Reconciliation taking root in Rwanda
On 30th May, the Rwanda National parliament launched a report of a study on “The Constant Quest for Solutions through Dialogue and Consensus in Rwanda”
The objective of the study was to explore how Rwandans understand the principles of dialogue and consensus and also to evaluate if and how the reconciliation mechanism put in place after the 1994 Genocide are working.
The study, conducted by the Senate, is supported by UNDP through the Programme “Deepening Democracy and Accountable Governance” which has the National Parliament as one of its partners.
In his opening remarks, The President of the Senate Mr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo welcomed the report by saying “the findings and conclusion of this report shows that our efforts, for the last twenty years, to reconcile Rwandans are truly bearing fruits”
The report is in line with the senate’s mandate to supervise the implementation of the fundamental principles as enshrined in Article 9 of the Constitution of Rwanda, which include and not limited to fighting the ideology of genocide and all its manifestations; eradication of ethnic, regional and other divisions and promotion of national unity; and the constant quest for solutions through dialogue and consensus.
The study assessed effectiveness of mechanism such as Gacaca (traditional dispute resolution mechanism), Abunzi (Community Mediators), Umuganda (community work), Girinka (one cow per family) and community Juries among others.
The results of study suggest that there is a relatively high level of community engagement in dialogue and reconciliation - 84%. There are also high levels of satisfaction with different mechanisms. For instance 87% were satisfied with Umuganda. Civil society participation was however shown to be weak.
The study concluded that the mechanism for dialogue and consensus have helped local communities to solve problems for themselves. They have also made a direct and indirect contribution to the increase in social cohesion among Rwandans.
In discussing the findings, Prof Anastase Shyaka the CEO of Rwanda Governance Board said that “the study reveals some things we knew but had not confirmed; It also reveals some things we did not know about” He gave the example of home grown poverty reduction strategies such as Girinka, which were designed without necessarily focusing on reconciliation, but turned out to be peace and reconciliation tools.
In his remarks, the UNDP Country Director, Auke Lootsma said that “These mechanisms have allowed for genuine national ownership of the reconciliation process - Rwandans working with and for Rwandans- trying to heal the deep wounds of the nation.”
He further emphasized the importance of putting in place integrated and inclusive multi-sectoral approaches that ensured that democratic principles, promotion and respect of human rights, and social protection are at the core of dialogue and consensus. This will ensure that on one hand there is genuine reconciliation and on the other, the pursuit of justice for all. “Civil society have potential important role to play in this context” he concluded.