When the fighting stops in a civil war, what steps need to be taken to ensure it does not start again?
UN troops left Sierra Leone last week after five years of successfully restoring order, but peacekeepers are only one part of a peace process.
Other post-conflict steps have to be taken; the political process has to recover, peoples attitudes have to change, justice has to be maintained, trust restored and infrastructure rebuilt.
Has your country stopped an internal conflict, and if so what has made the difference between success and failure? What are the essential ingredients for a lasting peace? And do you as an individual have a role to play in the process?
This debate is now closed. Please read a selection of your comments below.
Get rid of the gun peddlers and there will be lasting peace in Africa. As long as the all-powerful gun manufacturers keep on producing, they will need conflicts to promote sales and profits. They call it capitalism.
Fredua Dankwa, Jr, Lexington, KY, USA
I am from Sierra Leone and I think that the people need to love each other and do not need to keep everything to themselves. Thanks to the UN for all their help in S.Leone.
Hassan, Co/Springs, USA
Every single war leader from my country, Somalia, wants to get money and name by controlling the country. I believe that peace will last when war leaders stop being selfish and think of how much they hurt others. Also, people who are loyal to war leaders should consider the value of life.
Shakuur, Minnesota, USA
The belief that peace begins as soon as the fighting stops is flawed. In the period following the signing of an agreement investments must me made to consolidate. Myriad factors can contribute to lasting peace some of which include international/ regional support and oversight, domestic political will, investment in infrastructure development, social services, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants, justice and reconciliation etc. We must move from a culture of stopping wars to one of building lasting peace.
Eddie Mandhry, New York, New York
Create one African identity, one passport and one nation with education.
Wendu Regassa Awash, Ethiopia/USA
Peace depends on goodwill. My country was involved in a civil war from 1982-7. Unfortunately, the wounds of war are still there and there is simmering hatred between the people of the affected provinces and the rest of the country. Without the creating of a new confidence and trust and goodwill, peace can never be guaranteed. Those in power have this massive responsibility to be humble enough to say to the nation: 'I made mistakes, and I have learnt from those mistakes that we should never repeat them again in our country.'
Chenjerai Hove, Stavanger, Norway
We Africans we don't know how to create peace in the country, because we don't want to forgive each other.
Ojok Phillip, Northern Uganda
Peace is only possible if people sit and settle their differences.
Ezekiel Ngitoria, Arusha, Tanzania
To sustain the peace:
The recommendations of the truth and reconciliation commission MUST be implemented fully.
The restructuring of the security forces must be done in a more transparent way, maintaining a regional balance and those who are willing should go on voluntary retirement with benefits.
Local councils must be empowered to undertake more developments projects.
A free and fair 2007 general election must be done.
The justice system must be reformed, separating the office of Atorney-General and Ministry of Justice.
Thaimu Bundu Conteh, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Economic stability and prosperity are prerequisites for any lasting peace initiative. Once young men have no incentive for going out to kill people, then maybe there can be a lasting peace.
Sagheer Tanoli, Karachi & Pakistan
A desire to be at peace with yourself, peace with your neighbour, peace with your brother and sister - that desire, followed by an action that will promote peace, is the first step in making peace last.
Esther Kabugi, Kenya
I read a comment that said forgiveness is a prerequisite for stability. I disagree. First there should be an apology from those that committed the crimes, then forgiveness, not the cart before the horse.
Chris, Maryland, USA
As long as people are poor they will be prepared to go to war.
I think the best way to ensure lasting peace is through education. Let children be taught the importance of non-violence, let adults use civilised means of conflict resolution. The children will learn from their parents. Let models of peace and non-violence like Ghandi and Martin Luther King be proposed for emulation to young people.
Mark Anthony, Nairobi, Kenya
For lasting peace, these basic things should be put in place:
War against corruption
Denola Adekoya, Lagos, Nigeria
Bravo to the peacekeepers, although the process was one of the most difficult encounters
for Sierra Leoneans. We all hope never to go through that kind of situation again. Our leaders should be democratic and diplomatic in their line of duty to prevent any other
form of crisis.
Amadu Amara, Maryland, USA
Peace can only last when governments stop from interfering in the judiciary process. Also those in authority should stop training militants to kill anyone who is not in good terms with the government.
Pha Kebbeh, Busumbala, The Gambia
To secure peace in our continent, all depressed nations should be free. The question of depressed peoples has to get an answer.
Lalisa Benti, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
I as an individual have a very important role to play in the process. Injustice starts in families, then in institutions such as schools and working places, and then we get corrupt and immoral leaders. At this basic level every citizen is responsible.
Muhoza Chiza, Mwanza, Tanzania
Economic stability and prosperity are prerequisites for any lasting peace initiative. Once young men have no incentive for going out to kill people then maybe there can be a lasting peace.
Tendai Huchu, Zimbabwe
For the last 19 years my country Uganda has endured a bloody war in the North of the country. Partly because of the failure of the government to fully commit itself to ending this war. The difference between success and failure in war torn Africa is not empty rhetoric but functional political will on the part of the government.
Ssenkaaba Stephen, Kampala, Uganda
Until the time when arms and manufacturers stop manufacturing guns peace will be elusive anywhere in the world. Most wars are triggered by external parties whose aims and objectives are to find markets to exploit.
WM Arimi, Atlanta, US
The only way to ensure a lasting peace is through justice.
Peter Kalu-Obuba, Canada
As a former rebel fighter, once a truce is made it should be final and binding and who ever breaks it should have to abide by international law.
Mesfin, Eritrean in US
The most important ingredient for a long lasting peace after a conflict is forgiveness. You can forgive and not forget.
Placide Matsiaba, Gabon
Through reconciliation...that's the only way lasting peace can be in Africa
Stephen Togba, Liberian in US
The first step is to integrate the fighting groups into the new national army. This is what Uganda has done for the last 20 years. The demobilised fighters should be trained in various skills and should be assisted in integrating back into civilian life.
One way we can achieve peace is through the formation of United States of Africa where all our resources will be put together for our common good.
Sheik Salim Feika, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Let peace building and conflict resolution strategies be incorporated in our school curricula, since young people are the target of warlords for recruitment during conflicts. This will go a long way to changing the hearts and minds of many who believe in confrontation and violence to solve problems.
Besenty Gomez, The Gambia
Perhaps, African schools should redesign a way of producing more humane leaders as most of wars are stared and directed by those who had the opportunity to know how to read and write!
Mohamed, UK, London
The only way we can sustain the hard-won peace in Sierra Leone is by creating a very level playing field in the 2007 elections and ensuring that the people have the final say at the end of the day.
Osmond Hanciles, Freetown, Sierra Leone
Most people might think peace is the absence of war and violence. However, for total peace, we need peace of hearts and minds.
Yengi Desmond Tutu Soti, Sudanese refugee in Uganda
In order to build peace in the Great Lakes region where millions of lives have been lost, neighbouring states should stop getting involved and let the locals tackle their own problems.
To ensure that there is no repeat of a civil war, the newly installed government must disarm rebel factions so they no longer even think of posing a threat. Once that has been dealt with, court proceedings against perpetrators of crimes against humanity must take place.
There must be less expenditure on the military, and more focus on the police as law enforcers.
After the Nigerian civil war, the leadership announced that there was "no victor and no vanquished". There was also a policy popularly called the 3R's - rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation. As good as the policies were, the spirit of implementation of same was not dynamic, thus to date we still have conflicts arising and all regions establishing ethnic militia groups. South Africans avoided these problems because they pursued the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report with good faith and without victimisation.
Olaoluwa Nelson, Lagos, Nigeria
A deterrent force from different countries must be pooled together to train and be equipped for unforeseen conflicts.
Chris Yankah, Kumasi, Ghana
The war in Sudan is very complex, however the Sudanese in general believe that deployment of outside forces to Sudan is the best idea for maintaining peace in the Sudan at large. We, the Sudanese urgently need peace.
Peter Tuach, Minnesota, US
Most conflicts occur as a result of the exclusion of a particular group, or part of the country, from reaping the fruits of national growth and development. The essential ingredients for successful peace building are reconciliation and justice.
Chi Primus, Buea, Cameroon
One might be in a hurry to say keeping peace lies solely with the government. This is not feasible in Africa where you have most of the time a dictatorial kind of government. I believe the upkeep of peace should be sustained by the media who can educate the society and also create alertness in situations that can bridge peace.
Adewale Ajani, Nigerian in The Netherlands
How can we make peace last? Interesting question, very simple answer: Cure the cancer. Africa has a major disease call tribalism. Why is that when someone gets in power, the first thing they think about is how to better their own tribe instead of the overall betterment of their country.
Didier, Florida, US
We can only have peace when all parties respect each other and there is a greater level of tolerance.
Kwaku Sakyi-Danso, Accra, Ghana
For peace in Sierra Leone to be sustained, the government in particular and the international community in general should ensure that those thorny issues that culminated into war be addressed. These include rampant corruption, nepotism, coercion of civil society, neglect of youths, rural isolation, and suppression of the multiparty system.
Sigismond Wilson, Sierra Leonean in US
In order for peace to last, the underlying causes of the initial conflict need to be addressed. As long as systemic corruption continues to exist, any cessation of conflict is only temporary. In order for there to be lasting peace, I suggest the following key ingredients;
1 Eliminate corruption;
2 Educate the people so they could try to bring themselves out of poverty;
3 Provide some basic necessities such as water and electricity for the people;
4 Establish actual independent branches of government to check on each other; and
5 Uphold the rule of law.
Villo, Sierra Leonean in US
The only way to have a truly lasting peace is for noble ingredients like equity, fairness, justice, honesty and truth to be engaged in conflict resolution. Any conflict resolution effort devoid of these time tested factors will merely be a peace of the grave yard. The bedrock guideline for true peace is that justice must not only be done but must be manifestly seen to be done.
Anthony Okosun, Baltimore, US
For a lasting peace, we need to continuously solve the basic problems before they become complicated.
Kaseem Farayola, Nigerian in Canada
In order for the peace accord in Sierra Leone to remain in effect, all the root causes of the previous problems should be avoided. None of the parties should relapse. Most conflicts in Africa have always been resolved by external bodies either within Africa or outside. Regardless of who brokered the peace, the most important thing is that the parties should abide by the terms of the peace deal.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, US
There will definitely be peace where there is justice and equal rights. This will only be achieved by punishing those that started the strife, and establishing a political process that will engender equitable distribution of resources, and protection of everyone's right in the new scheme of things.
Kingsley Ezenekwe, Lagos, Nigeria