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January 7, 2011

Oregon Law assistant director headed to Southern Sudan

Jessica Walker-Keleher to lead United Nations peace building project

Jessica Walker-Keleher, assistant director for the Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center at the University of Oregon School of Law, will leave Oregon on January 14 in order to lead the United Nations’ Education for Peace Project in Southern Sudan. Jessica Walker-Keleher

The project is a collaboration among several UN agencies including the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the International Labour Organization (ILO); the Ministry of Education; and several additional partners.

In addition to designing and managing this project, Walker-Keleher will contribute to the development of education programs, policies and strategies targeting emergencies and post-conflict recovery situations in Southern Sudan. She will spend up to nine months building this capacity in the country.

Walker-Keleher brings a combination of experience in education, research, non-profit management, and mediation to this peace building project. Before joining Oregon Law in 2008, she led a ten-person project team researching gender and armed conflict at the Boston Consortium on Gender, Security and Human Rights. She has consulted previously with the UN; served as director of training for the National Resource Center for Youth Mediation; taught mediation at the University of New Mexico; was a conflict resolution trainer for MAP International in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo; and helped found the Community Dispute Resolution Center in her home town of Missoula, Mont.

“The next year in Southern Sudan is going to have a dramatic impact on the country’s future.” Walker-Keleher said. “It will be an honor to support the Southern Sudanese who have been – and will continue to do – the long and hard work of building capacity for peace in their country.”

Walker-Keleher’s time in Southern Sudan comes at a pivotal point as South Sudanese voters will decide the fate of the region’s independence in a referendum on January 9. The referendum is the centerpiece of a 2005 peace accord that ended two decades of civil war between the mostly Muslim north and the oil-producing south, where Christianity dominates.

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