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Volume 8, Issue 2, April 2013
Drums of Change is a free quarterly publication produced by the ACTION Support Centre,, providing a platform for all those interested in promoting peace and development in Southern Africa and the continent more broadly. The newsletter invites written contributions from individuals, partners and leading thinkers on current issues of relevance to our networks, and includes perspectives, challenges and developments coming from our global partners and networks. We seek to deliver a balanced view of development happening in our global community.

Talk to us but not about peace - Kenya's election
Zimbabwe's Referendum 2013 - It's not yet Uhuru
Rethinking South Africa 
Infrastructures for Peace - Launch news 
Communique for Political Settlements for Just Peace in Sierra Leone
ACTION Global update - Centre Colaboracion Civica, Mexico


Dear Colleagues and Comrades,
Drums of Change is delighted to share with you its second publication of 2013.   A warm welcome to those of you joining us again, and to our first-time readers we hope you enjoy reflecting on the range of updates on the promotion of peace and development that have been included in this edition.
Transforming conflict and violence, and the systems and structures in which they are integrated begins with the individual but is equally the responsibility of the collective.  This edition highlights collaborative efforts by civil society activists in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Mexico, alongside global networks, which are promoting cultures of transformation and peace.
We hear from our comrades in Zimbabwe advocating free and fair elections and the promotion of human rights and access to justice.  A contribution from a longstanding conflict transformation practitioner offers insights in Kenya’s recent elections; and we look to Sierra Leone to gain insight into challenges facing communities and the commitments asserted in a recent communiqué to engage with policy makers and decision takers. 
Responding to a need for shared learning, best practice, facilitated dialogue and broadened levels of understanding between various informal peace structures, Drums of Change celebrates the launch of the international network Infrastructures for Peace!
Professor Qumsieyh takes us on a journey through South Africa’s past, reflecting on the current economic inequalities, and drawing important parallels between Palestine and the apartheid system being established by Israel. Our global network partners at Centro Colaboracion Civica highlight achievements being recognised through dialogue processes in Mexico.
The authors in this edition bring to the fore the ways in which our communities and nations are struggling to combat inequality, structural violence and violent conflict. This publication stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Central African Republic, Mali, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Somaliland, the DRC, Palestine, and Swaziland, Egypt, Sudan and South Sudan.
Active efforts are made around the world everyday to strengthen our sense of a collective humanity.  The collective wisdom is used to drive agendas of nonviolence and peace, which thrive on hope and faith; and faith is represented by our values and principles however differing they maybe, and the belief that another world is possible.
The Drums of Change is a collaboration initiated by the ACTION Support Centre based in South Africa, which seeks to create spaces where community voices can be heard alongside those of policy and decision takers, as part of a commitment to promote peace and development in Africa.
Please send us your thoughts and feedback and we encourage the discussion and debates to continue through our Facebook page.


Talk to us but not about peace - Kenya's election

By: Babu Ayindo

The Kenyan elections held this past March passed peacefully, in comparison to the widespread unrest and violence which took place during the 2007 Presidential elections.  Longstanding conflict transformation practitioner, Babu Ayindo, reflects on the peace agenda in Kenya at present.  

“Talk to us about something else, not about peace” this elder told me during the opening of a consultative meeting in Migori town in western Kenya. “We are not peaceful, but we are suffering peacefully” he added just in case I had any doubts. The elders’ forum took place when the country was waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on the contested presidential election in Kenya. The elders view is shared by many other people I have met since then. 

Just before the March 4 2013 elections, several organizations bombarded the  population through the media, with messages on the need to “remain calm  and keep the peace.” Political leaders were openly challenged to rein in on  their supporters to remain calm and keep peace. The Inspector General of  Police warned citizens not to discuss politics in pubs or assemble in groups. In  any case, he added, the police were all ready just in case some citizens were  foolish enough to disrupt the prevailing order and peace. The  A woman walks past a message of peace           irony is that we were talking to citizens who were actually very patient and 
painted by a Kenyan street artist,Ashif 'Maasai    peaceful.
Mbili', near a polling station in Kibera, Nairobi
Photograph: Dai Kurokawa/EPA

Even for those of us daily involved in peace and social justice work, these messages of peace were numbing. It reminded me of the robust campaigns on HIV/AIDS in the 90s that were driven by the logic that scaring people changes behaviour. Nowadays, I hardly see any advert on TV or bill boards daring people of imminent death of AIDS.
So, as a peace and justice worker I am still worried. I am particularly concerned about the stunned silence that followed the announcement of the Presidential results. I am disturbed that during and after the elections peace workers hardly came together to reflect on what had happened.
Like the elder I met in Migori town, I am inclined to believe that general population would continue being sceptical, even suspicious of peace workers. The calls for peace, many have told me, were not matched with an equal vigilance to matters touching on justice and rights within the electoral environment. As a result, majority of people I have met in western Kenya believe that peace workers have acquiesced, perhaps unintentionally, to the concept of peace only within the framework of State Security.

On the other hand, perhaps this is an opportunity for peace workers to re-engineer themselves as they seek to deliver justpeace embedded in the framework of Human Security.

Babu Ayindo is a dedicated conflict transformation practitioner and currently functions as an independent consultant in the design and facilitation of peacebuilding initiatives.  He is an educator, researcher, trainer, artist, writer and programme developer with various organisations.  He is currently based in Kenya.


Zimbabwe's Referendum 2013 - It's not yet Uhuru

By: Daniel Molokele

I recently had a privileged opportunity to be part of a ten-member delegation of a civil society observer mission team from South Africa for the Zimbabwean Constitutional Referendum. The historic event was held on Saturday 16th March 2013.   The observer mission team drew its delegates from such organisations as the Zimbabwe Solidarity Forum, Action Support Centre, CIVICUS, South African Forum for International Solidarity and the South African Council of Churches, among others. The team had a very simple brief. All it needed to do was to observe the conduct of the referendum process and also perhaps even more crucially, develop an analysis of the prevailing context surrounding the plebiscite.  
In the final analysis, the team was also expected to come up with some recommendations with regards the preparations for the forthcoming harmonised elections that are due to be held in Zimbabwe during the latter part of the year.
Civil society delegation observing Zimbabwe's 
Referendum, Harare March 2013

In the final analysis, the team was also expected to come up with some recommendations with regards the preparations for the forthcoming harmonised elections that are due to be held in Zimbabwe during the latter part of the year.
The team started its mission by setting up a series of appointments with various stakeholders most of which were drawn from the local Zimbabwe civil society. Prior to the actual day of the referendum, the team managed to visit the offices of various organisations in Harare. These included the following among others: the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition that was represented by its Chairperson Okay Machisa and its Co-ordinator Mcdonald Lewanika, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) as represented by its legal affairs advisor Zakeyo Mutimutema, the Movement For Democratic change (MDC-T) Youth Assembly as represented by its Chief of Staff Alex Magaise and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) as represented by it Executive Director Irene Petras.
On the actual day of the referendum, the team was split into three different sub-teams. I was chosen to be part of the team that travelled outside Harare to Ruwa and Goromonzi in Mashonaland East. In this regard, the team managed to visit at least six different polling stations during the course of the say. I had the privilege of casting my own vote at the Goromonzi Post office polling station.
The team I was part of, observed that in general terms the referendum process was largely peaceful at all polling stations that were covered by the field trip. There was no sign of intimidation or politically motivated violence. Police kept a minimal presence. The mood was so relaxed so much that the observed mission team was fascinated to find some young people playing a soccer match outside one of the busiest polling stations at Chinyika primary school.
Later that day, the team also managed to visit the Elections Resource Centre where they were hosted by its Executive Director Tawanda Chimhini. The team ended its day with a visit to the national Elections Command Centre that was being co-ordinated by the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network. (ZESN)
In the aftermath of the referendum, the mission team also managed to meet the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) spokesperson Madock Chivasa, the Ecumenical Support Services as represented by its spokesperson Pius Wakatama.
In light of my participation in the referendum process and also the meetings that I attended with various stakeholders, I would like to make the following observations and recommendations:
Most of the civil society community seemed to be very critical of the manner in which the draft constitution was adopted and also the setting of the date of the referendum. The broad consensus was that this was a political party driven process and was definitely not a people driven one as original envisaged when the constitutional movement was set up in 1997.
Most of the civil society community felt that in spite of their reservations, they still needed to actively support the referendum process and also recommend for a YES vote. Only a few aspects of the civil society challenged the referendum process. In this regard, the most outspoken opponent was the NCA that continued to stake its public demand for a people driven Constitution and campaigned for a NO vote.
Most of civil society community was very critical of the political environment prevailing in the context of the referendum process. The broad consensus was that there was a deliberate subtle attack on civil society organisations directly related to the electoral process initiated by the State’s security and law enforcement agents. There was a damming condemnation of perceived attempts to criminalise civil society organisations such as ZimRights and the Zimbabwe Peace Project.
Most of the civil society community members were very critical of Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). There was a general call for more reforms in terms of the administration of the electoral process. In particular, there was a lot of suspicion and anxiety with regards to the possibility of the manipulation of the forthcoming elections results; there was an open call for more international observers and media to be involved and also in good time such as at least 2-3 months prior to the next elections.
There was also an open call for more human rights and democracy related reforms prior to the forthcoming elections. The electronic media and security sector reforms were some of the prerequisites needed to improve the fairness of the political environment prior to the next polls. In this regard, the role of the international solidarity and diplomatic networks would prove to be a crucial factor. Specifically some active lobbying for a more decisive approach from such vital institutions as the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) was also a key determinant in the success of the forthcoming elections in Zimbabwe.
I would like to submit in conclusion that it seems as if most of the members of the local civil society were please with the conduct and outcome of the referendum process. However most of them remain fully anxious about the possibility of a flawed transitional process in the context of the forthcoming elections. There is still a lot that needs to be done to help democratise the political space in Zimbabwe prior to the next elections. In other words, most of the local civil society community members remain alive to the reality that in spite of the successful adoption of a new Constitution, the struggle for a new democratic Zimbabwe remains far from being over. It is not yet uhuru!
Daniel Molokele is a pro-democracy human rights lawyer and political analyst based in Zimbabwe. He currently works as the Civil Society Partnerships Co-ordinator for the Southern African Regional Programme on Access to Medicine and Diagnostics.



 Rethinking South Africa 
By: Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh

I did some research with South African scientists on gerbils and had worked briefly in the 1980s against apartheid in South Africa.  I have also been talking and reading about South Africa for the past thirty years as a model for Israel/Palestine.  I should have also listened to my own advice when I speak about Palestine: come and see because no amount of reading and talking to people outside would substitute for visiting the country itself and immersing one’s body, mind, and soul in a country.  So I am rethinking South Africa.  I was shocked and dismayed at some of what I saw but I was inspired by the people.  Witnessing the miseries of slums like Diepsloot (lit. Deep Ditch) and Soweto (South West Township), I realize that apartheid is not ended here but mainly changed shape and this provides us with lots of lessons for Palestinian struggle against Israeli apartheid. 
The conference included 50 representatives from some 20 countries to discuss how to bring the world closer to peace and justice and for this meeting to be in South Africa. Its guiding principles include recognizing the connection between ecology, economics and ecumenical (all based on Greek root oikos meaning house).  Getting our house in order as human beings is important.  In recognizing that an economy based on theological principles entails caring about people and our environment and living a spirituality of resistance and transformation.
But before the formal meeting began, we were given tours of places like the Apartheid Museum, the Voortrekker monument, the Freedom Park, the Diepsoot Township/settlement, and Mandela’s house.  At the Apartheid Museum we were painfully reminded of all the suffering and indignity of the era.  The killings, economic injustice, and human rights violations were then rampant as they are today in Palestine (the apartheid state of Israel).  But we are also reminded of the struggling human spirit that seeks justice and freedom. The compromises that Mandela made with the white leadership and his attempts to be inclusive and forgiving is prominently displayed. But his earlier statements are also visible as at the entrance “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  This is line with Mandela’s statement that freedom in South Africa will not be complete unless Palestine is also free. Of course to fit with the world structure, he had to modify his views that Zionism is racism.  Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is now receiving similar pressures because he told the truth that Zionism is a crime against humanity. 

The rich still get richer and the poor get poorer; 0.1% of the world population hold 81% of the wealth and the ratio of poverty to wealthy statistic went from 3:1 in 1820 to 35:1 in 1950 to nearly 80:1 today.   Sometimes liberation movements fall into the trap of power.  Many of those we met commented on how some members of ANC who came into government jobs at the end of Apartheid got spoiled by the material goods (houses, cars, bank account) that they forgot about the struggling people in the townships and the slums near the glittering skyscrapers. The tallest building in Johannesburg is the Reserve Bank!  My tears rolled as we passed by townships that are teaming with poor people because they reminded me of refugee camps in Lebanon, in Jordan, and in Palestine. The most heart wrenching was Diepsloot where 250,000 human beings live in shacks with sheet metal roofing.  Here we visited “Vuselela Ulwazi Lwakho Drop-in Center” (, founded by one woman nurse) where hundreds come weekly for counseling and treatment for AIDS (now a horrific pandemic in Africa).  I peaked into a hall and noticed nearly 100 children crammed together – they are the AIDS orphans who lost their parents to the disease (and a few other orphans).  I contrast these images of man-made poverty and disease with the posh gated communities of upwardly mobile mostly white South Africans.  It is like contrasting the posh life of the colonial Jewish setters in Palestine with the life in refugee camps. But the hope of the workers and users of this and other facilities show us how the goodness among humans can spread.

Ronnie Kasrils, South African minister once said about Palestine: “This is much worse than apartheid...Israeli measures, the brutality, make apartheid look like a picnic.  We never had Jets attacking our townships; we never had sieges that lasted months after months.  We never had tanks destroying houses.”  Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who headed the Truth and Reconciliation Committee said Israel has established an apartheid system and thus has engaged in crimes against humanity.  Both support the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Our conference of activists learned lessons from each other and we rededicated ourselves to a joint global struggle.  This is something we have been calling for as a global intifada against oppression, colonialism, and the neoliberal capitalist world order that makes the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  In visiting the freedom park we saw workers putting names on the wall of those who lost their lives for freedom.  Already 4300 names are on that wall (out of lists that could go up to 80,000).  One day, we will build a wall like that in Palestine to remember the 60,000 Palestinian martyrs.                                               Diepsloot Township, Johannesburg

These are not numbers but real people.

Arafat Jaradat died being tortured by the Israeli Apartheid regime last week and he was 30 years old.  Steve Biko died while being tortured by the South African Apartheid regime in 1977 and he was 31 years old. The two struggles are intertwined. The perceptive words of Steve Biko ring true today in Palestine, in South Africa, and around the world: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”  We the oppressed must free our minds from mental colonization before we liberate our body.  We are then really free to work for peace, justice, and freedom. This cannot be achieved without sacrifices/without revolution.
The wisdom of the Zulu is striking, as is their spirit of defiance.  We listened to the music played by young people and as we chatted with elders who all gave us hope for the future.  We learned to sing Hayo Matata (no worries) and to say Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (a person is a person because of others). The latter reminded me of Vittorio Arrigoni’s constant admonition to us to “stay human”.  To be human is to care about others, struggle for freedom and justice in a world of injustice.  Come to think of it to be human is then to be revolutionary!
 Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour He is author of "Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle" and “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A history of Hope and Empowerment.” Find this article at


Launch of Infrastructures for Peace international network

Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan was quoted as saying, "Essentially, the aim should be the creation of a sustainable national infrastructure for peace that allows societies and their governments to resolve conflicts internally and with their own skills, institutions and resources.”
Drums of Change announce news of the launch of Infrastructures for Peace international network!
Over the past few months a range of civil society organisations from around the world have shared information and begin working together to realise this initiative of constructing collaborative relationships amongst themselves and building and empowering local peace committees.
Infrastructures for Peace have been defined as the “dynamic network of interdependent structures, mechanisms, resources, values, and skills which, through dialogue and consultation, contribute to conflict prevention and peacebuilding in a society.”
The Infrastructures for Peace network initiative emerged out of the recognition that local peace infrastructures are powerful players in the prevention and de-escalation of conflict. These local actors have the ability to bring about sustainable and long-term change.
By creating a space where members and practitioners can come together, Infrastructures for Peace seeks to strengthen their coordination and share best practice so that their contribution to building peace can be even greater. The platform will also seek to ensure that Infrastructures for Peace and Local Peace Committees become more widely recognised nationally and internationally and that multiple stakeholders are introduced to the value of such institutions.
The process of inviting Local Peace Committees (LPCs), NGOs, practitioners and scholars to join the network began in December 2012. There has been a great deal of interest in the network thus far with over 70 member organisations from more than 30 countries around the world. Creating the network is a work in progress and we are committed to ensuring all members have an opportunity to influence and shape the network as it develops.
We encourage each of you to visit the site to learn more about this unique initiative and to consider how you or your networks might become involved. If you are interested in joining, please contact us by email: or circulate the weblink


 Communique on Political Settlements for Just Peace in Sierra Leone
“We the undersigned and supporters of the Peace and Development (PAD) Forum endorse  this communique’.
The National Civil Society Peace and Development (PAD) Forum, a platform for dialoguing, learning, sharing, and capturing of best practice, was organized in Bo City
Southern Region, Sierra Leone. The forum, which was organized by Partners in Conflict Transformation (PICOT), lasted for two days, 16th-17th January 2013 on the theme “Engaging Political Settlements for Just Peace in Sierra Leone.
Participants included peace-builders, human right activists, social workers, councilors, Paramount chiefs and chiefdom functionaries from the four regions of Sierra Leone.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                      PAD Members, Bo Town, Sierra Leone

The forum agreed that Sierra Leone has made some considerable progress since the end of the war as signified by the conduct of the multitier elections in 2012, the attempt to improve on infrastructure, social services and the agenda for prosperity to consolidate these gains.
We celebrate the fact that Sierra Leone has come this far in her drive to consolidate peace.
We affirm the common humanity that is at the core of African culture and draw attention to the great potential of Sierra Leoneans to take the lead in the transformation of our country.
We note with concern that despite these achievements more work have to be done to address the issues that can have a chilling effect in the effort to move the country forward.
We call on the Political Authorities and all Sierra Leoneans to urgently and energetically engage the following issues to forestall violence:
Security Alert
There is an overall rise in the use of force by the state and its security apparatus in its efforts to contain the tensions inherent in this conflict system. Coupled with the lack of access to justice and the interference of political elites in the justice system. This use of force further exacerbates the perception amongst civil society that the state is prepared to use any means necessary to drive its accumulative economic agenda.
Structural Factors
The hierarchical system of control and decision-making vested in the office of the President and senior politicians sets the tone for top-down decision-making and political influence.
This feeds into a system of patronage that connects the political and economic spheres leading to weak systems of accountability and enable this top-down system of political patronage to manipulate decision making at national, district, chiefdom and even village level.
Tensions continue to characterize the introduction of civil political structures as they overlap and appear to clash with customary forms of power and influence.
Dynamic Factors
The Elite use of judicial, security and media apparatus to influence public perceptions, manipulate decisions and maintain political influence and control has resulted to politicization of society at multiple levels and in all sectors linked to an emerging trend that has seen a reported rise in tribal sentiment across the Sierra Leone society.
The Lack of clarity over roles and responsibilities of Native Administration, local Councils and District Officers fuels negative perceptions regarding the functionality and effectiveness of these structures.
Structural Factors
The dominant state driven top-down model of economic development is centered on the extractive industry and large-scale bio-fuel and commercial food production.
This economic model is dependent on making land acquisition attractive to foreign investors.
The centrality of land to this extractive and profit driven external investment economic model clashes directly with the essential use of land for food production by small-scale subsistence farmers.
The built in contradictions between land as an essential source of life for people at village level and the need for the state to provide land for profit driven investments produces a fault line for rising tensions that will become violent if the pressure on land increases unchecked.
The politicization of development is inevitable under these conditions, compounded by the interference of the top-down model of political control being used by the political elite. Thus Communities remain highly isolated and marginalized from the mainstream economy.
Dynamic Factors
Contracts are not awarded impartially, with forms of political manipulation and patronage skewing the award of contracts and adding to perceptions of corruption and bias within the economic system.
Reports of anomalies in the payroll systems of state employees, especially within the education, health and agriculture systems, resulting in ghost employees and state employees not being paid undermine these systems and are a source of discontent.
Similarly the system of state subsidies for local officials has been tainted, with irregularities reported in who receives and who does not receive subsidies.
Resentment is mounting over revenue collection by the state and its representatives at local level because these revenues and how they are spent are largely unaccounted for compromising the State’s capacity to meet her Economic Cultural and Social (ECOSOC) obligations to the Citizenry.
SOCIO CULTURAL SPHERE (including the JUSTICE sector)
Structural Factors
Where policies have been developed and systems have been established they are often weak, poorly implemented or not put in place at all. This is particularly true in the education, health and agriculture sectors.
The efforts to move from a subsistence model of agriculture to a more mechanized model is being met with tensions and widespread reports of agricultural inputs being used for political or private gains and not collective or community purposes.
The land tenure system is still a source of tension that has not yet been properly resolved.
The tensions between the customary and civil forms of justice are still a source of tension at local level, disrupting life at village level.
Civil society and the Press have been politicized, undermining the potential for unity and a clear voice on key national issues.
Dynamic Factors
There is not enough information available on the Local Government Act of 2004 or the Chieftaincy Act of 2009, and these acts and their implications for decision making and policy at local level is not widely known or understood.
A general rise in tribal sentiment connected to the elections and the politicization of society at all levels has introduced a worrying trend into local interactions between people from different parts of the country associated with different tribes.
Access to Justice remains a serious challenge, with widespread perceptions of a corrupt and biased justice system that either delays or denies ordinary citizens access.
There is a widespread perception that citizens that are well connected to the ruling political elite can act with impunity.
Political interference in decision-making is most pronounced within the justice system.
Structural Factors
LAND as a source of life, central to ensuring food security at local level, and the primary pillar for the investment driven extractive focused economic development model
Dynamic Factors
The land related tensions are exacerbated by the environmental degradation of land associated with the extractive activities of companies, poor compensation for subsistence farmers and citizens affected by the acquisition of large tracts of land by mining companies and commercial agriculturalists, reports of displacement of people without sufficient dialogue, information or consent.
To the Government
  • The Government of Sierra Leone should launch and facilitate a comprehensive dialogue on key national issues such as the growing tribal and regional tensions and the large scale land acquisition at Chiefdom, District, Regional and National level with a view to creating common understanding, reconciliation, equitable gains for citizens and national cohesion.
  • Embark on a national constitutional review process that will enhance balance of political power with checks and balances. The review should be geared towards enhancing the independence of the Judiciary and separation of the office of Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
  •  Reaffirm the importance of the rule of law and expeditiously ensure its practice to curb impunity in our society.
  • Enact the Freedom of Information Bill into law so as to ensure free flow of vital information from the government to the public and for the Citizens to have the legal backing to provide oversight to Public investments.
  • Government to invest in functional informal education as a strategy to reducing the high illiteracy rate in the country and ensure that civic and political education are included in all educational curricular to promote nationalism with stress on national identity and cohesion, respect for national colours, anthems, pledge, symbols, cultural values etc.
  • To comprehensively implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report by enacting laws to focus those recommendations not presently attended to.
  • Set mechanisms in place for joint (State and Non-State Actors) oversight for effective delivery of social services (Education, Health, Energy and Agriculture).
  • Government to ensure functional devolution of the decentralization system with downward accountability enhanced.
  • Government to address the tensions associated with land lease and extractive industries by involving the affected communities in the negotiations and agreement made. To also ensure that the rights and interest of the people and the environment are protected.
To the Civil Society
  • Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) should restructure along thematic lines and be more accountable to each other and the Citizens.
  • CSOs should ensure that their interventions are preceded by research and baseline study and be more pro-active, formidable and objective to meet the challenges of accountable governance
  • Ensure to embark on programmes that will promote solidarity among the various civil society organizations, coalitions and platforms and strive to speak with one voice on issues of National Interest. 
  • Civil Society positions on national issues should reflect the voices of the masses and not the voices of individuals.
  • All CSOs should strive to enhance their capacities in the sector they operate so that they are more effective and credible.
To the Donor 
  • Donors to provide funding to CSOs to complement activities of the Government.
  • To provide technical support to the government and CSOs to be more effective in serving the people.

ACTION Global update - Centro Colaboracion Civica, Mexico

By: Raquel Lopez
Centro de Colaboración Cívica (CCC) prepares for new challenges on Citizen Security.  Since 2010,  CCC designed and has facilitated the “Dialogues on Citizen Security,” a program funded by the Open Society Foundations and the European Union (until 2011).  After three years of work, this dialogue process has been positioned as a legitimate and plural platform for the construction of proposals to improve public security in Mexico, with a focus on human rights.

The common agenda, created first with civil society and then enriched with inputs from lawmakers of the main political forces and by Federal Government officials, has been signed by 164 civil society organizations. This agenda has also been embraced by other important civil society platforms such as the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity and the 1st Citizens' Summit for a Peaceful, Fair, and Just Mexico, among others.
Centro de Colaboración Cívica Team, Mexico
It is worth noting that this dialogue process was unprecedented as it was able to achieve collaboration between different organizations working on the same issues that normally do not work together, either because of important differences in their ideological approaches or because they were not aware of other organizations and their efforts.
Other important achievements include:
  • A citizen agenda that serves as a point of reference for the actions of both civil society and decision makers.
  • The new General Law for the Rights of Victims of Violence and Human Rights Abuses incorporates the inputs provided by victims of violence and experts, resulting from dialogues facilitated by CCC.
  • A proposal to include five citizen council members in the National Council of Public Security was later taken up by other civil society platforms. The federal government also adopted this proposal in July 2012 and carried it forward by the next regular meeting.
  • The General Law for Social Prevention of Violence and Crime (adopted in December 2011) incorporates the recommendations resulting from the dialogue process.
 In addition to this, different items in the general agenda were taken up in both the security strategy announced by the new Federal Government, as well as in the agenda of the main political actors in the country through the “Pact for Mexico” (a political pact signed between the President and leaders from the three main political parties that outlines strategies to improve democratic processes in the country). 
This multi-stakeholder process and its tangible results demonstrate the importance of creating plural dialogue spaces that allow civil society to work collaboratively in order to promote common solutions to the country’s main problems. The start of a new administration represents a great opportunity to further promote a democratic security agenda, especially since the high levels of violence, crime and human rights violations continue to exist. However, this change also challenges the continuity of previous civil society efforts, particularly because of the social and political polarization after the July 2012 presidential elections.
In light of this challenge, we have modified our strategy in our work on Citizen Security for the coming years to better respond to the current political and social context in Mexico. Our new strategy is to create multi-stakeholder dialogue processes on specific issues of the citizen security agenda where there is broad consensus and considerable progress underway. In this way, CCC will continue to support civil society organizations in working collaboratively to develop and promote concrete policy proposals to improve the security and human rights situation in the country.
Centro de Colaboracion Civica (CCC) is a pioneering organization in the field of multi-sector conflict resolution and consensus building in Mexico.  Created in 2005, our mission is to promote a culture for dialogue, collaboration, and peaceful resolution of conflicts and to enable processes that strengthen democracy, sustainable development, and the rule of law in Mexico.   Since its creation, CCC has been part of an international network of organizations dedicated to the peaceful resolution of conflicts called Partners for Democratic Change International (PDCI). CCC has a professional team of experts in negotiation, mediation, facilitation of dialogues and consensus building. The methodology we use combines international best practices with the lessons learned in Mexican contexts and from other PDCI members.  Raquel Lopez is a staff member at CCC.

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