The opening ceremony was presided over by Mr. Peter Thuku, the Secretary of Peace Building & Disaster Response, Ministry of Interior – Republic of Kenya together with Dr. Koang Tutlam, representing IGAD Chair –Ethiopia; Amb. Tewolde Gebremeskel, IGAD’s Director of Peace and Security Division; Mr. Jean-Francis Joh Epoko, Team Leader, Great Lakes Region, Department of Political Affairs, UN and Amb. Welile Nhlapo, Senior Political Advisor, The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD).
Amb. Gebremeskel in his opening remarks and keynote address on behalf of His Excellency Amb (Eng) Mahboub Maalim, the Executive Secretary of IGAD noted that IGAD is committed and takes peace and security as a prerequisite for the development and regional integration of its region.
He also added that IGAD has continuously pursued settlements through dialogue and mediation through inclusive power sharing towards resolving conflicts in the IGAD region.
In the same spirit, Mr. Jean-Francis Joh Epoko commended IGAD for the relentless efforts and deep commitment to mediation for peace. UN and IGAD will continue to collaborate in operationalizing peace processes and strengthening mediation capacity in the region.
Amb. Welile Nhlapo, Senior Political Advisor, ACCORD also highlighted that the journey towards successful mediation is a collective effort hence requires partnerships, full commitment and flexibility to combat the different traditional and non-traditional conflicts affecting the IGAD region.
On behalf of the host country, Mr. Peter Thuku pointed out the sophiscated and complex challenges being faced by the IGAD region as well those emerging like terrorism, violent extremism among others pose major threats to the values of democratic societies as well as rights and freedoms of citizens which as a result requires shared expertize and experiences, formulating multi-prong, multi-stakeholder to be addressed.
The five day retreat organized by the IGAD Mediation Support Unit (MSU) and by ACCORD and UNDP will notably highlight the role IGAD has played in resolving the conflicts within the region as well as reflect on the experiences from the past mediation processes, the past and current challenges of mediation.
The retreat will also discuss and consider the opportunities of addressing the challenges facing mediators and mediation efforts in the region leveraging on the experiences of the UN and AU on conflict prevention and mediation and further strengthen discussion on increased participation of women and youth in conflict prevention and peace making.
Through the retreat IGAD and partners are aiming at operationalizing the IGAD roster of mediators; strengthening capacities of IGAD and its member states as well as learn from the past experiences and forge way to identify best practices.
The well seasoned mediators attending the retreat are from UN, AU, COMESA and IGAD Special Envoys to South Sudan, Sudan and members of the roster.