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Communiquѐ: Workshop on Accountability in Context of Protracted Conflict

32 out of the 45+ countries in the ActionAid Federation have situations of violent conflict.  With the aim of identifying and expanding ActionAid’s knowledge and experience of accountability practices in situations of prolonged insurgency, ongoing war or foreign military occupation, 19 ActionAiders representing AAI programmes in Afghanistan, Arab Regional Initiative, Burundi, Denmark, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestine, Sweden and IHART gathered in Amman, Jordan from April 19-22, 2016. This workshop was hosted by ActionAid Palestine with the support from International Platforms SO2 (Just and Democratic Governance) and SO4 (Resilience and Emergency).  

As a result of this experience-sharing exercise, three (3) critical reasons emerged as to why the Federation should consider “Working on Conflict” as a vital component in the new international Strategy.  

Violent conflicts are increasing around the world, exacerbate inequality, and affect communities particularly the women, youth and children living in poverty and exclusion. 

There are more people made refugees or internally displaced by conflict now than at any time since WWII. Critical reflections among participants suggest that, regardless of the type of conflict (i.e. ethnic-based, political, ideological, etc.), the most affected by these violent conflicts are women and girls living in poverty and exclusion. However, it is also clear that these women and girls, when given a leadership opportunity, are effective in their roles in protection, rehabilitation, peacebuilding, and in bringing about transformative change. ActionAid has a moral responsibility and must take a political stance to facilitate the centrality of women living in poverty and exclusion, along with youth, in addressing the causes and consequences of violent conflicts.

 

Accountability work in the context of conflict is essential to address power imbalances and shift the power to women and girls living in poverty and exclusion; most accountability processes, methodologies and tools that already exist in ActionAid can be used in conflict contexts. 

Reaffirming ActionAid’s core HRBA principle of advancing women’s rights, our analysis from sharing different experiences reveals that working on conflict is an opportunity to shift power to women and girls living in poverty and exclusion by enabling women-led responses.

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In LRP Noshki in Baluchistan, Pakistan, women and girls face multiple conflicts caused by Taliban insurgency, ethnic-clashes and ideological conflicts. AA Pakistan effectively used a number of accountability processes and tools (e.g. social audit, open information boards, formation of village level complaint & redressal committees) and succeeded in pushing local authorities to open primary schools for girls in the LRP area and for a water supply scheme to be installed in more than 13 villages. 
With the understanding that ‘accountability’ means the responsible use of power, and that ‘power’ being the ability to influence other’s actions, it is clear that doing accountability in conflict as a political project is essential to advance ActionAid’s transformative agenda to happen.  
 
‘Working on conflict’ is an opportunity for AAI to sharpen our political identity as an organisation which takes sides with the people living in poverty and exclusion even during violent conflict. 
ActionAid’s theory of change and human rights based approach to development is inherently political as it challenges and creates a struggle to shift the power to the powerless from the powerful in addressing rights violations and indignity.  ‘Working on conflict’ further strengthens this political identity and will further build on the work we have on resilience, education, land, self-determination, and women’s rights. Moreover, as there are global implications to conflicts, these can only be addressed by linking our work from local to national and global levels. There is a growing sense that if we work on conflict systematically, we seize the possibility to influence in addressing the structural causes of conflict. 
 
The participants committed to sharpening the accountability work in the context of conflict, as well as our work on conflict, and propose the following Strategic Objective for inclusion in the current Strategy Development Process of the Federation: 
 
"We will facilitate women living in poverty and exclusion to lead transformative actions in solidarity with local, national and international actors, in holding state and non-state actors to account and in addressing the impacts and structural causes of conflict that violate human rights, and exacerbate people's poverty and inequality." 
 
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