implement and oversee local institutions.
4
  The Intergovernmental Authority on Development is a seven-country, regional development agency
headquartered in Djibouti. Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda are member states
of IGAD. IGAD website, available at http://www.igad.org.


                                                      1
                                                                     Peace Secretariats: Core Elements


separate peace secretariats addressing the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia.5
IGAD coordinates activities, facilitates fundraising, and shares resources
between these secretariats.

       Other structures, such as ministries or commissions, may fulfill a similar
role to that of a peace secretariat. The Republic of Georgia, for example, has
established a Ministry for Conflict Resolution to assist the President in
resolving the conflicts over the separatist claims of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Functions of Peace Secretariats

      A comparative survey of peace secretariats demonstrates that the
functions of a peace secretariat often include: facilitating communication
between conflicting groups; coordinating relationships with the media;
promoting human rights; implementing negotiated settlements; supporting new
or amended legislation; and organizing resettlement, reconstruction, and
rehabilitation efforts.

        Facilitating Communication between Conflicting Groups

      One of the functions of peace secretariats is to facilitate communication
between stakeholders during the peace process. IGAD facilitated peace
negotiations in Sudan and Somalia.6 The Sudan Peace Secretariat, headed by
IGAD and based in Nairobi, facilitated shuttle diplomacy7 with representatives
from the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation
Movement/Army.8 Similarly, IGAD brought Somali leaders together on a ten-
day retreat to "iron out all outstanding differences, engage in dialogue and
deepen reconciliation."9


5
  During 1994, IGAD started to undertake conflict management tasks when it hosted and facilitated negotiating
sessions between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the rebel forces from southern Sudan in an attempt
to end the civil war. Profile: Intergovernmental Authority on Development (2005), Institute for Security
Studies, available at http://www.iss.co.za/AF/REgOrg/unity_to_union/igadprof.htm.
6
  IGAD’s role in peacemaking in Sudan and Somalia are described in detail in Korwa G. Adar, Conflict
Resolution in a Turbulent Region: The Case of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in
Sudan, available at http://www.accord.org.za/ajcr/2000-1/accordr_v1_n2_a3.pdf; Somalia: Countering
Terrorism in a Failed State (2002), International Crisis Group, at 23-27, available at
http://www.crisisgroup.org/library/documents/report_archive/A400662_23052002.pdf.
7
  Shuttle diplomacy is a form of mediated negotiation in which delegations communicate through a third party.
Shuttle diplomacy may be used when two groups who do not recognize each other wish to engage in
negotiations.
8
  Jens Erik Torp, Sub-regional Organisations, Conflict Prevent and Donor Funding; Lessons to Be Learned by
SADC from OAU, IGAD and ECOWAS Experiences (2001), at 7, available at
www.nu.ac.za/csds/Publications/donor_11.PDF.
9
  Somalia: Leaders’ Retreat Scheduled, Weekly Round-Up (December 2003 - January 2, 2004), United Nations
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 27, available at
http://iys.cidi.org/humanitarian/irin/hafrica/04a/ixl0.html.


                                                      2
                                                                        Peace Secretariats: Core Elements


         Coordinating Public and Media Relations

       Peace secretariats are often responsible for facilitating communication
with the press, the international community, and civil society to promote the
peace process. Peace secretariats may also solicit input from these resources in
order to facilitate public participation in the peace process. The Guatemalan
Peace Secretariat has a unit devoted to “social communication.”10 This unit
coordinates radio, press, and television campaigns; produces radio programs;
coordinates workshops; and monitors media coverage of the peace process.11

       Similarly, one of the principal functions of the South African National
Peace Secretariat is “to facilitate communication so as to ensure broad public
participation in bringing about a climate of political tolerance on the one hand,
and to resolve conflicts at grassroots level” on the other.12 The National Peace
Secretariat coordinated most of its public relations efforts through regional and
local dispute committees, which were responsible for monitoring the
implementation of the peace accord, resolving local disputes, and taking steps to
prevent violence.13

         Promoting Human Rights

       As part of their peacebuilding activities, peace secretariats often actively
promote human rights. Guatemala’s Peace Secretariat played an important
supportive role in the country’s human rights efforts by gathering information
on the human rights situation and collaborating with organizations on human
rights efforts. The Secretariat also worked with the National Peace Fund, the
United States Agency for International Development, and the United Nations
Development Fund to create programs benefiting local communities that
suffered particularly grave and large-scale human rights violations during the
state’s civil war.14 These programs provided economic, health, housing and
social development support to these communities in addition to promoting



10
   Guatemala’s Peace Secretariat (SEPAZ) website.
11
   Guatemala’s Peace Secretariat (SEPAZ) website.
12
   Dr. Paul Lusaka, National Peace Secretariat, The Future of the National Peace Accords (1994), available at
http://www.iss.co.za/Pubs/ASR/ADR19/Lusaka.html. This Paper was delivered at a conference on Rethinking
South African Security Architecture, jointly hosted by the Institute for Defence Policy and the Centre for Policy
Studies.
13
   Tool Category B: Non-Official Conflict Management Methods 3. Peace Commissions - South Africa:
National, Regional and Local Peace Commissions, Creative Associates International, available at
http://www.caii.com/CAIIStaff/Dashboard_GIROAdminCAIIStaff/Dashboard_CAIIAdminDatabase/resources/
ghai/toolbox3.htm.
14
   United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala, Note by the Secretary-General, United Nations General
Assembly, Doc. No. A/53/853, Paragraph 18, March 10, 1999, available at
http://www.un.org/documents/ga/docs/55/a55174.pdf.


                                                        3
                                                                     Peace Secretariats: Core Elements


reconciliation.15 The Secretariat collaborated with the Office of the Human
Rights Procurator and the Office for the Defense of Indigenous Women to
develop and implement strategies for reconciliation.16 Results of this
collaboration include the creation of a mechanism to compensate victims and
their families for human rights violations committed by previous governments.17

        Implementing Negotiated Settlements

       Implementing negotiated settlements is often one of the most important
roles of peace secretariats. Guatemala’s Peace Secretariat is charged with
implementing the promises contained in several peace agreements signed
between the Government of Guatemala and the Guatemalan National
Revolutionary Unity.18

       Similarly, the South African National Peace Secretariat is responsible for
implementing the National Peace Accord in coordination with the National
Peace Committee.19 The National Peace Committee is a 60-person body
composed of representatives from all groups that signed the Accord. While the
National Peace Committee is responsible for overseeing the overall
implementation of the Accord at the national level,20 the National Peace
Secretariat ensures implementation of the Accords at the regional and local
level. Together, both institutions work to resolve any political obstacles to
ensure the successful execution of the Accord.

        Supporting New or Amended Legislation

       Some peace secretariats play a role in initiating or supporting legislation
related to the peace process. The Guatemalan Peace Secretariat has been
involved in the approval and reform of several new laws related to free access to
information, arms and munitions, elections, political parties, and the
penalization of homosexual assault.21
15
   United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala, Note by the Secretary-General, United Nations General
Assembly, Doc. No. A/53/853, March 10, 1999.
16
   Summary record of the 1940th meeting: Guatemala 8 October 2001, UN Human Rights Committee, Doc. No.
CCPR/C/SR.1940, Paragraph 28, available at
http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(Symbol)/CCPR.C.SR.1940.En?Opendocument.
17
   Cecilia Bailleiet, Between Conflict & Consensus: Conciliating Land Disputes in Guatemala (2002), Institute
for Public & International Law, available at http://folk.uio.no/ceciliab/between_conflict_and_consensus.pdf.
18
   The Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) is a guerilla movement that emerged 1982. The
United Nations assisted in brokering a peace between the two groups, which resulted in the URNG’s
disarmament in 1996 and its conversion into a legal political party in 1998.
19
   National Peace Accord, Chapter 8, available at http://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/public-
participation/southafrica-national-accord.php.
20
   Tool Category B: Non-Official Conflict Management Methods 3. Peace Commissions - South Africa:
National, Regional and Local Peace Commissions, Creative Associates International.
21
   Informe/Memoria de labores (Annual Report) (2004), Secretary of Peace, available at
http://www.sepaz.gob.gt/informacion.html (in Spanish only).


                                                      4
                                                                       Peace Secretariats: Core Elements



         Organizing Resettlement, Reconstruction, and Rehabilitation Efforts

      In some cases, peace secretariats may coordinate resettlement,
reconstruction, and rehabilitation efforts. For example, Guatemala’s Peace
Secretariat oversees the country’s efforts to reintegrate internally displaced
persons.22 The Secretariat coordinates with the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of
Health, the Land Fund, and other government and non-governmental
organizations to implement development projects that aid internally displaced
persons. The Secretariat also provides policy-makers and organizations
information on internally displaced persons, evaluates the effectiveness of
development projects, and recommends improved strategies for such programs
to government and non-governmental organizations.

Structure of Peace Secretariats

       Peace secretariats may be structured to accomplish specific goals. Some
peace secretariats are structured specifically to emphasize neutrality and build
the confidence of all parties to negotiations. Others are structured to address
specific substantive concerns, creating units within the peace secretariat to
address issues such as human rights and development. Still others are structured
to encourage and support peace efforts at the local level.

       Many peace secretariats strive to be neutral to the conflict they were
established to address. This has been accomplished by incorporating
membership from multiple parties to a conflict, as in the case of South Africa.23
Representatives of signatories to South Africa’s National Peace Accord form
the membership of the National Peace Secretariat.24 Neutrality has also been
accomplished by operating through a third-party. This is the case of the peace
secretariats for Sudan and Somalia.25 The Intergovernmental Authority on
Development operates peace secretariats for both conflicts.

       Peace secretariats often have several units devoted to specific substantive
issues in support of the organization’s overall mission. Guatemala’s SEPAZ,
for example, has units devoted to promoting a culture of peace, rights of
indigenous peoples, rural development, and the role of women.
22
   Profile of Internal Displacement (2004), UNHCR, available at www.unhcr.ch/cgi-
bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.pdf?tbl=RSDCOI&id=3c1f3c6f7.
23
   In South Africa, representatives of all signatories make up the National Peace Committee, the parent body of
the National Peace Secretariat. National Peace Accord, Chapter 8, available at http://www.c-r.org/our-
work/accord/public-participation/southafrica-national-accord.php.
24
   The members of the National Peace Secretariat are selected from representatives of signatories to the National
Peace Accord. National Peace Accord, Chapter 7.3A, available at http://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/public-
participation/southafrica-national-accord.php.
25
   Profile: Intergovernmental Authority on Development (2005), Institute for Security Studies.


                                                        5
                                                                     Peace Secretariats: Core Elements



       Peace secretariats also operate at the local level by establishing
representative committees to fulfill many of the functions of the national peace
secretariat. In South Africa, for example, the National Peace Secretariat
established peace committees at the provincial and local level.26 Membership in
the committees is composed of key stakeholders who are representative of their
constituent communities.27 The regional and local peace committees hold
meetings between community leaders, monitor security situations, communicate
information to local parties regarding the peace process, and submit status
reports regarding developments in the peace process to the National Peace
Secretariat.28

Resources Provided to Peace Secretariats

       Peace secretariats receive financial and technical assistance from
government institutions, foreign states, and international organizations. This
assistance may take the form of direct funding or a partnership to carry out
specific projects. In South Africa, the national government provides financial
and administrative resources to the National Peace Secretariat through the
Department of Justice.29 In addition, the Directorate of Internal Peace
Institutions, housed within the Department of Home Affairs' Directorate,
provided infrastructural support to the National Peace Secretariat.30

      The Guatemalan Peace Secretariat has coordinated with the National
Peace Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, and the
United Nations Development Fund on human rights projects.31 The Guatemalan
Peace Secretariat also receives support from the UN Development Programme,
Embassy of Sweden, the Swedish Agency for International Development, and
the German Agency for Development.32


26
   The South African National Peace Secretariat was successful in establishing a Regional Peace Committee in
each province and 260 Local Peace Committees. South Africa’s National Peace Accord Structures, Conciliation
Resources, available at http://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/public-participation/documents/southafrcia-npa-
structures.pdf.
27
   Chris Spies, South Africa’s National Peace Accord: Its Structures and Functions (2002), Conciliation
Resources, available at http://www.c-r.org/our-work/accord/public-participation/southafrica-structures-
functions.php.
28
   Dr. Paul Lusaka, The Future of the National Peace Accord Structures, National Peace Secretariate, African
Defence Review, November 19, 1994.
29
   Toolbox to Respond to Conflicts and Build Peace, Tool Category B: Non-Official Conflict Management
Methods, Peace Commissions, Creative Associates International.
30
   South Africa’s National Peace Accord: Its Structures and Functions (2002), Conciliation Resources.
31
   The situation in Central America: procedures for the establishment of a firm and lasting peace and progress
in fashioning a region of peace, freedom, democracy and development, United Nations General Assembly, Doc.
No. A/53/853, March 10, 1999, Paragraph 82, available at
http://www.worldpolicy.org/globalrights/guatemala/report9.html.
32
   Informe/Memoria de labores (Annual Report) (2004), Secretary of Peace.


                                                      6
                                                                   Peace Secretariats: Core Elements


       The Nepal Peace Secretariat receives support from the United States
Agency for International Development and the Academy for Educational
Development in the form of equipment and logistics, training in conflict
resolution and negotiation techniques, technical assistance on key policy and
programmatic issues, and developing a communications strategy. 33 The United
States Agency for International Development also supports the Peace Secretariat
by providing short-term consultants with technical expertise on issues of high
priority to the government.34

Relationships to Other Government Institutions

       Peace secretariats frequently work closely with related government
institutions on tasks that are pertinent to each individual conflict. This may
include, for example, working with a constitution drafting committee, relevant
government ministries, or other bodies.

       In Nepal, where constitutional amendments are seen as a critical next
stage in the peace process, the Peace Secretariat supports the Interim
Constitution Drafting Committee, which is housed in the Secretariat.35 The
Interim Constitution Drafting Committee has prepared a draft constitution for
consideration as part of a peace package. The Secretariat supports the
Committee by organizing meetings, gathering materials and providing advice
when needed.36

       In 2005, the President of Georgia created a ministerial position for
conflict resolution to advise the President on the conflicts between Georgia and
South Ossetia and Abkhazia.37 Appointing a Minister for Conflict Resolution
has the advantage of allowing state peacemaking structures to have parity to
coordinate directly with other Ministries, particularly the Ministry of Defense
and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Conclusion

       Peace secretariats work closely with relevant government institutions,
foreign states, and international organizations to promote the peace process. In
their efforts to promote peace, peace secretariats serve diverse functions that

33
   USAID: Congressional Budget Justification FY06, Asia and the Near East, Complete USAID/Nepal Program,
available at http://www.usaid.gov/policy/budget/cbj2006/ane/pdf/np_complete06.pdf0.
34
   USAID: Congressional Budget Justification FY06, Asia and the Near East, Complete USAID/Nepal Program.
35
   Interview with Mohan Banjade, Nepal Peace Secretariat (2006), International Institute for Democracy and
Electoral Assistance, available at http://www.idea.int/asia_pacific/interview_m_b.cfm.
36
   Interview with Mohan Banjade, Nepal Peace Secretariat (2006), International Institute for Democracy and
Electoral Assistance.
37
   Dov Lynch, Why Georgia Matters (2006), European Union Institute for Security Studies.


                                                    7
                                               Peace Secretariats: Core Elements


may include promoting human rights, implementing peace agreements, and
promoting peace throughout the region affected by conflict. These
organizations may take several forms, including national institutions,
multinational institutions, commissions, or government ministries.




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