UN Development Programme (UNDP) in South Sudan has been supporting the Government of South Sudan to implement provisions of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS). The Agreement was a political mechanism aimed at ushering a peaceful political transition in South Sudan. Key to the provisions of the Agreement is Article V of the R-ARCSS which provides for the establishment of transitional justice mechanisms namely the Commission on Truth Reconciliation and Healing (CTRH); the Compensation and Reparations Authority (CRA) and the Hybrid Court for South Sudan (HCS).
Through the UNDP Transitional Justice project funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund, UNDP South Sudan has been collaborating with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the Greater Bahr El Ghazal; Greater Equatoria and Greater Upper Nile areas to ensure that the voices of South Sudanese are included and heard in all processes. The CSOs have been using their communication channels to provide information about the transitional justice mechanisms to communities of victims and survivors of conflict. These include social media channels, radio and other public engagement platforms. The CSOs have also been providing victims and survivors of conflict with psycho social support through the Victims Support Groups.
While implementing the project, the team at UNDP South Sudan noted communication capacity gaps among the partner CSOs. The team reached out to the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) team in South Sudan and at the Regional Office for East and Southern Africa to explore the options of engaging online volunteers to fill the gaps. This led to the selection of three online volunteers - Christian Nyirora (Rwanda), Jana Sleem (Lebanon), and Sandra Omari (Kenya).
The three online volunteers supported the UNDP Transitional Justice project for 12 weeks. Working closely with the local CSOs such as Invisible Women Network, Women and Children Network, and the South Sudan Law Society, their support focused on key media and advocacy areas. These included revamping social media presence for the project, content development, photography, videography, and training for staff in the partner CSOs.
The work of online volunteers positively transformed communications for the CSO partners, notably in social media. As part of activities to mark International Volunteer Day in 2023, UNDP South Sudan was proud to recognize the three online volunteers.
The online volunteering resources proved to be an innovative and sustainable win–win platform for all parties involved. For the online volunteers, it provided an opportunity to serve the UN remotely and gain useful work experience. For UNDP, the collaboration filled crucial capacity gaps.
While concluding their online volunteering assignments, the three online volunteers shared their perspectives and reflections.
Christian Nyirora from Rwanda noted that “I really enjoyed my online volunteering assignment. How I worked closely with UNDP and the Invisible Women organization to achieve the goals of their Transitional Justice project was an experience I will cherish for life.”
“UNDP South Sudan was quite supportive during my assignment. Despite facing challenges due to the war going on in Gaza which extended into Lebanon, I was still able to deliver remotely in support of the people of South Sudan,” Jana Sleem from Lebanon said.
“My experience from my work with the South Sudan Law Society were important in helping me deliver in my assignment. I was able to apply a lot of my skills in supporting the daily media work of the CSOs supporting the transitional justice project,” Sandra Omari from Kenya said.