Conflict and Peacebuilding in the African Great Lakes Region

Conflict and Peacebuilding in the African Great Lakes Region

Conflict and Peacebuilding in the African Great Lakes Region

Conflict and Peacebuilding in the African Great Lakes Region

Synopsis

Driven by genocide, civil war, political instabilities, ethnic and pastoral hostilities, the African Great Lakes Region, primarily Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burundi, has been overwhelmingly defined by conflict. Kenneth Omeje, Tricia Redeker Hepner, and an international group of scholars, many from the Great Lakes region, focus on the interlocking conflicts and efforts toward peace in this multidisciplinary volume. These essays present a range of debates and perspectives on the history and politics of conflict, highlighting the complex internal and external sources of both persistent tension and creative peacebuilding. Taken together, the essays illustrate that no single perspective or approach can adequately capture the dynamics of conflict or offer successful strategies for sustainable peace in the region.

Excerpt

The African Great Lakes region is one of marked contrasts and striking continuities. Beset by destructive conflicts, it also possesses extraordinary potential for peace and development. From biodiversity to solid minerals and human talents, this geopolitical space is endowed with abundant natural and cultural resources. Some of the world’s most ecologically diverse freshwater systems, subtropical rainforests, savannah grasslands, and temperate highlands with immense extractive, agricultural, and touristic value are found in the Great Lakes region. In addition, it is culturally and linguistically diverse, comprising population groups with rich and dynamic historical, religious, economic, political, and legal traditions that have both endured and been transformed by internal and external factors. In defining what constitutes the African Great Lakes region, we must therefore include not only the nation-states that comprise it—Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Tanzania—but also the historical, sociopolitical, cultural, and economic geographies that cross and complicate these constructed borders.

Despite its great potential for development—or perhaps because of it—a variety of complex political conflicts at least partly related to the construction of nationstate borders have plagued the African Great Lakes region: genocide in Rwanda; civil wars in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Uganda; flawed democratic elections and violence in Kenya; ethnic hostilities and pastoral conflicts in most states; as well as boundary disputes, cross-border rebel incursions, and interest-driven political interventionism. The loss of life and livelihoods is nothing . . .

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