In conflict-torn countries, with South Sudan as the best example, a hundred mediators tender in their experience in mediation in an attempt to mediate the conflict. But the tragedy is that such candidates for mediation are not interviewed to know their capabilities and interest. Another tragedy is that such mediators are not diagnosed to know whether or not one, two, three, or all of them are pathogens of conflict so as not to aggravate the conflict to a nebulous level.
Some mediators may either be agents of one conflicting side or enemies of your friend, wanting to squeeze you because you are a friend to their enemies. But the overall agenda in mediation is ‘interest’. Some mediators, if not all, come uninvited and when allowed, give conditions, but they do not call them conditions, they call them necessities of mediation or interests. Imagine mediators conditioning the warring sides, what is that? Are they solving the problem or exacerbating it? Instead of making mediation the priority, they make their interest the priority! How would peace be achieved in such a situation?
To me, they are solving the problem by first exacerbating it. And any problem solved by first exacerbating it is like a wound being healed by first infecting it. Do you think that wound would heal? Yes, it would heal, but it would take months, if not years, to heal. Any problem taking years to get solved because of being complicated by mediators has profound effects on people.
I do not know whether it takes place in other countries at war, but when South Sudan breaks into war, it does not take a month for mediators to emerge. Thanks for their quick intervention, but wait, I am not done with what I am saying. After being allowed to mediate, because anybody can mediate war in South Sudan as long as his/her skin color is brown or white, they immediately change their eyes and venture into imposing their interest on the warring sides. The worst of all happens when mediators tell the warring sides to do this and that, and any failure to do so, we will withdraw, and you will smell it a rat.
What comes into your mind when you hear your mediators saying that? If you do not conclude it that you have allowed wrong mediators to solve your problem, then you have a mental problem. Should mediators threaten? Should mediators insult the nature of the individuals warring?
The answer is “NO” in capital letters. Mediators should soothe the conflicting sides. In fact, mediators should not even call the warring sides by their family names, they should call them by their nicknames so as to please them by all means to accept sitting at the table for negotiations.
A healthy and fruitful mediation touches the history of the country to remind the warring sides of how they had struggled to bring the country to the present day, touches the progress of the country and how fast the country would grow if war were not caused shortly. The struggle histories of the main actors of war can even be played to stimulate them to think twice and when they think twice that second thought is not far from coming to a consensus with one another.
If South Sudan is not gotten as a country where anyone, including cripples, can threaten and life goes on simply, then a mediator should never think of threatening. As I alluded to earlier that anyone can mediate war in South Sudan as long as his/her skin color is brown or white, I’m also as right as rain to say, even a South Sudanese with a brown skin color staying in a Whiteman’s land can find his/her way in the mediation team and the mediation goes on as normal. Not every mediator is fit to mediate and that is why people say, the best mediator is you.
The author is a medical student, University of Juba.