- Why did all effort in Somalia not bring peace and stability?
- Was the approach used in the previous Somali peace efforts relevant to the realities in Somalia?
The Potential of a True "From Bottom to the Top" Approach
If the top-down approach and quasi bottom-up approaches could not work, then, what approach might possibly solve the Somali problem? The simple answer is: a true bottom-up approach. From Bottom to the Top approach is a people-centered approach that advocates peace from within the affected societies and requires changing hearts and minds of the local people to get them to work for peace and reconciliation whole-heartedly. A pure bottom-up approach requires developing institutions from the grassroots level, developing local capacity for self-government, raising public awareness, promoting representation of all Somali communities, and providing an ideal environment for the development of local administrative units as the basis for a decentralized government. When strong regional administrations are established, it will be easier to establish a federal government. The bottom-up approach is, according to Mohamoud:
"Basically an internal affair and a locally driven peace process. The dominant players are the local-level leadership, such as the traditional elders, religious leaders, locality and community leaders, local traders and [the] network of grass-roots civic associations such as women, intellectuals, etc. The local-level leadership initiated the reconciliation procedures as a gradual process and attempted to build the peace step by step."
The Bottom-Up Approach as a Multi-Dimensional Process
In the bottom-up approach, the peace process should not be conceived of as a single process. In previous peace processes, efforts were made to establish a government for Somalia, but little had been done to raise the awareness of the people, to identify the social, cultural and political constraints for the process or to prepare the Somali society to accept the government. For lasting peace in Somalia, developing a local capacity and basic institutions is very crucial. Strategic accessibility and the mobilization of those localities and communities, and sections of society like elders and women, who are willing to be involved in the process, are also crucial steps in attaining peace.
The Role of Women
At this point I would like to emphasize the role that women could play in uniting divided communities in Somalia. In traditional Somali society women "play an indirect but important part in conflict resolution. In the early stages of a conflict they can act as peace envoys for their clans and are sometimes the 'first messengers sent between disputing clans to break the ice." Even during the course of the civil war, "women across Somalia have been deeply involved in peace promotion and peace-making." In the grassroots and community level, women have respect and could exert influence over their traditional leaders (clan leaders), elders and politicians. Understanding this fact, the Life and Peace Institute has put "a strong focus on the empowerment of women as peacebuilders, through direct capacity building and training, or support to special women's meetings." Therefore, women should be empowered in order to be at the forefront of any peace efforts in Somalia. They should be allowed to participate in any future peace and reconciliation conferences and decision-making processes.
Marriage as a Tool of Peace
Another thing that could contribute to peacebuilding from the grassroots level in Somalia is identifying cross-clan and sub-clan marriage relations. In Somali society, marriage across clans and sub-clans is prevalent. "Marriage in Somali society is a contract between families or lineages... and young people are encouraged to marry into a group where new relations can be established." Marriage relationships are a binding force among different clans and sub-clans and could help them develop close relationships and solve any disagreements through peaceful means. "Cross-clan marriages create diplomatic relations between groups, and are therefore treated with respect." Marriage strengthens bonds between lineages and often creates a basis for interaction among different clans and sub-clans. Thus, in a bottom-up approach to peacebuilding, cross-clan marriage relations could be used to solve disagreements among communities. People who have marriage connections from different clans and sub-clans could play a crucial role in narrowing the differences and perceptions among rival communities to work together toward lasting peace. NGOs and Civil Society: In the building of a local capacity, the NGOs and civil society could contribute a lot in the peaceprocess in Somalia, through awareness raising programs, and by undertaking different socio-economic projects that benefit the local people. Civil society organizations and NGOs could raise the hopes of people of different clans by changing their hearts and minds in order to develop mutual trust and confidence, so that all can work for lasting peace whole-heartedly. The warlords and fighters, who have savaged the country, are sons of these people. If the society could develop confidence and trust in each other, it might be easy to eliminate warlordism.
From Bottom to the Top Approach and Somali Traditional Peace and Reconciliation Mechanism
The From Bottom to the Top approach has clear appeal in Somalia, when we see Somali traditional peace and reconciliation mechanisms called Xeer. "Xeer is a precedent-based social code which is understood to apply to all Somali people and served as a necessary restraint and moderating guide in disagreements and feuds between groups and individuals ? [it is] equivalent to an ad hoc village council and at which all males are ostensibly permitted to voice their concerns." It is the most democratic tactic, which solves disputes peacefully and allows all people to participate equally in the process of electing their leaders and establishing their administration.
Executive Director of the Terror Free Somalia Foundation, a national grassroots organization that opposes terrorism and supports democracy in Africa.The London conference on Somalia
Khaatumo state Of Somalia have Some Advice For The Participants At The London Conference
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