Rwanda’s recovery processes from the horrors of the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in 1994 needs to be studied, discussed and analyzed for sustainable peace and development. Stories of what, how, when and why it happened and aftermath consequences and strategies of coping with it need to be reviewed and revisited by youths if peace is to be durable for they are the principal instruments of social change.
The small number of youth involved in the decision making processes statewide is startling given that youth constitute the biggest population throughout the country. This is of concern given that many key policy decisions affecting youth are made without their voice. Therefore youth have a critical role to play in social change, not just into the future as adults, but immediately as active citizens today. The active involvement of young people in the democratic processes is a key aspect towards their well-being, effectiveness as individuals and as contributing citizens.
It is against this backdrop, Never Again Rwanda established a bi-annual 2-week Peace-Building Institute (PBI).The Peace-Building Institute was founded as a platform that brings together Rwandan, regional and international university students and young professionals to examine and discuss how post genocide society has dealt with legacies left by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It is a forum where the challenges and strategies used by Rwanda to extricate itself from the consequences of the genocide and reshape the present and future are discussed.
Since it began, the Peace-building Institute has been used as an organized strategy by Never Again Rwanda to call for the elimination of genocide by raising awareness about the reality of genocide as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international level.
It is also a platform used to bridge the gap between the formal institutions and youth, filling a critical gap of unmet needs. It explores the possibilities of how youth can be more involved in policy making processes.
- To reflect on Rwanda’s history and Genocide committed against the Tutsi in 1994.
- To provide youths with a forum for learning and understanding the concepts of genocide history and its prevention, transitional justice, good governance and development, and human rights.
- To build a universal network of global citizens that are empowered to act against genocide and others crimes against humanity.
The thematic area of study is determined based on the received and expressed learning needs of the participants and feedback from the previous peace-building institute. At the end of each Peace-Building Institute, participants evaluate the program in terms of content, organization and management. Most importantly the participants consider sub-themes emerging from the PBI discussions that require further reflection and discussion. Subsequently, they suggest the topics for the next Peace-Building Institute.
This year’s peace-building institution will focus on the following themes:
- Genocide: History and Prevention
- Transitional Justice
- Good Governance and Development
- Human rights
Beginning this winter 2014, NAR is aiming to expand its thematic breadth to include a component specifically concerned with human rights. Previously established themes of genocide: history and prevention, transitional justice, good governance and development have included passing and periodic reference to human rights, but much can be gained by isolating these pressing human rights questions for further inquiry.
This new theme will add much more to the academic nature of the PBI, as questions concerning human rights are open to much philosophical, practical, legal, and theoretical consideration. Playing into the overarching question of “What can Rwanda teach the world?” a discussion of human rights in the Rwandan context will undoubtedly expose the tension and contradictions between universal human rights standards and the challenges of a post-genocide society.
In making room for a fourth subject, NAR must carefully compress its schedule further, evaluating what previous activities have proven successful, could be improved, or should be removed altogether.