The Understanding Conflict and Conflict Analysis International Course conducted by the Rwanda Peace Academy, in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and King’s College London, draws to a close today. A total of 32 mid- to senior-level professionals from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Rwanda attended the course from the 24th – 28th January in Nyakinama, Musanze District. The participants, drawn from different professional backgrounds, including the Military, Police, Prison Service as well as the Unity and Reconciliation Commission, reflect the multi-dimensional nature of peace building, and this diversity of regional and professional perspectives has been successfully drawn upon throughout the course to the benefit of all participants. Aimed at building the capacity of participants to better equip them to participate in peace building initiatives as well as serve in International Peace Support Operations, this course will mark the first in a series of capacity building programs by the Rwanda Peace Academy.
The Rwanda Peace Academy: Context, Background and Strategic Niche
The Rwanda Peace Academy, a new initiative of the Government of Rwanda, supported by the Government of Japan through the United Nations Development Programme, aims to respond to the strong need for sustainable peacebuilding in Africa, as acknowledged by the United Nations and the African Union, and based on the complexity of conflicts in Africa where standard international approaches, such as short-term stabilization missions by external parties, may succeed in stemming violence temporarily, but fail to consolidate into a durable and lasting peace.
Analysis of many UN-mandated missions has shown that main problem lies in the failure to properly address early recovery and post-conflict peace building tasks, including the resettlement of displaced and refugee populations; disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration; security sector reform; judicial reforms and transitional justice; reconciliation, and power-sharing. Equally important, the lack of local ownership in peace building often ignores the local context which necessarily contains both the causes of, as well as the long-term solutions to the conflict.
Rwanda is one of the few countries in Africa that has demonstrated this realisation through the use of local institutions such as the gacaca, ingando and abunzi, among others, to address post-conflict transitional justice, reconciliation and grassroots mediation of local disputes. These innovations together with the root and branch reform of the security sector, judicial system and other key institutions have led to one of few post-conflict development success stories to date.
This is all the more remarkable given the traumatic legacy of genocide and total destruction of key institutions of governance in 1994.
The Rwanda Peace Academy is in an exceptional position to document and share these experiences with other countries facing similar post-conflict development challenges. While there are peacekeeping institutions of repute in Africa, the courses offered generally tend to be military-oriented and do not address the multi-dimensional nature of peacebuilding or the diversity of its actors. The Rwanda Peace Academy aims to fill this niche by offering training and research programs relevant to the conflict management challenges in Africa, that draw on Rwanda’s innovative peace building policies and practices at home as well as significant contributions to international peace support operations abroad, combined with international best practice.
The Rwanda Peace Academy Vision
To be an independent and internationally preferred centre for training and research into conflict prevention, management, resolution and post-conflict recovery, drawing on Rwandan and international best practice; promote research and innovative thinking responsive to the peace building challenges of the region; reflect the multidimensional and civil-military aspects of peace building; support the sustainable delivery of enhanced regional capacity building for Integrated Peace Support Operations.
The Rwanda Peace Academy Mission
To conduct research, develop and deliver internationally recognised professional training courses and related programmes to equip military and civilian personnel with the competencies and knowledge required to meet Africa’s present and future complex peace and security challenges.
Objectives of the Rwanda Peace Academy
• To enhance regional and sub-regional capacity for conflict prevention, management, resolution, post-conflict recovery and peace building, by drawing on Rwanda’s extensive experience in peace building and international best practice, as well as anticipating and preparing for future challenges.
• To contribute to the development of a regional and sub-regional capacity in the delivery of Integrated Peace Support Operations at the strategic and operational levels;
• To support the African Union Peace and Security Architecture and regional initiatives by adding value through research, capacity building and exchanges at the regional and international levels.
• To enhance understanding of critical peace and security issues, particularly the recovery-development nexus, in the region and the continent as a whole.
• To establish collaborative relations with national and international institutions and organise public events to raise awareness and promote understanding of peace building at the national and international levels.
Collaboration with International and Regional Institutions
The Rwanda Peace Academy aims to collaborate with international and national institutions committed to furthering research and training in peace building. It is partnering with the University of Peace in Costa Rica to build capacity of Rwanda Peace Academy staff. The collaboration between the Rwanda Peace Academy and UNITAR supports sustainable capacity building, by focusing on the training of trainers in partnership with 7 selected regional and national training centres in Benin, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria and South Africa as part of UNITAR’s initiative for Enhancing the Capacity of African Peacekeeping Training Institutions. Through these partnerships, UNITAR will bring up-to-date knowledge and best practices in an efficient and cost-effective manner, by delivering practical courses that will contribute to solving critical issues and challenges that are encountered by peace-builders in the field.