Simon Simonse

Simon Simonse (1943) is a consultant on issues of conflict transformation, mediation and reconciliation operating under the name “INCLUSION consultants”, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

He studied cultural anthropology with a focus on Africa in Utrecht, Leiden and Paris (1961-1970). In 1990 he obtained a doctorate from the Free University of Amsterdam for his dissertation on sacral kingship in South Sudan which was based on field-work carried out while he was a staff of the University of Juba (1980-1986)

Simonse’s earlier career was in the field of education. Beginning as a secondary school teacher in the D.R. Congo, he taught in Makerere University (Kampala), in a College for Social Work in Amsterdam and in the University of Juba, South Sudan.  After an intermezzo in Asia (1989-1993, as a research coach in an Indonesian university and a visiting fellow in the Museum of Ethnology in Osaka) he returned to Africa to set up a trauma programme for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda (for TPO, Transcultural Psychosocial Organization). The common denominator of most his work since 1993 is conflict transformation, with Eastern Africa as its geographical focus. He was a UN staff in Rwanda during the three years following the genocide. As a consultant (LARJOUR consultancy) Simonse carried out assignments in Uganda and South Sudan.  

In 2000 Pax Christi Netherlands employed Simonse as the leader of its Small Arms and Community Security Programme. The programme aimed to mobilize and accompany civil society organisations of the Horn and Great Lakes of Africa in the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms. He was responsible for the organization of several international conferences on small arms control, for the co-ordination of research to identify on strategies of civil society and community participation in small arms disarmament (with Karamoja, Uganda , as pilot area), and for the production of a series of  publications on lessons learnt. Between 2001 and 2008 he co-ordinated programmes that supported inter-communal peace building in South Sudan and other efforts to promote dialogue and consensus between stakeholders (church-leaders, civil society groups, armed groups) in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005.

From 2004 he was stationed in Nairobi. After a number of failed attempts, spread out over a period of six years, it was possible, in 2006, to bring the Government of Uganda and representatives of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) around the table for peace negotiations. When the Juba Talks stalled not long after the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement, the Pax Christi initiative was taken over by the UN and the Government of South Sudan. A similar attempt to engage the ADF-NALU (Allied Democratic Forces- National Army for the Liberation of Uganda) carried out in collaboration with MONUC went on for two years. IKV Pax Christi withdrew when the parties did not comply with the confidence building agreement regarding demobilization of combatants and release of ADF detainees.

In 2008 Simonse retired as an IKV Pax Christi staff but continued working as a consultant. Since 2009 he accompanies the ‘Support Group for Inclusive Governance’, in Eastern Equatoria, South Sudan in establishing  local level councils  as foreseen in the Local Government Act (2009). The councils not only include the traditional age-class based authorities but also, untraditionally, women and youth. In 2013 he helped to put the peace negotiations between the Government of South Sudan and the South Sudan Democratic Movement/South Sudan Defence Army (SSDM/A), led by David Yau Yau, on the rails  which resulted in an agreement in May 2014.

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