Civil Peace Service: Supporting the integrated peacebuilding process

Project description

Title: Civil Peace Service Programme
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Burundi
Overall term: 2014 to 2017

ZFD Burundi. Monitoring/discussion with a local leader on the sensibilization activities on transitional justice that she implemented in her community, Itaba. © GIZ

Context

Since Burundi became independent in 1962, the country has experienced several cycles of violence, culminating in a bloody civil war in 1993. Although this war ended in 2008, Burundian society remains divided and faces enormous challenges as a result of its turbulent past.

More than 300,000 people were killed during the civil war alone, and an estimated 700,000 have left the country. Very little effort has been made thus far to deal with the legacy of the past. A culture of impunity has therefore taken root. Large sections of the population are traumatised by their individual and collective experiences of war. This has resulted in mistrust between the different ethnic and, in particular, political groups as well as an increased propensity to resort to violence and fear of a resurgence of the violence of the past. Poverty, weak institutions and land disputes, particularly in connection with returning refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), are placing additional strain on the already fragile peace.

Objective

Peacebuilding and non-violent approaches to conflict transformation in governmental and non-governmental structures are strengthened, thus enabling the people of Burundi to deal with the past and resolve emerging conflicts without resorting to violence.

ZFD Burundi. ‘Football for peace’ at the Kamenge Youth Center, Bujumbura. © GIZ

Approach

Within the context of the national peace and reconciliation process, the Civil Peace Service (CPS) programme is strengthening the capacity of civil society in particular to implement mechanisms designed to help the Burundian people deal with the past, as provided for by the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement of 2000. CPS is also supporting the development of civil society alternatives to the government’s efforts in this context. In future, survivors’ organisations will play an important role in the formulation and enforcement of victims’ rights.

In cooperation with UNICEF, CPS is supporting both state-run family centres at the community level and other social institutions in their efforts to enhance services in the areas of trauma counselling and civil conflict transformation and thus establish a nationwide system for psychosocial rehabilitation. To stop the cycle of violence, it promotes dialogue between different generations and raises awareness of non-violent approaches to conflict resolution, particularly among children, teenagers and young adults.

In addition to UNICEF, CPS’s partner organisations include Burundi’s Ministry of National Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender, the Platform for actors in the field of psychosocial support and mental health (Plateforme des intervenants dans le domaine psycho-social et de la santé mentale), the Forum for the promotion of civil society (Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile), Trauma Healing And Reconciliation Services, and various organisations which support victims of violence.

Results

  • More than 300 local authorities and representatives of civil society have received training at the provincial and community level on the key aspects of transitional justice. In their role as multipliers, they have informed in excess of a further 6,000 people about the opportunities and limits of participating in the process of dealing with the past.
  • A training strategy for the provision of psychological support for victims of trauma has been developed jointly. More than 500 employees from state structures at the provincial and community level have benefited from this training.
  • Measures designed to raise awareness among the population of structures providing psychosocial support have achieved their aim. Victims are making use of these services, which facilitates their rehabilitation and reintegration into their communities.
  • Through workshops and training activities on the prevention of violence and on conflict transformation, more than 500 participants have improved their conflict resolution skills. This is an important step in the reconciliation of rival political and ethnic groups.

Further information