CEWARN - IGAD’s Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism - was established in 2002 on the basis of a protocol signed by IGAD Member States.
IGAD Member States in establishing CEWARN made a major strategic decision to utilize early warning and early response to prevent violent conflict so as to serve the aspirations of their people for shared prosperity and a sustained just peace.
CEWARN’s mandate is to receive and share information concerning potentially violent conflicts as well as their outbreak and escalation in the IGAD region; undertake and share analyses of that information; develop case scenarios and formulate options for response; share and communicate information analyses and response options; carry out studies on specific types and areas of conflict in the IGAD region.
The mechanism aspires to become “A network of excellence that works to advance an IGAD region in which reducing the risks of violent conflict through structured and consistent early warning and early response is central to local, national and regional governance in its priority areas of intervention”.
At the heart of the functionality of the CEWARN Mechanism is data collection, analysis and the timely dissemination of information and knowledge to the right people and institutions.
The network of actors driven by a secretariat based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was from the beginning forged to join government and civil society, at a time when security had mostly been the exclusive preserve of states. In addition, its fractal structure, joining regional, national and local dimensions in data collection, analysis and decision making has made it a significant milestone in the regional and continental efforts to build peace and security.
The men and women who were recruited to start up CEWARN were given an operational challenge of piloting the CEWARN Mechanism through providing conflict early warning analysis and response options on cross-border pastoral conflicts among pastoral groups and communities. This was intended to be a starting point for eventual expansion to other kinds of violent conflict types and areas throughout the region.
Apart from its recognition as a continental pioneer in setting up a sophisticated early warning system that constitutes a whole spectrum of government and non-government institutions, CEWARN’s decade-long operations with a focus on pastoral and related conflicts further established it as a continental benchmark for data-based early warning and response systems.
A number of its operational methods and tools including the CEWARN Reporter- a custom-made software tool that enables CEWARN track, categorize and analyze large volumes of conflict early warning data from IGAD’s seven member states- have been adopted by the African Union Continental Early Warning System and those of other African Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
What We Have Done Well . ..
• CEWARN has gained valuable experience and credibility with officials and peace workers in its areas of operation for supporting local institutions and expanding their capabilities for conflict prevention;
• CEWARN’s operations have been credited with a significant reduction of violent conflict particularly along Kenya-Uganda as well as Ethiopia-Kenya-Somalia borders;
• CEWARN has built a precious body of data and knowledge on violent conflicts along IGAD Member State borders and
• CEWARN has built the ability to implement on the ground development projects that entrench peace by reducing the incentives for violence conflict.
CEWARN is part of the African Peace and Security Architecture through its working legal linkage with the African Union’s continental early warning system. The principles of vertical coordination, subsidiary and coherence among others enshrined in the continental architecture inform the relationship between CEWARN and its regional and continental counterparts.
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