Industry experts converge at peacebuilding seminar


Leading researchers, practitioners, and policymakers working in post-conflict peacebuilding, met in South Africa under the auspices of the University of Denver, the Chr. Michelsen Institute, the Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative, and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) to discuss new strategies for working in conflict areas.

Collectively representative partners from the global South took into consideration the nature and dynamics that underpin international human rights frameworks and their effect on preventing or exacerbating tensions at the local government level in these regions. 

The project, which targeted at a number of international bodies like the United Nations, highlights that local actors often adapt or reject international norms in the face of unresponsive local governments – because these norms are seen to be too vague and impractical to the needs of local communities.

CSVR Research Manager Masana Ndinga-Kanga says the project will also look at various local case studies for South Africa: “These case studies show that while international norms have been incorporated into the South African legal and policy framework, work still needs to be done around localization and delivering socioeconomic and political rights.”

The failures at the local government level, says Ndinga-Kanga, further contribute to undermining sustainable peace in South Africa because the legal framework, such as the constitution, provide for certain rights but implementation in an unequal and sometimes problematic manner contribute to frustration in communities.

The five local case studies include:

  • Khayelitsha and the sanitation wars over the right to sanitation,
  • #FeesMustFall and the right to decolonized higher education,
  • the Community Works Program and the right to work,
  • the right to reparations for victims of apartheid and
  • women’s rights in democratic South Africa.

The “Innovations in Peacebuilding" workshop in March also aimed to share and draw lessons learned on rights-based peacebuilding in conflict-affected countries with other studies from the Americas, Asia, Kenya and Rwanda. It also aims to understand how international norms can work better for sustainable peace given what emerges on how local actors adopt, adapt or reject international norms.

Speakers included Timothy Sisk, Professor of International and Comparative Politics (Denver University); Peter Kagwanja, Kenyan intellectual and expert on security, governance and strategic issues (Africa Policy Institute); Lizwe Jamela, Human Rights Lawyer (Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights); Astri Suhrke, Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (Norway); Kudzai Makombe,  Deputy Director of the Bilateral Programmes and Partner Relations (Southern Africa); and Hugo van der Merwe, Director of Research (CSVR).


To see a short video with highlights from the Innovations in Peacebuilding seminar, see below:





“Innovations in Peacebuilding” is a two-year research, dialogue, and policy project that explores innovative ways in which international organizations, donors, governments, and local non-governmental organizations conduct activities aimed at conflict prevention and management, peacebuilding and reconciliation.

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