By Maxwell N. Achu, Diplomat,
(Peace Advocate, Conflict Transformation Researcher,
Academia, MA. International Relations) 2
This paper calls for inclusive peace strategies to enable the implementation of proper measures for the effective avoidance of the “conflict trap” as well as the consequences that come with violence and conflicts.
For purposes of brevity, this paper will not narrate the historical roots of the conflict, as it does not seek to feed on the conflict formation process. Rather it will analyze the status quo to paint the picture as it is, as well as propose solutions to redressing and amending these impairments to peace.
Like in Mali where the Tuaregs decry marginalization from the central Government against the northern part of the country, so too are the “Anglophones” claiming the same infringements on their participation in the state of affairs in Cameroon. The “Anglophones” decry extensive social exclusion, social and economic injustice and a structurally divided society which underpin discrimination. According to the “Anglophones”, the abandonment and outright neglect of some parts of the country, pushes disgruntled and frustrated citizens to dominate the local context without proper regulations, which leads to violence. This could be substantiated in the peripheral Regions of Colombia before the turn of the 21st century4 or the present day Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, this paper follows a crosscutting and holistic research to understand and report the technical problem, by going deeper in the deep rooted structural and cultural violence within the Cameroon society. It does not limit to the physical or direct violence exacerbated by the recent “Anglophone” uprising.
1) Absence of peace culture:
Cameroon lacks the entrenched culture of peace to strengthen its resilience to such civil shocks. The society is making no efforts in bringing subconsciously, peace cultures to the forefront. A society, which is wired adequately with a peace culture, like in Botswana and Ghana, will ensure that equality must be the preferred mode of interaction, as opposed to the Cameroon “Francophone” mainstream dominance. One of the major instruments of implanting a peace culture is through “massive peace education”. Cameroon cannot boast of any form of intensive peace education in the context of peace building to promote a peace culture. Education is the most efficient medium to uproot the subconscious violent-culture and implant the necessary peace culture. The United Nations with several resolutions has buttressed the vitality of this medium to enhance peace-building skills through peace learning. The UN supports this claim in various resolutions:
UN General Assembly: In its resolution 53/243 of 13 September 1999 adopted by the UN General Assembly on the Declaration of a Culture of Peace, Solemnly proclaims the present Declaration on a Culture of Peace to the end that Governments, international organizations, and civil society may be guided in their activity by its provision to promote and strengthen a culture of peace…6
• As per Art 1(a) of this Declaration, the UN defined ‘a Culture of Peace (as) a set of values, attitudes, traditions and modes of behaviors and ways of life based on: respect for Life, Ending violence and promotion of practice of non-violence through EDUCATION…
• The Art 1(e) stresses Efforts to meet the developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations (Cameroon students and peace-workers).
• As per Art 4, EDUCATION is one of the principal means to build a culture of peace, and Art 7 highlights the educative and informative role, which contributes to the promotion of a culture of peace. Art 8 mentions the key role in the promotion of a culture of peace belonging to teachers, intellectuals’, health and humanitarian workers as well as non-governmental organizations.
• Urges member states to support, as appropriate, quality EDUCATION FOR PEACE that equips youth with the ability to engage constructively in civic structures and inclusive political processes,
• Encourages investments in building young people’s capabilities and skills to meet demands through EDUCATION opportunities designed in a manner, which promotes a culture of peace.
In the same context, resolution 60/3 on the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the world commends the relevance for the promotion of peace culture through EDUCATION and encourage activities related to specific areas identified in the Programme of Action on a Culture of peace.
Security Council, SC,: One of the most vital resolutions on the enhancement of peace culture is the Security Council resolution 2250 adopted at its 7573rd meeting, on 9 December 2015. The resolution: 7 Furthermore, recalling the UNESCO’s constitution that states that ‘since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed’. Any attempt to disrupt youth’s access to education to peace-building skills and abilities has a dramatic and tremendous impact on durable peace and reconciliation.
In fact, the environment in Cameroon does not reflect a relax conviviality for peace by peaceful means.
2) The presence of deep-rooted structural violence
Violent deep structures are situations where the forms of relations between the segments/divisions of society are dysfunctional – between the old and the young, men and women, between races and ethnicities, between powerful and powerless, along every social cleavage. Cameroon deep violent structure is characterized by asymmetry, irregularity and lopsidedness of power between the different segments of her society. This automatically leads to violations of the basic needs of others.
Cameroon does not have a well-outlined infrastructure, which promotes equity and reciprocity across the social cleavage that could facilitate the transformation of the “Anglophone” crisis, and prevent civilian killings. This discourages peaceful approach as widespread means of conflict resolution. This is accounted as failure of the political responsibility, to have mobilized the knowledge of nonviolence. The “Anglophones” claim that in such in-egalitarian structure, the time for parity has come. This leads us to one of the reasons why NGOs in Cameroon are fragmented because NGO representatives can better negotiate in egalitarian setting as opposed to diplomats from an in-egalitarian state system.
Cameroon structural violent scenario can be analyzed from two dimensions; Development and Freedom. Concerning the dimension of Development, structural violence in Cameroon is epitomized in loss of citizens’ lives from hunger, preventable diseases and other related sufferings caused by unjust structures of the society coupled with weak economic power. Effects of such structurally violent societies often seek humanitarian aid, food aid, alleviation of poverty and other related misery programmes. Meanwhile, concerning Freedom, the structural violence in the Cameroon environment or context, legitimizes itself through excessive deprivation from freedom of choice, and from participation in decisions, that affect people – in this case – Cameroonian lives. This dimension of violence brings other effects such as oppression, occupation or some form of dictatorship, prevalent in mostly authoritarian and hybrid Government types.
It is our objective that this peace plan will set the stage for complete eradication of structural violence, as well as build life-sustaining economy at the local and national level in Cameroon while ensuring that everyone’s basic needs are met. The long-term prospects of this peace agenda will further spur good governance; encourage effective citizenry participation and self-determination in decisions affecting their own lives. It is for this reason that the long-term peace project seeks to create institutions that promote cooperation, reconciliation, openness, equality and the culture of peaceful actions in collective situations. This will strengthen democratic institutions to be consensual, inclusive, transparent as well as accountable.
(To be continued)