CEPO Report: The Role of Media in Covering the 2nd Phase of the HLRF in Ethiopia

Posted: April 21, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in CEPO, December 2013 Crisis, HLRF, Junub Sudan

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO): PRESS RELEASES ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE 2ND IGAD-LED HLRF PHASES IN FEBRUARY 2018

Edmund Yakani

MR. EDMUND YAKANI BERIZILIOUS is the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), a Juba-based South Sudanese civil society organization.

April 21, 2018 (SSB) — The national media coverage of the IGAD-led High-Level Revitalization Forum second phase from 5th through 16th February 2018, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The South Sudanese publicly admitted that the role media played in providing daily information on the progress and challenges met during the 2nd Phase of HLRF was remarkable and informative.

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization could like to thank IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, IGAD Secretariat, ARCSS Revitalization Taskforce with support from UNESCO, The UN Peacebuilding Fund, UNDP, The Government of Japan, Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission-JMEC and The Government of Federal Republic of Ethiopia leadership for positively responding to our call made to them to allow national media/journalists to report on HLRF directly from Addis Ababa to the public.

Mr. Edmund Yakani, Executive Director says allowing information freely flow to the public is a great element of transforming and keeping citizens engage. Citizens’ transformation and engagement is determinate by their participation which is fully depending on how accurate information they gained from primary sources. South Sudanese will freely take the responsibility of ownership of the HLRF outcomes if they are well informed with accurate primary information on HLRF deliberations. IGAD jointly with JMEC should lobby Ethiopia authorities to allow South Sudanese media to directly cover the HLRF. It is important for the purpose of building citizens trust and confidence on the outcomes of HLRF.

South Sudanese will have faster trust and confidence on the outcomes of the HLRF if national media is directly engaged in covering the HLRF progress. Keeping the citizens and the public in the dark – enables political leaders and other parties to manipulate information on HLRF progress. Mr. Yakani stressed

CEPO strongly would like to inform South Sudanese negotiating parties, stakeholders, IGAD, JMEC and their partners that, the media daily reports on the 2nd HLRF phase built public trust and confidence in positive HLRF outcomes including reduction of hostilities and hate speech associated with peace mediation in social media.

Finally, media coverage of HLRF is vital to inform citizens regarding conflict mediation.

“The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) is a non-profit, civil society, South Sudanese organization, registered by the Ministry of Justice on 17th November 2010. The organization was initially formed in Khartoum in 1999 and consisted of mostly University students, but its scope broadened after it was established in Juba, Southern Sudan as a separate entity. Presently, CEPO is engaged in the areas of Peace and conflict mitigation, human rights, rule of law, livelihood, governance and democratic transformation. MR. EDMUND YAKANI BERIZILIOUS is the Executive Director of CEPO.”

REPORT BY THE COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT FOR PROGRESS ORGANIZATION (CEPO): THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN COVERING THE 2ND PHASE OF HIGH-LEVEL REVITALIZATION FORUM (HLRF) FROM THE 5TH THROUGH 16TH OF FEBRUARY 2018, ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA

Media is Mediator of Conflict” Melissa Baumann and Hannes Siebert (Winter 1993), pp. 28-32   

Abstract:  This report attempts to justify the importance of involving media in covering the revitalization of the South Sudan peace agreement under the IGAD-led High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF). The South Sudanese publicly admitted that the role media played in providing daily information on the progress and challenges met during the 2nd Phase of HLRF was remarkable and informative. The alternative – keeping the citizens and the public in the dark – enables political leaders and other parties to manipulate information on HLRF progress. The media daily reports on HLRF built public trust and confidence in positive HLRF outcomes including reduction of hostilities and hate speech associated with peace mediation in social media. Media coverage is vital to inform citizens regarding conflict mediation.

Acknowledgment

Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) expresses appreciation to IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan, IGAD Secretariat and ARCSS revitalization taskforce and funders for facilitating some South Sudanese owned media houses and journalists to cover and daily report to the public the progress met and challenges faced in revitalizing ARCSS in Addis Ababa.

CEPO especially thanks UNESCO, The UN Peacebuilding Fund, UNDP, and the Government of Japan and Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission-JMEC leadership for positively responding to our call made to them to allow national media/journalists to report on HLRF directly from Addis Ababa to the public.

Same appreciation is extended to the Editors in chief of various media houses effectively engaged in reporting from Addis Ababa or reporting the progress and challenges made in the HLRF. CEPO thanks the editors in chief of the media houses that contributed write-ups on their experiences in covering HLRF to be compiled in this report.

CEPO appreciates the staffs that were involved in compiling this report.

Thanks to everybody involved in allowing national media houses to directly report on HLRF process from Addis Ababa to the public.

THANKS TO ALL

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

CEPO and the Association of Media Development in South Sudan (AMDISS) with support from UNESCO and the UN Peacebuilding Fund, UNDP, JMEC and the Government of Japan conducted training for 50 journalists from 1 – 2 February in Juba. The workshop which took place under the theme “the role of media in peacebuilding” served as a timely platform to update the media on the High Level Revitalization Forum on the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan and to increase journalists’ knowledge on Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in order to ensure that the public is well informed through media on the progress and violations of the agreement to deter the warring parties from further violations. http://www.unesco.org/new/en/juba/about-this-office/single-view/news/enhancing_the_implementation_of_the_peace_agreement_through/)

  1. SUMMARY

National media coverage of peace mediation was not a common practice in South Sudan after 2013. Formation of the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan in August 2015 was not adequately covered by national media outlets in South Sudan.  Only one media outlet, namely Eye Radio http://www.eyeradio.org, provided coverage due to support from USAID.

2013 to 2015 Eye Radio coverage of peace mediation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia enabled CEPO to increase serious advocacy and to lobby for coverage by other media outlets for the second phase of the revitalization of the Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa in Feb. 2018.

Peace dialog in the local community proves that effective coverage from the national media increased citizens’ trust and confidence in positive outcomes. CEPO is now aware that when citizens are not well informed, their confidence in the outcomes of the peace mediation is very low. This enables the enemies of peace to provide wrong interpretations on the outcomes of peace mediation.

The signing of the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan was portrayed as a foreign-imposed peace accord. This eroded public trust and confidence in the peace deal, which resulted in the citizens not holding the parties to the peace accord accountable. Through careful tracking, it was realized that limited involvement of the media had serious consequences. When citizens are informed, they are empowered to hold the parties accountable they have the will to see the accord implemented.

The media coverage of the 2nd HLRF effectively contributed in reducing “Fake News” around the HLRF outcomes. The media coverage showed conflicting parties and generated pressure on them and their allies to demonstrate openness to the process.

Finally, the media paced the narrative on the HLRF and helped set expectations about progress for making peace happen in South Sudan. Therefore, media coverage of the HLRF process is essential and should be considered an official part of the process.

  1. OVERALL VIEW (COVERING 2ND HLRF)

The role played by South Sudan national media outlets in covering the second phase of IGAD-led High Revitalization Forum (HLRF) on South Sudan, which was signed Aug. 2015, peace agreement in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was remarkable and influential. A majority of citizens admitted they were well informed about the 2nd phase of HLRF, whereas that was not true during the previous peace mediation processes. The 2nd HLRF phase was covered by FM radio stations, namely UN Radio Miriya FM, South Sudan Broadcasting Cooperation (Radio and TV), Bakita FM, and three daily newspapers, namely Juba Monitor, Radio Tamajzu online, and Al-Magif Arabic newspaper. Those media outlets effectively kept the public informed about the newest developments on HLRF.

Public opinion assessed only within Juba City was that they were closely following the HLRF processes through media updates. The public admitted that the media coverage increased their trust and confidence in the process of the HLRF. The public expressed the opinion that the 2nd HLRF media coverage has stopped them being influenced by Fake News as happened previously during ARCSS mediation from 2014-2015.

  1. CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE MEDIA HOUSES/OUTLET

(i) RADIO TAMAZUJ. COVERAGE OF THE 2ND HLRF (HTTPS://RADIOTAMAZUJ.ORG/EN)

Undoubtedly, media plays a key role in conflict and peace situations all over the world, and we are aware that the media in South Sudan is still in its infancy. In many developing countries including South Sudan, independent media, in particular, feels a sense of alienation when it comes to news reporting on issues deemed sensitive by governments. Media can work both ways in any country – to ignite violence or to settle peace. We believe media in South Sudan, whether government or independent, plays a pivotal role in peace and stability. It is necessary for the well-being of the people of South Sudan and all sectors, including the media industry.

The Radio Tamazuj team believes that information is the foundation of all human rights and democratic transformation and that it is especially vital in times of crisis and peace. The latest push for South Sudan peace talks in the region and the international community has attracted the attention of those who want South Sudan to have peace and stability after the devastating war that has forced more than four million innocent South Sudanese to flee their homes, creating Africa’s largest refugee crisis.

Radio Tamazuj, as one of the popular and trusted news outlets in the country, also understands the nature of the devastating civil war since it broke out in December 2013. We felt that it was our moral responsibility to update the people of South Sudan with reliable information on the peace negotiations between the key stakeholders during the second round of peace talks, because the people of South Sudan were eager to know what was going on in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The team of Radio Tamazuj decided to take the lead to cover the 2nd High-Level Revitalization Forum from morning until late hours because there was fake and misleading news on social media. As many people know very well, there are untrusted information sources in South Sudan known for spouting propaganda and posting updates with unverified news articles on the second round of the peace talks.

RT coverage of the 2nd HLRF

  1. Our professional team of journalists and editors dedicated its time and effort during the two weeks of the second phase of the revitalization forum to report what was going on inside and outside the conference hall in Addis Ababa despite the exclusion of all journalists from attending the talks between the warring parties.
  2. The team widened its networks at the peace talks to make sure that all key stakeholders including civil society groups at the peace talks were given equal opportunity to express their views freely despite difficulties in bringing the government on board sometimes.
  3. The team worked tirelessly to get accurately report as many details as possible during the peace talks by engaging all the negotiators despite lack of willingness from some of the stakeholders to brief the public on what happened during the peace talks.

Recommendations

  1. The role of the media must be recognized as a valuable tool for change in South Sudan.
  2. The press is often described as the “fourth power” because of its Influence on public opinion and indirect influence on informing decisions, so journalists should attend the peace negotiations next time to observe the situation and report accurately.
  3. Independent media acts as the watchdog to protect the public interest against malpractice and corruption, so it should be given freedom.

(ii) EYE RADIO: EVALUATION OF EYE RADIO’S COVERAGE OF HLRF – PHASE II (HTTP://EYERADIO.ORG/)

Two Eye Radio’s journalists, Alhadi Awari and Rosemary Wilfred, were in Addis Ababa and covered the revitalization forum for ten (10) days. The second phase of the High-Level Revitalization Forum commenced on February 5, 2018, in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. During this round of talks, the parties deliberated on how to achieve a full and inclusive implementation of the revitalized agreement, and how to restore and sustain a permanent ceasefire with revived timelines and implementation schedule.

The stakeholders also discussed ways to strengthen the 2015 peace agreement in the revitalization of the peace process.

Eye Radio spoke to representatives of the TGoNU, the opposition groups, civil society, religious leaders, women and youth groups among many other stakeholders during the first week in the talk in Addis Ababa. The first week was riddled with disagreements over a number of issues, including the declaration of principles, the number of the members of the transitional parliament, and the state of emergency.  All the parties except the government signed the declaration of principles, which is considered as the basis for deliberations.

The coverage in morning and evening hours.  Eye Radio has been updating listeners in the dawn show (Eye Radio’s current affairs morning program) from 7 – 8am, news bulletins every day, and at 8pm every evening. Most of Eye Radio callers were very impressed by the live coverage from Addis Ababa. Many of them called Eye Radio news line during night hours appreciating the work.  Eye Radio started the live broadcast in Eye Radio’s mobile studio in Addis Ababa on the second day of the talks – Tuesday at 6am and at 7:30am.

Elements of live coverage in Addis and Juba

  1. Journalists act as first-hand witnesses to the events and counter-rumors
  2. Accuracy in reporting
  3. Proximity to party representatives for interviews and opinions
  4. Freedom to speak to opposition groups which is impossible from South Sudan
  5. South Sudanese in the Diaspora have a chance to speak to the people back home through the reporters in Addis
  6. Opportunity to balance stories instantly
  7. No intimidation of Journalists from Addis, contrary to reporting from Juba.

Concerns from the Journalists

  1. Delays and difficulties in obtaining visas,
  2. Long hours waiting at Bole airport for clearance by IGAD,
  3. Request for all travel arrangements to be done on time to avoid inconveniences,
  4. No updates from IGAD, JMEC and Special Envoys about the talks,
  5. All meetings were closed door,
  6. Journalists to be allowed to enter the conference room to photograph proceedings.

Improved coverage is needed next time

  1. Journalists to request space at the venue to broadcast,
  2. IGAD and JMEC officials to give daily updates to Journalists about negotiations, outcome and challenges,
  3. IGAD and JMEC should each assign one official whom Journalists can approach anytime for one-on-one interviews.

(iii) PAANLUEL WEL: SOUTH SUDANESE BLOGGER: PAANLUEL WËL: ASSESSING THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN THE ONGOING IGAD-LED HLRF (HTTPS://PAANLUELWEL.COM)

As the fourth arm of the government, the media in South Sudan has the noble role and moral duty to inform, educate, guide and engage the South Sudanese public, the government and the opposition parties by offering unbiased reporting, constructive criticism and critical analysis of the raging civil war and the present search for peace in South Sudan. However, in the concurrently ongoing National Dialogue Initiative and the IGAD-led High-Level Revitalization Forum of the 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS), the media has utterly failed to play their constructive roles and moral duty to adequately inform, fully educate, and actively engage the people of South Sudan to better understand the challenges and appreciate the opportunities for peace and political stability presented by the IGAD-led HLRF. Nonetheless, the media has a chance to redeem itself and regain the trust of the people in the third phase of the IGAD-led HLRF.

(iv) CATHOLIC RADIO NETWORK (CRN) EXPERIENCE IN COVERING THE SECOND PHASE OF THE REVITALIZATION FORUM (HTTP://CATHOLICRADIONETWORK.ORG/)

CRN’s experience in covering the second phase of the Revitalization Forum for South Sudan at United Nations Economic Commission for Africa or UNECA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In the first place, I want to register my appreciation for the chance given to CRN to cover the second phase of the Revitalization of the agreement to inform South Sudanese people on the process.

Benefits are as follow:

  1. The talks were the first for CRN to attend but provided very good exposure and a high chance to give the people of South Sudan the correct and new information from the forum.
  2. CRN was able to talk to all sides: Nine opposition groups represented by their spokespersons, the government represented by spokesperson civil society organization, youth, and women groups.
  3. CRN was able to balance its news because all sides were close.
  4. CRN was able to interview many politicians and activists individually or in a group.
  5. The presence of CRN in Addis Ababa gave people hope when there were reports of some agreements.

Difficulties

  1. Traveling process was hurried
  2. Delay at Juba Airport because communication was not done on time
  3. Delay at Addis Ababa Airport because immigration processes were not complete
  4. Arrival after the opening, so our audience countrywide did not get the opening session of the Forum.
  5. Mediators were not briefing us regularly so some media houses gave out fake news about the talks.

Recommendations

  1. Traveling process should be done earlier to avoid delays at both airports because of communication challenges.
  2. Early processing of tickets will enable us to cover the opening session.
  3. Mediators should regularly brief the journalists so that some media houses do not confuse people back home about the talks.

(v) JUBA MONITOR NEWSPAPER: EXPERIENCE OF JUBA MONITOR COVERING THE 2ND PHASE OF HLRF

Juba Monitor newspaper being the leading English newspaper in South Sudan took the lead in covering the second phase of the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa from February 5th to February 16th, 2018.

The coverage was led by Juba Monitor News Editor who was at the Forum to cover the progress of the discussions, and the Juba Monitor team in Juba helped in covering other events outside Addis Ababa associated with the peace talks.

Our dedicated reporting helped dispel misleading information circulating in social media as our reporter on the ground provided us with daily news articles covering the discussions each day.

Due to our coverage of the 2nd phase of the HLRF, we got huge feedback from our readership about the good work we did. The reporter on the ground also individually got appreciation from the readers for his hard work which kept the public informed.

Juba Monitor provided the platform for all the participants at the forum to give their views on the peace talks. The government officials, the opposition leaders, the civil society, women, youth and the religious leaders all got the chance to air their views on the process. Most importantly, the presence of our journalist at the forum helped provide the platform for the opposition delegates who are hard to access.

The presence of the reporter helped in getting first-hand information from the discussions as our previous coverage relied on secondhand information which was hard to verify and time-consuming.

The role of the media in the peace process cannot be disputed. We, therefore, would want to continue with coverage of the discussions if resources allow.

In conclusion, it is important to have local journalists cover the progress of the HLRF for the South Sudanese back home. The public relies on the local media for updates from the HLRF. The main challenges that should be addressed are the issue of accreditation and reluctance by some groups to provide information or talk to the press.

(vi) DAWN NEWSPAPER

It is the pleasure of the Dawn Newspaper Management to have a say on the HLRF oversight report. Although being one of the leading national newspapers in the Republic of South Sudan which has considerable constituencies of readers in the capital Juba and the States, the Dawn did not cover the HLRF proceedings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Prior to the convention of the revitalization, The Dawn Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Michael Koma, and other Editors attended a meeting in America Residence in Juba in which he stressed to Mr. Mark of the US Embassy the importance of involving the local Journalists in covering the proceedings of HLRF.

Most media houses in South Sudan are facing the acute financial crisis; they cannot afford to pay air tickets and accommodations for their reporters in Ethiopia. Hence we appealed to the donor countries to support the media houses in reporting on the HLRF. We believe each media house has the responsibility to contribute in bringing peace to South Sudan and we in the Dawn believed strongly in the realization of peace in the country.

Although we had participated in the two previous rounds, we applaud our colleagues in the other media houses for having done a wonderful job of informing the public of every-day activity in Addis Ababa. We envied their work and we felt we would have added a different flavor. The reporting of our colleagues had made the public well informed of the revitalization. It has generated interest in the peace process. It has pricked the government conscious that the people of South Sudan want peace. The media reporting has exposed the government as a party against peace and this prompted the government to brief the public about government position. The pressure that the local reporters could bring to bear on the warring parties is important. We cannot rely on the international media to tell our story. South Sudan audience believes in the national media more than the international; our readers had wondered why the Dawn was left out. We wondered too. However, we had assurances that the Dawn would be included in the coming rounds of the revitalization.  Government officials trusted the Dawn; it would be an asset for the Dawn to have the presence in Addis Ababa

(vii) CITIZENS CONTRIBUTION:  SOUTH SUDAN: THE IMPORTANCE OF MEDIA IN THE SOCIETY

Posted: March 14, 2018, by PaanLuel Wël in Junub Sudan. By Awuol Gabriel Arok, Juba, South Sudan

March 14, 2018 (SSB) — Media is a communication channel through which news, entertainment, education, data, or promotional messages are disseminated. Media comes in many different formats, including print media (books, magazines, and newspapers), radios, televisions, movies, video games, music, cell phones, billboards, direct mail, and various kinds of software, fax and the Internet. Each type of media involves users (senders and receivers), content, and also a device or object through which the content is delivered under the Media practice and Law of that particular society.

Media is a tool that shapes the living style and activities of mankind, media is educative, media is a stool pigeon and media is entertaining hence; making it the beautiful and comprehensive form of exchange and review.

During the pre-modernization era messages were either pass through words of mouth with messengers covering distances of miles on foot taking the number of days before they could be reached the intended receiver(s) or messages within the same geographical locations were communicated through drums beating, Ululations, screaming and horns blowing. Today our contemporary world have gone ahead with more diversified media forms such as Web sites, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, emails, fax and many more.

Last year when the issue of fuel crisis hit the switching button of a Media house that prints Juba Daily Newspapers such as Juba Monitor, The Dawn Newspaper, This Day, Almaugif and Alwatan that week went so blank; it was like a century of darkness, in media; messages of hope, entertainment and development are pass and digest by the consumers. Within the house of media what is beyond individual reach is brought to his/her doorstep for consumption. Through media, writers use books, newspapers, magazines and social Media to write opinions and documentation. With the media, journalists are able to inform the public day in and out, sculptors, painters, comedians, cartoonists, and musicians have a podium of passing their messages of social education and entertainments.

Media is the power that drives human soul; in media there is no news that is bad news because any news in its nature has already confirmed its description of being News, the roof of media house is made up of what happened and not purely on the best part of how it happened as long as it has been authenticated by the right sender and deliver to the right receiver.

Media is the powerhouse that shelter truth and mysteries, it comfort the soul and at a time scratch it depending on the size of its roofing. Above all media practitioners and beneficiaries are always on the steering wheel of the “information and justice for all” under the guiding stick of individual rights, philosophical cohesiveness, respect, and understanding.

Purely media is never an enemy to the individual but a switching hub through which individual opinions are shared for possible judgment, consumptions and correction hence, leading to exposure of social injustice and justice on individual or group of people.

Media is a power that houses the information world but a bitter drop of destruction when abuse and misuse by the users. Media should not be abused at an individual wish because a person cannot make media, it is every one effort meant to cover all aspects of social, economic and political living of the society.

Awuol Gabriel Arok, a Writer, and a Poet, has a Bachelor Degree in Social and Developmental Studies from the University of Juba, South Sudan, he is the author of the unpublished book ‘‘The Wisdom Horn’’ and an Initiator of ‘‘Your Tribe is My Tribe’’ and ‘‘Giving Heart Foundation’’ initiatives. He can be reached via his email Address: jjmkamzeearokson@yahoo.comSources:  https://paanluelwel.com/2018/03/14/the-important-of-media-in-the-society/

(viii) RELEVANCE AND ADDED VALUE OF MEDIA COVERAGE OF HLRF

The importance of a free, professional and plural media in South Sudan is paramount at this critical situation. It will add value to the ongoing HLRF in Addis Ababa. A vibrant media gives people free-flowing access to information, enables negotiation, encourages people to express their views, and indirectly prompts greater political participation of the citizens.

The media houses in South Sudan should play a major role in peacebuilding by sensitizing citizens to relevant information on the peace process. The media can add value by promoting inclusivity and popular ownership of not only the HLRF process and the ACoH in particular but also the implementation of any peace-related activity among different stakeholders in South Sudan. We, therefore, promote a competent and free media to serve as a credible component in creating and building civil society and stability in post-conflict South Sudan.

Media is the only way most South Sudanese citizens access credible information on the current state of affairs where Social media, a technology designed to bring people together, seems to be doing the opposite by spreading false rumors and hateful speech during the phase II of the HLRF.  For example, the media played a major role in educating the citizens on how the peace talks were going. Radio houses like Eye radio reported live from Addis Ababa, giving a lot of hope to the already disturbed population.

Media and journalists have been victims of the ongoing conflict. Even so, the news media and journalists are at the forefront of peace-building initiatives because, when they function effectively, they are crucial for the safeguarding of peace and democracy.

A reliable and diverse media that can express itself freely provides early warning of potential outbreaks of conflict. Media also helps alert and mobilize the international community particularly about the HLRF. During this peace-building process, it serves multiple vital purposes and is an important complement to almost every program pursued in different sectors.

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS AND A WAY FORWARD

8.0. IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan

  1. There is need the timely invitation of journalists need timely invitations to cover the HLRF.
  2. Journalists must be able to easily obtain visas to Ethiopia since they are only focusing on covering HLRF.
  3. Journalists must be able to easily and quickly access the venue of HLRF.
  4. Journalist needs a conducive environment around the HLRF venue for reporting back the progress made to the South Sudanese.
  5. There is a need for IGAD to provide timely information on HLRF process for public consumption at home.
  • JMEC and Donors
  1. Journalists need access to cover HLRF timely and effectively.
  2. Journalists need support to have timely access to the HLRF venue for effective and balanced coverage of this story.
  • South Sudanese delegates for HLRF (Parties, faith-based, Youth, eminent personalities, Women and Civil society)
  1. There is need to cooperate with the journalists to provide accurate information on the HLRF deliberation without complicating information.
  2. There is need to encourage the citizens with concrete information on concrete progress made.
  3. There is need to avoid politicizing information for the public interest.
  • Media
  1. There is need to assign professional and experienced journalists in peace mediation reporting/coverage.
  2. There is need to report on the search for peace beyond HLRF events outcomes by conducting interviews with various delegates of the warring parties, Mediator-IGAD and stakeholders.
  3. There is need to dedicate time in radio and newspaper columns for HLRF period.

CONCLUSIONS

Media plays a vital role in the growth and development of human society. The role of media in conflict resolution, conflict transformation, and conflict management is usually described by experts as “Mediator of Conflict.” Quoting Melissa Baumann and Hannes Siebert on their publication with title of “The Media as Mediator,” NIDR Forum, (Winter 1993), pp. 28-32, “The media unavoidably, necessarily mediates conflicts,” and, “The authors suggest that by drawing on the experience of mediators, journalists could better learn ‘how to win trust, build credibility, and challenge secrecy and authority at the same time.’”[p. 32]. It is high time to conclude that media is an essential actor in peace mediation. https://www.beyondintractability.org/artsum/baumann-themedia.

South Sudan deserves to be allowed to cover the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) freely, without restriction or frustration.

It is proven that supporting media coverage of the 2nd Phase of the HLRF helped win public trust and confidence on the outcomes of the 2nd phase HLRF. Media coverage of the 2nd HLRF created a remarkable impact on peace mediation. Key impacts include: The public is engaged on the 2nd HLRF; Public ownership of 2nd HLRF is secured; Fake News around 2nd HLRF was reduced; Pressures created on the parties to be open and sincere on HLRF and offline media coverage reduced the scale of hate speech on both online and offline media.

The language of the outcome of the 2nd phase imposed on us by the warring parties is made irrelevant by factual media coverage because the citizens/public were kept informed on every single action/decision reached during the 2nd phase of HLRF.  Therefore, timely facilitation of national media outlets for coverage of the HLRF next phase should be taken seriously by all stakeholders including IGAD, Donors, and civil society.

South Sudanese people tend to trust information that comes from national media outlets. They consider it a public-interest debate forum because foreign media information is feared. This is because the government sometimes treats foreign media as enemies of the state. Finally, supporting and encouraging national media coverage of the HLRF is an important symbol of inclusivity and a strongly participatory approach to realizing peace in South Sudan.

“The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) is a non-profit, civil society, South Sudanese organization, registered by the Ministry of Justice on 17th November 2010. The organization was initially formed in Khartoum in 1999 and consisted of mostly University students, but its scope broadened after it was established in Juba, Southern Sudan as a separate entity. Presently, CEPO is engaged in the areas of Peace and conflict mitigation, human rights, rule of law, livelihood, governance and democratic transformation. MR. EDMUND YAKANI BERIZILIOUS is the Executive Director of CEPO.”

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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