Sections by chenboying


Dr. Ozonnia Ojielo

Introduction and background
Ghana is not a conflict country. Of all the West African states, since transiting to civil
democratic rule in 1993, Ghana has not experienced any major national level violent conflict.
Two critical incidents in the last decade demonstrate the substantial progress Ghana has
made in consolidating its democracy, and the capacity of its institutions to be self-
regenerating. In 2000 a ruling political party, the National Democratic Congress, lost the
presidential run-off election to the main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party. Against
the fears of the international community, the losing presidential candidate conceded defeat,
submitting to the will of the electorate. This was in a context where his political tradition had
been in power for 19 years,1 and there were very entrenched interests actively campaigning
for the ruling party not to hand over power to the winning opposition candidate.

The second incident was the December 2004 general elections, where the NDC again lost
the general election to the ruling NPP. Because of the NDC‟s loud protestations at the
alleged vindictive treatment of its leading members by the new government since the 2000
elections, many Ghanaians had expressed fears that the 2004 elections would be hotly
contested and that the NDC might not concede defeat if it lost a second time. The NDC
candidate, Professor John Evans Attah-Mills, raised concerns about the integrity of the
elections results, but still conceded defeat in the overall interests of Ghana. On the surface
therefore, Ghana is peaceful and is in stark contrast to many other countries in the sub
region. However, students of West African history would admit that a mere five years before
the conflicts in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote D‟Ivoire, no one in those countries could
have predicted the occurrence of conflict. A perception of peace and stability is not a
guarantee of long term peace.

At the community and local levels however, over the years Ghana has experienced a myriad
of conflicts which continue to pose threats to its security and stability. A recent study

commissioned by the Ministry of Interior2 identified several conflict factors arising out of
political, socio-cultural, economic and natural resource related issues. These conflicts include
chieftaincy3, civil and labour unrest, inter/intra political party conflicts, land, „alien‟
herdsmen, religion, ethnic/identity conflicts, minerals and economic resources among
numerous others. Another recent assessment identified more than 200 violent conflicts in
different parts of the country occurring between 1994 and 2002.4 Many of these conflicts
had been going on for decades, with occasional incidents of violence and mayhem.

Two major community level conflicts which impacted on national peace and stability
occurred within the last twelve years. The first was the Konkomba-Nanumba conflict in the
Northern Region of Ghana in 1994 and 1995, the so-called “guinea fowl” conflict.5 This
conflict centred on issues of economic insecurity and uneven development, disputes over
land and production issues, issues of governance within the traditional authority, religious
identity, ethnicity and fears arising from a proliferation of arms.6 Lives lost during this
conflict were estimated at 15,000 with more than 200,000 people displaced. There was
destruction of personal property, housing, and government services and infrastructure as
well as the dislocation of social life.7

The second conflict was over the Dagbon chieftaincy stool in 2002 during which the
reigning King, Yaa Na Andani 11 and forty of his elders were killed in Yendi, also in the
Northern Region. The Dagbon chieftaincy conflict has lasted for more than a century, with
cyclical bursts of violence and destruction of infrastructure, and the attendant social
dislocation. The king of the Dagombas is one of the most important chieftaincies in West
Africa. The conflict had become politicised over the years with the factions aligned to the
two main political traditions in the country. The violence usually occurred around periods of
political transition in anticipation that the factions would benefit from a friendly government
in power and re-draw the fragile political arrangement on succession to the chieftaincy. The
fundamental issues in the conflict are succession to chieftaincy between the two main clans,
governance, uneven development, use and allocation of chieftaincy resources and economic

Official response to these conflicts was law and order based.8 The government deployed
police and military units in the conflict areas to keep the peace. There was very limited
official engagement with the actors in the conflicts on the structural issues underpinning the
conflicts. Efforts at resolution mostly focused on the triggers and were usually through
arbitration, with outcomes imposed by the government authority. The peace in the
communities was not sustainable. The conflicts continued. Between 2002 and 2005, the
government spent 72 billion Cedis keeping the peace in Dagbon.9

Chieftaincy is a very important institution in Ghana. The average Ghanaian reflects his
identity partly through affiliation with the chieftaincy institution. In traditional times, the
chief had overwhelming political and other forms of authority. Social organisation in many
communities in the country follows a pecking order constructed by the chiefs. Colonialism
introduced administrative control by elected or appointed local officials. This form of
government was consolidated by subsequent constitutions. In accordance with the 1992
Constitution, the highest form of government at the local level is the District Assembly, led
by the District Chief Executive.10

In community level conflicts, the District Assembly is expected to intervene and ensure the
resolution of the issues in conflict. While the chiefs lost formal political authority through
the Constitution, they retain substantial de facto control over their communities. This is
accentuated by the division of the country into traditional authorities, often along the lines of
the traditional state ruled by the chief‟s ancestors, and in some cases, interspersing several
districts.11 In practice what exists are two state systems: a traditional state controlled by the
chief, without formal political authority but with all other levers of power in the hands of the
chief, and a modern state controlled at the local level by the district chief executive. In many
communities, the real authority is the chief and only candidates anointed by him could hope
to be appointed district chief executives.

The de facto powers of the chiefs are further consolidated by their control over community
resources such as land, rents from alienation of land and other community assets, royalties
and other contributions from companies engaged in mining and other economic activities
within the communities, and contributions from politicians and aspirants to lower level

chieftaincy positions. All of these contribute to making the chieftaincy institution extremely
attractive to would be contenders. Contestations over succession to chieftaincy have in many
cases been violent. Given its historical origins and the intense affiliation with the institution
by the average Ghanaian, the first point of recourse where conflicts arise is the chief. Since
majority of the violent conflicts in the communities are chieftaincy related,12 a vacuum
existed whereby chiefs didn‟t have widespread acceptance to intervene in conflicts in their
communities. The district assemblies are short-staffed and under funded. They therefore lack
the expertise and staying capacity for sustained engagement in conflict transformation.
Judicial Committees of the houses of chiefs deal with chieftaincy disputes. They are short-
staffed and under funded and most of them have cases pending on their dockets for more
than a decade.

Ghana has 147 magistrates‟ courts. Only 53 of these courts have sitting magistrates.13 The
state lacks the resources to build additional court rooms neither are there lawyers willing to
go to the remote parts of the country where infrastructure is limited to serve as magistrates.
The gap is filled by lay magistrates, persons untrained in the law. The quality of justice they
dispense is suspect. There is serious congestion in the courts leading to cases being
unresolved for several years.14 Many community level conflicts submitted for judicial
interpretation have languished in the courts for decades. Frustrations at such delays have
also generated additional violence. Many of the cases were not suitable for judicial
interpretation and other forms of resolution could have been explored.15

There is therefore a yawning gap in how the state and its institutions respond to conflicts.
NGO‟s have tried to fill the void. Many of them organise capacity building programmes and
local level interventions in many conflict areas. The magnitude of the problem, the
approaches and resources needed to make interventions sustainable overwhelm the limited
resources and capacities of the NGO‟s.

Conceptual issues: Rethinking the approaches
Our conceptual framework begins with the understanding that social conflict cannot be
interpreted from only one lens. A multi-perspective approach is necessary. Further that
culture and conflict are better appreciated in the meanings people give to events and how

they apply their knowledge of these events. Conflict is therefore a socially constructed
cultural event, and people participate in creating the situations and interactions they
experience as conflict.16 It is an interactive process that is based on the search for and
creation of shared meaning. This process is experienced and based on the perceptions,
interpretations, expressions and intentions of people. Meaning and transformation can occur
when people understand and appreciate these experiences and perceptions.

Conflict transformation for our purposes proceeds from the understanding that conflict,
when unabated can be destructive. Efforts should be channelled towards constructive
expressions of the experience. Transformation can occur at two levels: at the personal level,
in terms of the relationship shifting it from the destructive and unstable patterns to a
mutually beneficial and cooperative basis; and at the systemic level, a transformation of the
systems and structures in which the relationship is embedded, and which can be changed by
building on the energy and impact of conflict itself.17

The conceptual framework borrows heavily from Lederach‟s framework for building peace.18
There are four components to the framework.

The first is the question of how to pursue social change. Lederach argues that social change
can be influenced through personal and systemic change. Transformation can occur through
awareness, growth and commitment to change at the personal level. In protracted, violent
conflicts, such transformation involves work in grief and trauma counselling and dealing
with deep feelings of fear, anger, and bitterness that accompany accumulated personal and
family loss. Systemic transformation occur when justice and equity is promoted through fair
distribution of resources, transforming oppressive regimes and processes, and promoting the
non-violent resolution of conflicts.

The second component is how to manage the tension created by the simultaneous appeal of
justice and mercy. Justice is the pursuit of restoration, of rectifying wrongs, of creating right
relationships based on equity and fairness. Mercy, on the other hand, involves compassion,
forgiveness, and a new start. It is oriented toward supporting persons who have committed
injustices, encouraging them to change and move on.19 The challenge therefore is how to

advocate for those harmed, facilitating acknowledgment of the wrongs committed and
making things right, while showing compassion to the perpetrator. How do we punish
wrong doers, and at the same time offer them spaces and opportunity for redemption?

The third component is appreciating the linkage between trust and mutual dependence. The
process should empower people, giving them skills and capacities that enable them to
overcome obstacles and work towards transformation. At the same time, embedded in the
concept of empowerment must be an understanding of dependence. Empowerment
involves mutual dependence. Mutual dependence is anchored on trust. Empowerment arises
through interdependent relationships and by contributing to the growth of others in
community. Transformation occurs when people are empowered, while mutuality and the
community are promoted.

The final component of Lederach‟s framework suggests that process is as important as
outcome. Process is how the issues are approached, discussed and decided. Where the push
is towards a solution and outcome that ignores a clear and adequate process for achieving an
acceptable result, the resolution will not be sustainable. Process is not just a formalistic
approach to the outcome. Process is a philosophy and a lifestyle. It is based on the principles
of participation, cooperation and respect for others. Such an approach promotes the search
and commitment to the truth and restoration of relationships, as the ultimate measure of
sustainable outcomes.20

Testing the framework: The Peace and Governance Project
At the request of the Government of Ghana, the Interdepartmental Framework Team for
Coordination at UN Headquarters, New York, despatched an assessment team to the
country in 2003, to consult with the government and other stakeholders on the threats to
peace and stability in the country, especially in regard to the recent eruption of violence in
the Dagbon conflict in March 2002. The consultation showed that there was little trust in the
government or in its institutions by one of the key factions in the Dagbon conflict. As a
matter of fact, a commission of inquiry21 set up by government to identify the remote and
immediate causes of the conflict was boycotted by the same faction. The commission‟s final
report was rejected by both sides.

A state of emergency had been imposed for more than a year in that part of the country. The
government was keen to lift the state of emergency so that there could be a return to
normalcy. However it wanted to ensure that the lifting of the emergency would not give
cause for further violence. Most importantly, the first general elections to be conducted by
the new government would take place within the following eighteen months, in December
2004. Given the polarisation of the conflict, there was no doubt that it would feature as a
major campaign issue during the elections. The vice president of the country is a Dagomba
from one of the factions. The main opposition party, the NDC, chose its‟ vice presidential
candidate from the opposite faction. This heightened the political stakes in the conflict.

The government therefore sought technical assistance from the United Nations for the
establishment of a project within the UN Country Team to assist it in designing and
implementing a range of activities to build confidence among the factions, create spaces for
dialogue between the traditional, business and other elite; build capacity within the leadership
of the factions on negotiation and consensus formation, and generally work towards a non-
violent outcome in the region during the December 2004 general elections.

The regional government had established the Northern Region Peace Advocacy Council as a
mediation and conflict resolution mechanism to deal with the issues of trust among the
factions. Suffering from an acute lack of funds, the council had been unable to achieve much
success in its first six months of existence. Membership of the council was composed of
representatives chosen by the stakeholders themselves including chiefs, women, youth
groups and representatives of the security agencies. With technical and other support
provided by the UN, the council began to implement a set of interventions.

A series of capacity building and conflict transformation workshops were organised for
stakeholder groups. Among the groups, the most important were the youth chiefs who were
the “generals” that led the combatants to battle; the butchers in the local markets who were
the foot soldiers cutting off peoples‟ heads rather than cutting meat; the blacksmiths who
fashioned the implements of war; the leaders of the various youth associations who were
responsible for mobilising their respective communities for war; and the women‟s groups.

Among the women‟s groups, there were those who had suffered from the conflict as their
brothers and fathers faced up to their sons and husbands in the battle fields. There were
others who sang the praises of the warriors and charged them to continue fighting. Through
songs, innuendoes, and proverbs, they derided those who canvassed peace and celebrated
those who died fighting for their respective groups.

The intervention also sought to reach out to the politicians. The conflict had been
characterised as a chieftaincy issue. Therefore only chiefs, custodians of the culture, could
decide such a conflict. A committee of eminent chiefs established by the government to
resolve the conflict had been engaging the chiefs in attempts at resolution with mixed
results.22 The politicians were the ones driving the conflict and reaping electoral benefits
from it and yet had not been engaged in efforts at resolution up till then. There were also
other conflict entrepreneurs who had not been brought into the peace process.

The interventions had a number of objectives. First was to work towards transforming the
perceptions and attitudes of the target groups. They were learning to “de-horn” the other
side to see their humanity, to understand the issues in the conflict, their roles in them and
how they were boxed into a non-beneficial cyclical relationship of violence and revenge. It
was always surprising for them to learn that they had similar lenses on the conflict, and that
each of them could contribute towards creating a harmonious relationship with the

Another objective was to establish a minimum basis of relationship with the institutions of
the state. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region had always been a
source of concern to the security agencies.23 Occasionally they carried out military raids on
the homes and property of alleged traffickers. There was a very strong perception within the
region that these raids were selective. One faction seemed to be the regular target, and there
were constant allegations after each raid of the destruction of personal property as well as
the violation of the human rights of the alleged dealers. Furthermore, given the fragile peace
in the region, there were always cases of violence and destruction of property. Altercations
or disagreement between two individuals from the respective factions quickly snowballed
into attacks against members and property of the opposing faction. The police were accused

of heavy handed responses usually by one of the factions. Trust in the police was limited.
Rather than go to the police, the factions preferred to mete out group justice against their
opponents. Getting the security agencies to appreciate the importance of perceptions in
conflict causation was important towards getting them change their rules of engagement and
being seen as even-handed by the parties.

The factions come from the same family. Their putative ancestor had two wives who bore
Abudu and Andani, the forebears of the two main branches of the family today. There are
historical references to periods of peace and tranquillity in the kingdom as well as of joint
action by the families against other forces or groups. There is also historical evidence of
previous kings who united the families and had peaceful reigns. Those were important
reference points in trying to build trust and confidence as well as getting them to appreciate
the interdependence within which they are bound. The biggest problem was lack of trust.
Each side could narrate a long history of how it had been cooperative in the past, only to be
taken advantage of by their half brothers. To an outside observer, the conflict does not
appear as intractable. However, the lack of trust holds the factions hostage on the ways
forward. Privately, each of them was prepared to make concessions. None could trust the
other to keep to any bargain that may be reached.

There was also the perception that each side didn‟t need the other and could live alone in the
community. The Kokomba-Nanumba conflict of 1994-95 brought them together to ward
off what they perceived as threats to the predominant position of their king in the region.
For the butchers in the local market in Tamale, one faction always had meat to sell because it
could rely on connections with local officials to access credit. For the other faction, it was
imponderable that they could spend several days in the market and don‟t have access to
livestock to sell. Each time there was a conflict, the first point of attack was the butchery.
With the butchery destroyed, no one could sell meat in the local market. It became obvious
to the butchers that none could sell meat if the neighbour didn‟t have meat to sell as well.
They had to recognise the mutual need for a stake in the local economy, and the power they
have to create any outcome they desire. If everyone felt that their needs were catered for,
then they had a joint stake in ensuring that the market remained peaceful so that they could
pursue their economic activities in peace.

A final objective was based on one of the lessons learned from an earlier peace process
moderated by the UN on behalf of the government. Following the violence of 2002 and the
rejection of the report of the commission of inquiry, the government had appointed the UN
as moderator of a peace process to try and resolve the conflict.24 However, the UN was
moderator of a peace process that was convened on behalf of the government by a civil
society organisation. The participants at the peace process were chosen by the government
and there was limited consultation on the nature and intended outcomes of the peace
process. There was no consultation on the decision making modality for the peace process.
It was not surprising that one of the factions boycotted the peace process. A second peace
process convened in Tamale25 did not yield any substantive results.

The interventions produced a number of positive outcomes. The butchers resolved to
dissolve their respective factional associations to become one body, and to work together in
ensuring that each of them had a stake in the local economy. The youth chiefs pledged
themselves to avoid acts of violence. A real test of this commitment was during the 2004
general elections when the youth chief of Tamale invited the police to arrest one of his
followers who was in possession of a gun, an unthinkable act a couple of months previously.
This same chief mobilised other youth chiefs to carry out conflict transformation training for
the various groups within his domain at his own cost. All the groups committed themselves
to non-violent general elections. There were two cases of violence during the elections in the
region, but these occurred well outside the intervention areas and were not connected to any
of the groups participating in the process. The leaders of the youth associations mobilised all
the political parties, youths, women and other groups in Tamale to participate in a “peace
match” in the days preceding the elections and got the political parties to make a public
commitment of non-violence during the elections. They also organised a novelty football
match between a local football team composed of youths from the two factions, and a side
composed of famous Ghanaian former international footballers led by Abedi Pele.
Cooperation with the security agencies increased as they became more balanced in their
dealings with the factions.26

Since the 2004 general elections, there have only been two substantive incidents of violence
in Dagbon. The peace advisory council is now the reference point on all conflicts in the
region. Its processes remain transparent, participatory and accords respect to the
stakeholders. Because the representatives were chosen by the stakeholders themselves, they
have legitimacy and credibility and could speak candidly to their respective constituents
about the issues in the conflict, the perspectives of other groups, and what enlightened self-
interest for their group entailed. The engagement with the politicians was also successful.
They set up a network of members of parliament from the region to share experience and
exchange ideas on the ways forward in the peace process. They further agreed to support the
peace process and to de-emphasise the conflict in their political rhetoric. Finally a group of
them agreed to participate in a confidential non-binding high level consultation process co-
facilitated by the UN and the government, to explore ideas on how to support the resolution
of the conflict. These consultations produced the framework for a “roadmap to peace”27 that
was signed by the chiefs in Kumasi in March 2006. The roadmap led to the burial of the king
since his murder in 2002, the installation of his son as regent of the kingdom and the
composition of a council of six elders (three from each faction and the traditional
grandfather of the kingdom)28 to support the regent in managing the affairs of the kingdom.

Expanding the framework: the National Architecture for Peace
With the success of the Northern Region Peace Advisory Council, the government decided
to explore the possibility and relevance of extending the peace council concept to the rest of
the country. A range of consultations were organised by the Ministry of Interior and UNDP
with stakeholders at local, regional and national levels. The stakeholders included faith
community representatives, community representatives and community based organisations,
youth and women‟s groups, chiefs, non-governmental organisations, local and regional
government officials and agencies and security agencies.

At these consultations the issues explored included the causes and nature of conflicts in the
communities, the nature of the responses and how effective they had been, the gaps in the
responses and what needed to be done, and partnership between state and non-state actors
in building peace and preventing violence. Particular attention was devoted to learning about

local initiatives in building peace and resolving conflicts, and how they could be made

All over the country, local initiatives existed, working with groups in conflict to resolve or
manage their conflicts. Motivation was high, and people used the holy books, local customs
and precepts to get parties into settlement agreements. However, one key issue stood out:
their lack of capacity. This included issues of skills and competencies, capacity to analyse and
understand the conflicts, an understanding of third party intervention processes, resources
for sustained engagement, and absence of partnership with state institutions which have the
capacity to guarantee or monitor the implementation of outcomes.

The outcome of these consultations was the development of the “national architecture for
peace”. The architecture for peace has several outcomes:
    a. Personal and group learning and awareness, which hopefully will translate to better
        appreciation of living in community with others, so that inter-personal and inter-
        group relationships, are transformed.
    b. Establishment and strengthening of systems and processes for managing community
        grievance and conflict. The stakeholders wanted an end to the law and order
        approach to conflict prevention, and more focus on the structural issues underlying
    c. Recognition of the mutuality of the community and interdependence of Ghanaians
        through joint analysis of the causes and nature of conflicts. This should lead to
        acknowledgement and respect of identities, and of the values of listening to other
    d. Strengthening capacity to intervene in conflicts through community ownership of
        peace processes, giving people stakes in their local economies and helping them
        acquire skills in third party intervention processes.
    e. Institutionalising a culture of tolerance, peace and respect, through programmes in
        peace education and conflict resolution.
    f. Creating a culture of dialogue and debate through public discourses and use of the

The architecture for peace works at three levels and has several components:

       a. The first level is the District Peace Advisory Councils (DPAC), composed of
           representatives of key groups and stakeholders including chiefs within the district
           giving due consideration to gender and youth. The stakeholders elect their own
           representatives to the DPAC. The principle underlying the work of DPAC is
           volunteerism – people coming together to promote stability and peace in their
           communities. The work of DPACs is to promote peace within the district, create
           and/or facilitate spaces for dialogue between groups and communities and for
           the exchange of ideas on issues that may threaten peace within the community;
           engage in confidence and trust building activities between groups and
           communities in conflict within the District; promote tolerance building and
           provide strategic advise and early warning on potential threats to peace in the
           communities. No district peace advisory councils have been established yet. The
           first will be established later in 2007.

       b. The second level is the Regional Peace Advisory Councils (RPAC). The
           composition and mandate of RPAC‟s is similar to that of DPAC‟s. The RPAC‟s
           also facilitate the organisation of sports and economic activities to build
           friendships, promote trust and goodwill between communities in conflict;
           organise training and other capacity building programmes for DPACs and
           community members, and to share experience and knowledge about peace
           building. Volunteerism is also a core principle of the work of the RPAC‟s. Six
           regional peace advisory councils have been established and the remaining four
           will be established later this year.

       c. Regional Peace Promotion Officers who are nominated by the regional
           governments in consultation with a broad range of stakeholders within the
           Region, and appointed by the Ministry of Interior. The PPO‟s are expected to be
           independent and persons of integrity and credibility within the Region. The
           PPO‟s are technical resources available to the regional administration and all
           stakeholders within the Region to support them in resolving/transforming

   conflicts or mitigating violence. Eight PPO‟s have so far been appointed, one in
   each region. They have been trained in conflict analysis, negotiation, conciliation,
   mediation and reconciliation as well as in building trust and confidence among
   groups. The PPO‟s perform strategic roles advising the regional governments on
   maintaining peace and stability in the Region as well as on the implementation
   and/or monitoring of the outcomes of any agreements reached on conflicts in
   the Region. The regional administrations provide office accommodation for the
   PPOs and facilitate their movement to communities and groups in conflict. The
   PPOs work full time and are paid monthly salaries and other allowances from the
   budget of the Ministry of Interior. The PPO‟s             coordinate civil society
   engagement in peace building as well as on the collation of data on potential
   conflicts within the Region.

d. The third level is the National Peace Council. Members of the NPC were
   nominated by a broad range of identified stakeholders and groups including
   political organisations within the country. The NPC promotes the peaceful
   resolution of conflicts especially conflicts with the potential to threaten national
   peace and stability. It also works to build inter group trust and confidence. It
   creates/facilitates spaces for dialogue between national actors and interests, and
   engages in negotiation, mediation, reconciliation, confidence building and other
   related processes with groups, organisations and interests in conflict with a view
   to having the conflicts resolved amicably. It does not intervene in chieftaincy
   conflicts unless expressly invited to do so, either by the parties or the respective
   house of chiefs.29 It makes recommendations to governments and other
   stakeholders on actions to promote trust and confidence between groups, on the
   implementation of agreements reached in the resolution of any conflicts and it
   monitors the implementation of such agreements and resolutions. It also
   provides strategic advise to the national government and other stakeholders on
   consolidating peace and stability in the country The national peace council is an
   independent body composed of an eleven-member team of distinguished
   Ghanaians from various fields of endeavour including the youth.

The reconciliation component of the work of the peace councils is critical. Because the
approach to conflict prevention had been law and order based, many previous violations
were not prosecuted by the security agencies and state institutions as they sought to keep the
peace. This promoted impunity as each group tried to retaliate for previous wrongs. A
history of inter- group violence and revenge undermines community harmony and existence.
As the experience in Dagbon demonstrates, there can be no development in such a situation.
The peace councils work towards assisting community members to look beyond their
experiences of victimhood and to learn how to share the same community spaces with their
perpetrators? At the same time, the councils work with perpetrators to appreciate the
transience of power. Many of the perpetrator groups controlled the victims‟ communities
either in traditional political arrangements or in access to and control of resources, especially
land. The victim groups are increasingly asserting their independence and autonomy,
especially in a democratic era where the constitution guarantees freedoms and liberties to all
citizens. The levers of control that enabled the violation of rights of the victims and the
perpetration of violence have been considerably weakened. Perpetrator‟ groups have to be
assisted to appreciate the changed dynamics in inter-group relationships and the need for at
least some acknowledgement of what happened in the past, and a commitment to work
towards a mutual search for solutions in inter-community conflicts.

Because the peace councils are composed of representatives of stakeholder groups chosen
by the stakeholders themselves, they symbolise official acknowledgment of the right of the
respective groups to participate in community processes, irrespective of their historical
relationship with the dominant groups in the community. In this sense, the peace councils
are an empowering factor, strengthening the sense of self worth and identity of the groups.
Their internal processes focus on consultation and consensus building. Conflicts are not
resolved because a majority of the members of the peace council say so. Rather, the council
members work with the groups in conflict to deepen their knowledge of the processes in
which they are involved, so that they can also decide how to apply that knowledge, hopefully
to positive ends. This approach is fundamental to the work of the peace councils. There is
full consultation, participation and respect for all persons, groups and communities that
engage in the platforms offered by the peace councils.

The national architecture for peace works towards systemic change through changing the
context in which conflicts occur and strengthening the institutions of the state to manage
conflicts better. One approach to doing this will be through the peace education
programmes to be offered by two universities in Ghana. The Centre for Development
Studies at the University of the Cape Coast and the Institute of Adult Education at the
University of Ghana, Legon, will from 2008 academic session begin to offer undergraduate
and postgraduate courses and degrees in peace education. Through these programmes public
officers, community leaders, members of NGO‟s and community based organisations, faith
community members will acquire professional skills and competencies that could be
deployed in official and other capacities to manage conflicts wherever they occur in the

A second approach is through support provided for encouraging a culture of dialogue and
debate through enhanced professionalism of media institutions. Ghana‟s media is accused of
unbridled partisanship and political influence. Many commentators see the media as the
biggest threat to Ghana‟s democracy.30 The Ghana Journalists Association has received
support to strengthen peer review, media training, conflict and democracy reporting. The
media monitoring and oversight institution, the National Media Commission, was provided
with technical and analytical support. This has led to better monitoring of media
organisations around the country, the publication of monthly media monitoring reports,
which have become the barometer of professional practice. There is also increased
operational relationship between the Media Commission and the media licensing/regulatory
institution, the National Communications Authority. The fear of sanctions by the
Communications Authority for unprofessional conduct has transformed the broadcast of
many of the local radio stations that abound in the country. Professional practice by the
media deepens the role of the media as a critical space for dialogue and consensus building
on issues that affect the country.

A third approach is through institution building. The judiciary and other human rights
bodies, the chieftaincy institution, police and security agencies and other departments of
government are benefiting from capacity building support programmes from the UNDP and
other development partners in Ghana. Through these programmes, alternative dispute

resolution (ADR) has been mainstreamed into the work of the judiciary and human rights
bodies. The Legal Aid Scheme has begun a pioneering initiative in setting up community
mediation centres (CMC‟s) across the country. These CMC‟s rely on local people to resolve
disputes within their communities and if they desire, to have the outcomes validated through
simple applications to the courts.

Many state officials at the local level have learnt new ways of managing conflict and are
applying them in their daily work. They are increasingly working more closely with local
groups and organisations in building peace and preventing violence in the communities.
Through the capacity building programmes, they are able to appreciate issues of governance
such as equity and fairness in the distribution of resources, the need for accountability and to
apply the rule of law at all times. This enables them to continuously review their processes,
procedures and regulations and if need be, to change them to meet the larger aspirations of
the community.

The national architecture for peace is the first official national level programme on building
peace in Africa. It is in consonance with the Resolution of African leaders at the First
Standing Conference on Stability, Security and Development in Africa, for each country to
establish a national framework for the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. 31
It strengthens Ghana‟s role as a pacesetter in governance initiatives and follows its recent
achievement of being the first country in Africa to be peer-reviewed in the context of the
NEPAD Africa Peer Review Mechanism. The Government has complemented support
from the UN by making budgetary allocations for the architecture for peace in its 2007 and
2008 national budgets, and by donating a building known as the “Peace House” to the
National Peace Council. This building serves as a national rallying point for peace initiatives,
and symbolises the commitment of the Government and people of Ghana to the amicable
resolution of all conflicts.

Ghana‟s contribution to the discourse on transforming conflicts acknowledges the multiple
roles different actors and stakeholders are required to play in constructing peace in the
communities. Peace-building is no longer the preserve of governments and their institutions.

Mediation and other mechanisms of conflict transformation can lead to a cessation of
fighting. However, unless attention is paid to the structural issues in the conflict, the peace
may be temporary. Relationships need to be mended, yet, those injured by the conflict need
to be assisted to find closure. If they feel that justice has been done, their personal and group
healing can move at a faster pace. For too long, we made assumptions about the ordinary
people in the communities engaged in conflict. On protracted conflicts, the logic was that
resolution was impossible because the hate on both sides was overpowering. People need to
be empowered through learning and self-discovery. This applies to individuals and to the
system as a whole. The journey to discovery can lead to transformation at the personal and
systemic levels. The process by which peace is constructed is just as important as the issues
that are discussed at the table. Process is a way of life and not a technique. With a historical
legacy of oppression and dominance between our culture groups, process assumes a very
important role in building peace. Acknowledgement of equality, participation and respect
contributes to empowerment and ownership of peace building processes in the


1 The National Democratic Party is an offshoot of the Provisional National Defence Council, the military
government headed by Ft. Lt. John Jerry Rawlings, which was in power from 1981 to 1992.
2 Inter-Ministerial Expert Panel on Early Warning, “Developing an Early Warning System on Internal Conflicts

and Disasters” Unpublished document produced by the Ministry of Interior, Accra, September 2005.
3 Chieftaincy conflicts need to be nuanced. Many of the so-called chieftaincy conflicts include issues of

nomination and installation of chiefs, use of community resources, poor and discriminatory leadership by the
chief, differences over the areas of authority of the chief, etc.
4 Inter Departmental Framework Team for Coordination, “Ghana Conflict Assessment” Unpublished United

Nations Report, New York, 2003.
5 The immediate trigger of the conflict was a quarrel between two people in the local market over the selling

price of a guinea fowl.
6 Ada van der Linde and Rachel Naylor, “Building Sustainable Peace: Conflict, Conciliation, and Civil Society in

Northern Ghana” Oxfam Working Papers, Oxford, 1999: pp3-58
7 Ibid. p.8
9 Hon. Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Minister of the Interior. Statement made at the training programme of the
National Corps of Mediators, 10 November 2005. C72billion is the equivalent of USD$8million. This figure
excludes the salaries and allowances of the soldiers deployed to keep the peace.

 Inter Departmental Framework Team for Coordination, “Ghana Conflict Assessment” Ibid. p.
13Hon. Justice Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice of Ghana. Statement at swearing in of new lay magistrates.
Accra, May 2006.
15 The judiciary has been a major tool exploited by politicians to favour contending factions in the Dagbon
chieftaincy conflict. Every government between the 1960‟s and early 1970‟s instituted a commission of inquiry
which favoured its affiliated faction to take over the chieftaincy. Each outcome was rejected by the opposing
faction as not being just, thereby exacerbating the conflict
16 John Paul Lederach, Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, New York, Syracuse University

Press, 1995: p. 9
17 Ibid: p. 18
18 ibid: pp. 19-23. There are other approaches. For example, the Carnegie Commission on Preventing Deadly

Conflict it its Final Report, suggests two strategies for preventing conflict: operational and structural prevention.
Operational prevention are measures applicable in the face of immediate crisis, while structural prevention are
measures to ensure that crises do not arise in the first place, or if they do, that they do not recur. Structural
prevention are long term peace building efforts such as institution building, strengthening international legal
systems, developing national dispute resolution mechanisms etc.
19 Ibid: p. 20
20 Ibid: p.22.
21 Commission of Inquiry to investigate the Yendi Disturbances of 25-27 March 2002, otherwise known as the

Wuaku Commission.
22 The committee is otherwise known as the “Otumfuo Committee” after the Asantehene who is the

24 The Akosombo 1 and 2 peace processes of 2003 were organised by the West African Network for Peace
Building on behalf of the Government with funding from the Konrad Adeneur Foundation.
25 Capital of the Northern Region
26 There was however an unfortunate incident involving the security agencies. A leader of one of the opposition

parties was arrested by the police in the days after the elections on allegation of dealing in arms. He was handed

over to the army and died in detention a day later. An autopsy report showed that his death was as a result of
torture by the soldiers. T
27 Peace agreement between the Abudu and Andani families for the burial of Yaa Na Yakubu Andani and other

processes towards a final resolution of the conflict, Manhyia Palace, Kumasi.
28 The Ku Ga Na as the traditional godfather supports the King in the administration of the kingdom, and is

expected to be impartial in dealing with all segments of the kingdom.
29 “National Architecture for Peace in Ghana”; Policy document issued by the Ministry of Interior, May 2006.
30 National Media Commission, “Media Standards Professional assessment,” September 2006.
31 Article 7 of Part 111 of the Memorandum of Understanding on Security, Stability, Development and

Cooperation in Africa signed at the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa,
7-9 July, 2002; Durban, South Africa. Article 8 also challenged African leaders to “operationalise by 2005 the
requisite infrastructure and capacity for effective early warning systems to deal with conflicts in Africa.”


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