Plateau State is located in central Nigeria, in the “Middle Belt” of the country which divides the majority Muslim north with the predominantly Christian south. These divisions have occasionally been the cause of conflict when translated into the political arena (such as during the electoral violence that followed the 2011 presidential elections), but it is periodical competition for resources between farmers and pastoralists, and the historic grievances associated with such competition, that drove an ongoing low-intensity conflict between communities in southern Plateau State, focused in the local government areas of Langtang North, Langtang South, Mikang, Shendam, Qua’an-Pan, and Wase. These districts, richly endowed in land and natural resources, attract significant numbers of pastoralist groups not just from southern Plateau State, but also from neighbouring states such as Nassarawa, Taraba, and Bauchi in times of conflict, political upheaval, or drought.footnote1 Eight investigations were carried out on the violence in southern Plateau State between 2001 and 2006, and in 2010 the Nigerian military launched Operation Safe Haven in an effort to reduce armed conflict across the area. These efforts did bring relative stability to some areas, such as Jos, the largest city in the state, but failed to end armed conflict in Plateau State.
Following its successes in Kaduna and another part of Plateau State, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) facilitated a lengthy inter-communal dialogue process between 56 communities from the affected areas of Langtang North, Langtang South, Mikang, Shendam, Qua’an-Pan, and Wase.footnote2 Each community contributed six delegates (representing a development/cultural association, traditional council, youth, women, religion, and a prominent figure) to the process. These delegates then served in joint working groups facilitated by HD and attended by local, state, and federal government representatives. The dialogue culminated with the signing of the Southern Plateau Peace Declaration in December 2016 at a ceremony attended by the German and US ambassadors, traditional elders, and a range of public officials.footnote3 The wide range of communities signing up to the declaration committed to resolving any disputes between them peacefully and improving the security situation together. A monitoring committee formed from signatories to the declaration, the Plateau Peace Dialogue Forum, and the Plateau Peace Building Agency worked to ensure implementation and monitor adherence to its terms.footnote4 Although conflict and violence continue in parts of Plateau State, the low intensity conflicts between communities in the areas covered in the Peace Declaration have ended.