I’ve been particularly critical of CEWARN over the past few years but as a colleague of mine recently noted—and rightly so—the last time I directly worked on CEWARN was towards the end of 2005. In other words, it’s been a good 4 years. In addition, my full time work at CEWARN was limited to about 16 months of work, with about a third of the time spent on-site.
So I’d like to invite my CEWARN colleagues to elaborate on some updates they kindly shared with me via email last Friday. For example, CEWARN has established local peace committees (in addition to national early warning units) which have taken the lead in initiating early warning and response activities. It would be great if CEWARN could describe in detail the actions taken by these committees over the years so that other conflict early warning initiatives in Sri Lanka and Colombia can learn from CEWARN. For example, just how successful have these initiatives been? And what failures have they encountered?
One criticism I have had of CEWARN is the limited number of “success stories” attributed to the initiative which has been operational for 6 years now. However, according to my colleagues at CEWARN, the cases I cite are only a few amongst many others and only highlight responses to Alerts issued by different actors including Field Monitors, local peace committees, and other stakeholders in the Mechanism. In other words, CEWARN has not shared information on other types of responses including cross-border communal peace dialogues, livestock recoveries, etc.
This is really good to know, and I would really encourage CEWARN to share the full extent of these success stories since it is really important to demonstrate the impact of the mechanism. To be sure, if CEWARN has not already done this, I would recommend that they compile a full detailed list of all success stories related to CEWARN’s work. Surely, this would be a prized document vis-a-vis donor relations and beyond. In other words, such a document should figure very prominently on the CEWARN website. I for one would be ready to dedicate an entire blog post series on CEWARN to highlight the initiative’s many important successes over the past 4 years.
My colleagues at CEWARN have also brought to my attention the development of an ICT for Peace Project and a Rapid Response Fund Facility for local, national and cross-border response. These new initiatives are very timely and worthwhile. It would be great if CEWARN could upload more information on these initiatives to their website. For example, how many times has the fund facility been used and what has the impact been? And what failures has the team encountered?
In sum, I’m really looking forward to getting myself more up to speed on the incredible progress that my colleagues at CEWARN have made since I left in 2005. Indeed, they very kindly pledged to help me learn more about the mechanism’s district and local peace committees by offering to provide me with the names and contacts of their early response units and country coordinators.
I eagerly await this information from CEWARN so I can revise and correct my criticisms of this conflict early warning system. As soon as CEWARN follows through with their pledge and I have completed my updated research on CEWARN, I will be sure to write a full blog post on everything I have learned. Of course, if I don’t hear back from the team, then I’m not sure how I can correct my criticisms and share their success stories and lessons learned. In any case, the record will show that I genuinely tried.