Challenges to Peace: Conflict Resolution in the Great Lakes Region of Africa

Efforts to bring peace and reconstruction to the Central African region have been fashioned by contemporary conflict resolution models that have a standard formula of peace negotiations, with a trajectory of ceasefire agreements, transitional governments, demilitarization, constitutional reform and ending with democratic elections. Local dynamics and the historical and multifaceted nature of the conflicts are rarely addressed. Furthermore, participants in the peace process are restricted to representatives of political parties, the state and rebel movements, to the exclusion of civil society. Using as examples the conflicts and peace processes in three Great Lakes countries-Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo-the paper contends that contemporary global frameworks for peacemaking and peace building that rest on the acceptance of neoliberal political and economic models cannot lay the foundations for the conditions necessary for sustainable peace. This necessitates the utilisation of a more inclusive concept of peace, the starting point of which has to be the emancipation of African humanity.

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