2011 progress report to the Global Alliance for
Ministries and Departments of Peace
Country: South Africa
Campaign: Department of Peace – South Africa
GA Contact Person: Karen Barensché
Contact Email: Karen@sapeacealliance.org.za
South African Campaign for the establishment of a Department of Peace in government
Organization: South African Peace Alliance
Contact person: Karen Barensché – Executive Director
Brief history of our campaign
The South African Peace Alliance (SAPA) was registered in 2007 with the objective of establishing a Department of Peace in the South African government which will develop a national peacebuilding strategy and oversee and coordinate programmes and practices that reduce and prevent violence. It was started by Karen Barensché who had attended the Global Alliance summit in Japan in 2006. She was inspired by the campaign to establish infrastructures for peace and to create and engender a culture of peace. Despite the fact that South Africa’s transition to a democracy was remarkably peaceful, and our Truth and Reconciliation Commission accomplished significant and extraordinary outcomes, it is not a peaceful country. South Africa continues to experience high levels of crime and violence, and has in recent years been subject to outbreaks of xenophobic violence against the many refugees who pour across our borders. This situation is exacerbated by extensive poverty and often low levels of literacy, numeracy and availability of jobs. We realize that peace and prosperity go hand-in-hand and so we support as an urgent imperative a focus on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
At the beginning of 2010 the South African Peace Alliance held its first Annual General Meeting to put the organization onto a more formal footing and to appoint a board of directors. The board held its first meeting in February 2010. This formalization of the SAPA, with a board of directors which holds the executive accountable, has made a huge difference to the way the organization operates and the outcomes it is achieving. Our vision is of a peaceful society that embraces unity through diversity, supported by a Department of Peace. Our mission is to establish a Department of Peace in South Africa through developing strategic alliances with all sectors of society, locally and internationally.
Up to the present time the organisation has operated with very small donations and volunteer workers only. This has hindered our progress and we have begun implementing funding strategies which include proposals for funding and fund raising events.
Current Status of our campaign
The SAPA’s campaign currently consists of three main areas. Our objectives are to:
- Develop a policy proposal and draft bill for submission to government. This includes but is not limited to, research into the campaigns of other countries to establish Departments or Ministries of Peace, and research into the economics of peace. We are currently developing a policy proposal which would also form the basis of a draft bill, to include:
- why a department of peace is essential to developing a culture of peace and why it is vital that infrastructures for peace should be supported and formalised by government;
- what the functions of such a department would be including the coordination and distribution of information and resources to achieve peacebuilding objectives, establishing strategic alliances with all sectors of society to promote a culture of peace in South Africa, and providing an umbrella institution for peace-focused organisations;
- who would be involved in the department of peace from within government and from society at large;
- when it should be established and how it would operate within the structures of government
- Identify and ensure the support of other key organisations. Although the SA Peace Alliance has obtained the support of some key peace focused organisation, this number is insufficient to achieve our overall objective. The organisations we will connect with are those that stand for the principles of peace and healing in our society and will support the establishment of a Department of Peace. These organisations are both public and private, profit and non-profit. Up until the present we have developed alliances on an informal basis. However our SAPA constitution has recently been amended to allow for institutional membership and the drive to enlist organisations which support our objectives, has been intensified. Our target groups are NGOs and civil society, academe, business and government.
- Develop a plan for the political process. In particular, identify a champion* within government who will adopt this campaign and ensure that the process is followed through and that government adopts the policy and draft bill. Furthermore, the plan includes identifying and influencing the key political decision makers. We are currently investigating ways in which our campaign may be adopted by a government department which will provide the resources for and possibly undertake the research required to establish a new government department and find a suitable ministry or other department within which it could be most impactful and successful.
Our intention is to have completed all these activities by September 2012, which is when the present majority party in government holds its policy conference.
As mentioned above there will be more emphasis on raising funds to support the work of the SAPA so that key staff can be employed to fulfill the mandates of the organization.
Global Alliance Summit
Karen Barensché and her team of volunteers is currently working on the GA summit to be held in October 2011. This has been a mammoth task and promises to be a most successful summit.
The South African Peace Alliance: www.sapeacealliance.org.za
Karen Barensche: email@example.com
* In South Africa only members of parliament may put forward and propose new legislation