The trouble with peace

Peace can be a blasted annoyance sometimes.

Whilst I am being deluged by all sorts of interesting justice-related stories from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, it is becoming harder and harder to commission hard-hitting copy from Uganda.

This is, quite frankly, because things really are looking up in the country. The dreadful Lord’s Resistence Army (LRA) have now been chased out of Uganda, hopefully for good. War-affected society is starting to heal its wounds. Uganda is even talking about being in a stable enough position to start trying its war criminals, rather than handing them over to the International Criminal Court – an ICC bill, now wending its way through the Uganda Parliament, is set to make that an even more likely possibility.

In short, the injustice, war and misery upon which our organisation thrives is fast disappearing. It’s great for the local communities but less good for those that want to write interesting stories.

But this, for me, is always the dilema with NGOs. If an NGO is truly doing its job well, it should be working towards its own destruction. An NGO has succeeded when there is no more use for the role that it was performing.

At a conference the other day, I met someone from the UN Observer, who was talking about the need for the UN to change its way of working. I couldn’t agree more.

One thing that we started discussing was how ridiculous it is that the UN’s Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) still has a staggering 2,500 personnel in Khartoum alone.

Again, if UNMIS is doing a decent job in Sudan – and I have strong doubts that it is – then it should really be working towards a time when it is no longer needed in the country.

Which is part of the problem, since there are significant benefits to being based in Khartoum as opposed to, say, Afghanistan. Namely that you get good money without the risk of being blown to pieces. Khartoum is classified as a high-risk, non-family destination. (Yeah, right!) Which means you get lots of holiday and lots of money.

So, the problem has always been, in my eyes, that people in the UN have things very comfortably and so aren’t all that keen for things to end.

But the UN Observer chap had a good point. What if, instead of concentrating the 2,500 personnel in Khartoum, they were liberally scattered in the countries surrounding Sudan. I’m sure Somalia could do with a good handful.

This is an excellent idea – and one that the UN should listen to. It’s all about adaptation.

Just like we, as an organisation that covers war and suffering, should perhaps adapt to widen our remit in certain countries.

Then the purpose of an NGO moves beyond simply working towards its own destruction. It becomes one of working towards its evolution.


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One Response to “The trouble with peace”

  1. Laura Says:

    Hey Blake, Nice post! They should be employing more national staff, less international…. but it’s more complicated than that… they have too many consultants and not enough permanent staff…. and this makes it expensive.

    At some point, I am going to do more interviews with the UN staff in Sudan and then I’ll you know what I find…

    but anyhow, I like your ICC posts. keep it up!

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