Twenty-three conflicts were recorded in the three northern regions of the country between 1980 and 2002. Many community-based and inter-ethnic conflicts were intractable, because of a failing justice system and many court cases were not resolved. When violence erupted, official Commissions of Inquiry were established. However their recommendations were not implemented leading to unresolved conflicts.
After the slaying of the King of Dagbon and many of his elders in 2002, the regional government established the Northern Region Peace Advocacy Council (NRPAC) as a mediation and conflict resolution mechanism to deal with the issues of trust among the factions, as restoring confidence and relationships was crucial.
With the success of the NRPAC, the government decided to explore the possibility of extending the peace council concept to the rest of the country. A range of consultations were organised with many different stakeholders at local, regional and national level. The outcome of these consultations was the development of the ‘National Architecture for Peace', which consists of representatives of relevant stakeholders as well as individual Ghanaians who enjoy high levels of trust and respect in society. Councils are served by a body of professional Peace Promotion Officers connected to the 10 Regional Peace Advisory Councils.
The National Architecture for Peace in Ghana was issued by the Ministry of Interior in May 2006. The National Peace Council (NPC) played a major role in ensuring peaceful elections in 2008 and a smooth transfer of power through discreet meetings with stakeholders that defused considerable tension.
In November 2010, the National Peace Council Bill was presented to Parliament and in March 2011, a National Peace Council Bill was unanimously adopted by Parliament, which will enhance the Peace structure of Ghana.
The functions of the NPC are to:
- harmonise and coordinate conflict prevention, management, resolution and build sustainable peace through networking and coordination;
- strengthen capacities in relation to its objectives;
- facilitate the amicable resolution of conflicts through mediation and other connected processes;
- monitor, report and offer indigenous perspectives and solutions to conflicts in the country; and
- promote understanding about the values of reconciliation, tolerance, confidence building, mediation and dialogue as responses to conflict.
The NPC is independent. The NPC has a Board, consisting of thirteen eminent persons appointed by the President in consultation with the Council of State; eight members are representatives from religious bodies.
The NPC also has Regional and District Peace Councils that consist of thirteen persons that have to engage in activities that include, among others, in public education, sensitisation and awareness of conflict indicators within the region.
Executive Secretaries will operate in each region and district. They are the secretaries of the Peace Councils with experience in conflict resolution and peace building.
Peace education was given to some 100 youth from all the regions in the country to become Peace Advocates within their communities.
Capacity building programmes were established with the three main political parties to strengthen their capacities to manage diversity and conflicting interests.
Regional Peace Advisory Councils (RPAC) were established in most regions, but not all. In some regions, they were merged with regional security structures. Some District Peace Advisory Councils have been established and Peace Promotion Officers have been appointed in most regions.
NGOs/Civil society engagement
The NPC and RPCs were trained by the NGO WANEP, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding.