The role of Faith Based Civil Society Organizations in Peace making in Ethiopia and South Sudan. A comparative perspective

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Addis Ababa University


Civil Society Organizations play an important role on the international scene, and have been inviting increasing attention from scholars, who are above all interested in their long term impact on good governance. It is imperative to pay attention to the reality of the African scene with its inherent features undermining certain modern Civil Society activities. Furthermore, attention should be paid to the special features of African society and tradition and the willingness to try new and innovative approaches, taking advantage of the best in the old. Most African societies are deeply religious, and religion plays a major role in public life. Scholars are researching innovative new approaches to the interface between spirituality and civil society, and their impact on good governance. This study seeks to investigate this theme through close scrutiny of the situation in Ethiopia and South Sudan. Culturally and historically the areas are quite different, although geographically in close proximity to each other. The main stakeholders are somewhat different in each case; however certain aspects of the interaction between state, FBCSO’s etc. are similar. Most governments show a willingness to involve FBCSO’s and traditional institutions in conflict resolution and particularly in mediation processes, in which they can profit from their high degree of social capital. However, when it comes to lobbying for the implementation of long term holistic peace paradigm (as described by Prof. Hezkias Assefa) including redress of social grievances, more transparent and answerable government etc. they are hesitant, because they do not want their own personal interests to be touched. As a result FBCSO’s and indigenous institutions gain some success in brokering mediation efforts, however they are less successful in introducing long term sustainable peace paradigms, or breaking through recurring cycles of violence. Moreover, governments introduce legislation curtailing the activities of CSO’s and bring them under closer scrutiny by the authorities



Peace making