Elizabeth Lwanga has been a beacon of peace, working behind the scenes to mend broken ties on the continent.
The retired Ambassador to the UN (1990-2008) currently works as a Development Advisor and Leadership Development Advisor and Executive Coach. She serves on a number of Boards of Directors supporting special causes, notably conflict resolution, peace building, restoration of values and ethics, mentoring for young women and particularly the plight of those affected by the war in northern Uganda.
< p>In the 1990s she was in Sierra Leone, where she used her diplomatic skills to bring the warring factions of the civil war to the negotiating table, which culminated in the 1996 Abidjan Peace Accords. As UNDP representative in the country at the time, Lwanga played a key role in initiating the first peace process to end the war. In 1998, the people of Sierra Leone honored her with the prestigious honorary title of Paramount Chief Mammy Yoko II.
Recalling the events, she says: “It came as a total surprise when it was in the middle of the national consultation on Future of Sierra Leone in Bo Town, Southern Province, it was announced that I was to be appointed Honorary Chief Mammy Yoko II.
“I was overwhelmed by the recognition of my efforts as UNDP representative to work for peace to work in Sierra Leone. The real rewards for development work are the results of our efforts and the difference we make in people’s lives,” she added.
Lwanga was in Kenya during the 2007/08 post-election crisis.
“As United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya from 2006 to 2008, I was responsible for coordinating the United Nations response to the crisis following the 2007 elections. and the fact that I had lived in Kenya before between 1971 and 1989 helped me. In addition to setting up the UN systems and processes to deal with the humanitarian emergency, my focus was on finding a peaceful solution immediately,” she says.
“We sought the support of the former Africa Forum of African Presidents , including Kenneth Kaunda from Zambia, Joachim Chissano from Mozambique, Quett Masire from Botswana and Benjamin Mkapa from Tanzania, some of whom had assisted me in our work on the constitution in Swaziland. They were able to get the protagonists to engage in a dialogue to resolve the crisis. We then provided technical assistance to the African Union-appointed team of senior negotiators, who translated the process into a negotiated settlement that restored peace in Kenya,” she adds.
Lwanga served as Deputy Regional Director for Africa UNDP, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Representative in Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Ethiopia and Kenya.