Ms. Gloria Gune Lomodong, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Sudan to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva.
In January 2005, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA, 2005 brought an end to twenty one years of civil war. Among other values and principles of justice and equality, the peace agreement offered hope and was based on models for solving problems (power-sharing, wealth and security arrangements), preserving peace and making unity of the Sudan attractive. Depending on the implementation of the peace agreement, the people of southern Sudan had a six-year interim period of autonomy to be followed by a referendum on unity or secession from the Sudan. In January 2011, in an internationally monitored referendum, 98.83% of southerners voted for secession of South Sudan. That same year on 9th July, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was born and became an independent country, and joined the United Nations on 14th July, 2011, as the 193rd member state.
August, 2012- The Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Sudan was a few months old in Geneva, Switzerland. I was only two weeks at the second largest United Nations center after the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This was my first deployment and for me to work in a multilateral duty station. Within a week, on September 10, 2012, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC)-21st session was to begin. One of my main responsibilities was to develop, manage and strengthen our Human Rights desk.
As a post-conflict and young country, South Sudan is faced with immense challenges of nation building. Mindful of the transition at the country and on my individual level, the tasks ahead of me were enormous and overwhelming. Perhaps, many of you can emphasize and identify with the feelings and expectations associated with the entire new experience. At a crucial and right time, from September 3-4, 2012, I attended the 4th Human Rights Orientation Programme for Diplomats, organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
The essential training on human rights set an important foundation and facilitated my transition into the nature of work in a multilateral setting. I was introduced to critical new information, knowledge and skills needed to comprehend the processes, structures and work of the OHCHR, the HRC and its mechanisms, the United Nations Human Rights Protection Systems, the roles of civil society and non-governmental organizations, as well as the Human Rights Treaty Bodies. The training also provided me with the opportunity to network with diplomats from different countries.
At the commencement of the Human Rights Council-21 session, I was in a much better position to apply the knowledge and skills I had received from the training. In particular, I was assisting to prepare the final adoption of the resolution on “Technical assistance and capacity-building for South Sudan in the field of human rights.” This process was also successful because of support from our Mission, the African Group and the international community.
One year later, from September 30 - 1 October, 2013, I participated at the Workshop on Negotiation Skills, organized by UNITAR in partnership with the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva.
Prior to the independence of South Sudan, the Government of Sudan and the SPLM/A held several peace talks to address our various challenges. Today, with the continued assistance of the international community, the two countries continue to negotiate on the outstanding issues of the CPA, 2005. For instance, the demarcation of our borders, oil and security related concerns, as well as the implementation of the Abyei Protocol.
As South Sudan integrates into the global community, we are negotiating not only on national concerns, but also on regional and international issues. For example, trade and investment, border management, struggles of war and peace, resources and the environment, humanitarian and human rights related concerns. As South Sudan negotiates, it is important for our proposals to be endorsed for the accomplishment of our mandates. Hence, I need to be updated and strengthen my understanding on the interplay of various factors, strategies and techniques, such as the Harvard model of negotiation, and how power, perceptions, cultural style of communication and human attributes influence negotiations. The workshop made it possible for me to develop, improve and refresh my understanding on the complex processes and situations that shape the outcome of negotiations, and how to better prepare for them.
The contribution of women is significant in society and more women need to be part of negotiation processes, and know how to negotiate better. Over the years, many national Constitutions have allocated women quota representation in public life. Despite undergoing a review process, the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011, has granted women 25% of representation in public life and in the decision-making positions at the executive and legislative branch of government. This is a significant progress in recognition of the role of women in society. Yet, in Africa and around the world, many women encounter compromising and difficult situations in the workplace.
Some of the challenges and obstacles faced by women around the world include: the quota system is considered as symbolic and therefore, their ability and strong work ethics may not be recognized, age and work experience may or may not earn women the acknowledgment and respect they deserve on what they are able to contribute, as well as concerns of harassment, equal pay for equal work and how more women may break the glass ceiling. These concerns and stereotypes prevent men, but more women from effectively contributing and realizing their full potential in life-they hinder progress on the advancement of established policies on gender equality at the national, regional and international level.
As agents of change and where applicable, women need to have more courage and confidence to voice their concerns, be prepared to offer and negotiate on proposals. With this background, I was inspired to attend the workshop because it also placed emphasis on providing participants with the skills and techniques of negotiations applicable for situations in the workplace.
In addition, sensitization and raising awareness of challenges in the workplace or society at large is not enough. A combination of the right strategies and techniques, knowing your interests and working together to come up with the best solution to address differences, having a more diverse delegation and teams in decision-making processes are important to guide the outcome of negotiations. Through the diverse participants and exchange of viewpoints, the practical exercises and simulations further enhanced my ability to identify, analyze, improve relations, and better manage complex and difficult situations of negotiations. Furthermore, I am in a better and strengthened position to initiate, offer and negotiate proposals, and to contribute to influencing policy directions in the workplace and society at large, as well as to contribute to better service delivery.
Every day is an opportunity for me to continue to strengthen my knowledge and skills. The trainings I have attended on human rights and negotiation skills are of very high importance and relevance to my work. They have greatly contributed to South Sudan’s development goals, institutional strengthening and reform agenda, and overall post-conflict nation building efforts. Through steadfast commitment, I hope to continue to apply, impart and integrate the knowledge and skills I have acquired from the trainings in all aspects of my profession.
Last but not least, as we, the international community work to address our various global concerns, the provision of capacity building programmes are essential for the attainment of our national, regional and international objectives. In the near future, I hope South Sudan will continue to benefit from more of the trainings offered by UNITAR, not only in Geneva, but also at our country level.
Happy 50th Anniversary UNITAR- your capacity building programmes are making a great difference and contributing to the strengthening of communities and institutions around the world.