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 Joseph Madak Wuol (left) and Danny Glenwright at UofMosaic Event on South Sudan on February 24th at York University

On February 24, 2015, UofMosaic students, in partnership with York University’s Centre for Human Rights and Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), hosted a public discussion entitled “South Sudan Three Years On: Current Challenges and Opportunities”. The event was held at York University and featured presentations by Danny Glenwright, Executive Director of JHR and Joseph Madak Wuol, Chair of the South Sudanese Community Peace Building Taskforce. The session was part of the “UofMosaic Talks Peace: In the Aftermath of War” series, and was moderated by Shifa Tauqir, a member of the Mosaic Institute’s Student Advisory Committee (SAC).

Danny began his presentation by sharing some his past experiences working in the area of media and human rights in Namibia and Sierra Leone. He then spoke of how work in these two countries relates to JHR’s current efforts to increase the capacity of South Sudanese media to report from a human rights perspective, which include specialized training and capacity development workshops. Danny highlighted his organization’s ongoing work to reach people with human rights content on their mobile phones via SMS, as well as the commitment of South Sudanese journalists to make human rights issues more visible in their country. Importantly, Danny’s presentation also delved into some the challenges JHR is facing in South Sudan, such as the precarious job conditions of many journalists, safety concerns in areas of the country affected by violence, and lack of government support to create a robust and pluralistic media sector.

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Participants at UofMosaic Event on South Sudan at York University on February 24th, 2015

Joseph Madak Wuol’s talk centered on current issues taking place in South Sudan and on the ways in which members of the South Sudanese diaspora in Canada can work together to promote peace in their country of heritage. Drawing on his experience working in senior roles with South Sudan’s government and with UN agencies in the country, Joseph emphasized the role that a united diaspora can play in raising awareness about the ongoing violence and in influencing the Government of Canada’s position towards South Sudan.

Joseph also shed light on some of the current development challenges faced by his native country, some of which include low literacy rates, sexual violence, and poor infrastructure. However, he was unequivocal in his position that these development needs cannot be addressed until the country finds a way to put an end to the violence that has resulted in approximately 40,000 people being killed and that has displaced thousands more. “There can be no development without peace”, he said.

The event was attended by both York University students and members of the South Sudanese diaspora in the Greater Toronto Area. “South Sudan Three Years On” was an important opportunity for those with an interest in South Sudan, be it academic or personal, to engage in community-building dialogue and idea exchange.

“South Sudan Three Years On: Current Challenges and Opportunities” was presented as part of the Mosaic Institute’s UofMosaic program. The UofMosaic is the Mosaic Institute’s campus-based peace building program for university students. The program delivers programming at Ryerson University, York University, the University of Toronto, Concordia University, McGill University, and Simon Fraser University. UofMosaic is made possible by the generous financial support of BMO Financial Group. For more information, please e-mail info@mosaicinstitute.ca

Young Peace Perspectives is a platform curated by the Mosaic Institute to highlight the experiences of young people in Canada who are working for peace, both in their communities and abroad.