n Conflict Trends - Development sensitivity for reconciliation : lessons learned from Rwanda

Volume 2012, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Reconciliation and development are deeply interconnected in conflict-affected societies. The relationship between them, however, is far from self-evident. This article examines the nature of their interdependence and explores ways in which practitioners of reconciliation and development can integrate these two sets of activities. Examples of relevant concepts in reconciliation and development will be derived from the research I conducted in Rwanda in January 2012. This is supplemented by the practical experience I have gained over the years as a practitioner of reconciliation and development in Africa and elsewhere.

In this article, development is defined as a progressive satisfaction of basic human needs, both material and non-material, with the emphasis on those most in need. Reconciliation refers to a sustained communal process that facilitates healing from trauma and closure to revenge. Conceptually, reconciliation is a subtype of conflict transformation. This is a term used to describe an umbrella category of practices that seek to understand conflict sources and contexts in a systematic, multi-angled manner. This understanding is used to redirect the way of relationship-building toward sustainable coexistence. While this article focuses primarily on reconciliation, it also argues that lessons learned from this inquiry apply to conflict transformation in general. This is because reconciliation and conflict transformation both share the core practice of rebuilding human relationships.

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