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Executive Summary – Resilience Capacities for Reconciliation in the Great Lakes Sub-Region

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Executive Summary

This report presents the results of research conducted in Burundi, Rwanda and the provinces of North and South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to identify the resilience capacities that foster reconciliation practices. The three countries make up the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC), a sub-regional body established in 1976 to advance the economic and social development and peace among the member countries. This sub-region has been marred by years of violent conflict as a result of the lead up to and the aftermath of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.

Identity-based conflicts have led to cycles of political and ethnic violence in the sub-region. In Burundi, the most notable episodes of violence occurred in 1965, 1972, 1988 and 1993. The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda was a culmination of cycles of inter-ethnic violence that commenced in 1959. The impact of this Genocide reverberated throughout the region, particularly in eastern DRC, as individuals and groups moved around the three countries. The First Congo War (commenced in 1996) and the Second Congo War, which commenced in 1998, led to the largest number of conflict related deaths since World War II. The consequences of these conflicts continue and the presence of armed groups in Eastern DRC render the context persistently insecure. The 2015 electoral crisis in Burundi, led to a movement of refugees in the sub-region and a consequential deterioration of relations between Rwanda and Burundi, resulting in barriers to the movement of people and goods and impeding efforts to enhance regional cooperation.

Today, each country in the region is on its own trajectory of reconstruction and reconciliation. In Rwanda, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission has taken the lead in promoting social cohesion in the wake of international and national transitional justice processes. In Burundi, the Arusha Accords of 2000 established a basis for power-sharing and overall peace and reconciliation. In the DRC, several peace agreements have been signed, including the latest agreement concluded in 2013 in Addis Ababa. Previous efforts to establish a national reconciliation commission in the DRC have faced challenges, but the change of government after the December 2018 elections offers an opportunity to relaunch a process aimed at strengthening national cohesion and good governance.