How can the mediation skills of traditional leaders in Somalia be enhanced? How can their work in the ongoing search for peace in Somalia be supported?
With this in mind the Berghof Foundation’s Somalia Team conducted a 4-day ‘Mediation Support Workshop’ with traditional Somali elders in February 2018 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The workshop brought together 15 of the most influential traditional and religious leaders from Hirshabelle State, to share experiences of reconciliation, expand capacities in mediation and build a network of insider mediators.
Traditional elders are the central actors within the traditional Somali conflict resolution system (Xeer), which is still the main framework for resolving conflicts in Somalia. The workshop worked to enhance the capacity of the traditional elders in collaborative dispute resolution and reconciliation, by building on the deep local knowledge of the participants, reflecting on this knowledge and adding practical skills to it. The workshop also provided a platform where the traditional elders from the former regions of Middle Shabelle and Hiiraan could connect with each other and exchange ideas on how to best form a network of elders. At the conclusion of the workshop, the participants choose representatives from both regions to coordinate the further exchange and communication on a regular basis. They also proposed to meet on a regular basis.
The workshop was the first in a series of three Mediation Support Workshops focusing on various influential stakeholder groups for reconciliation in Hirshabelle State. Building on the needs identified in the first phase of the project, the current second phase aims to prepare and connect the relevant mediators through joint learning and exchange, ahead of the traditional dialogue assemblies (Shirarka) to be facilitated by this insider mediator network in the subsequent third phase.