SOAS University of London

London conference helps amplify voices from Rwanda to influence international debates on sustainable peace

18 June 2018

A major conference in London on post conflict reconstruction and sustainable peace in Rwanda brought together leading Rwandan researchers who are working on some of the most sensitive issues currently dominating the political, social and economic terrain in the country.

The conference ‘Rwandan Perspectives on Post Conflict Reconstruction and Sustainable PeaceEnhancing ResearchInfluencing Policy’ featured a programme entirely of Rwandan researchers. This was a landmark event, given how rarely conferences in Europe or North America feature lineups comprising solely African speakers.

rwanda conference

Attended by more than 200 people, the conference hosted speakers looking at a range of issues on ethnic identity, post-conflict citizenship education, minority rights, intergenerational guilt after the 1994 genocide, gender and intra-family dynamics, the impact of sexual violence and agrarian reform.

Dr Phil Clark, Reader in Comparative and International Politics and one of the organisers of the conference, said: “For too long the assumption has been that, because of the political atmosphere in Rwanda, local researchers are too cowed to produce high quality scholarship. Their voices have been ignored unjustly – and international debates have suffered from an absence of local perspectives. This conference also tapped into wider discussions around decolonising knowledge and amplifying Global South voices in international academic and policy debates.”

The conference was one of the outcomes of the Research, Policy and Higher Education (RPHE) programme, established by Dr Clark in 2014 through the Aegis Trust in Rwanda. This programme is funded by DFID and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and designed to support the Rwandan research community.

Since the RPHE was founded, some 50 Rwandan researchers have been trained and mentored, and have been able to publish their working papers and policy briefs on the programme's website, the Genocide Research Hub.

Dr Clark also forms part of a team that was awarded a British Academy grant to run a writing workshop for those 50 researchers in Kigali in July 2018. This workshop will be used to help the researchers turn their working papers into peer-reviewed journal articles.

‘Rwandan Perspectives on Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Sustainable Peace: Enhancing Research, Influencing Policy’ was held at King’s College London and co-hosted by the Aegis Trust, the Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, and the Department of Politics and International Studies at SOAS – with funding provided by DFID, the King’s Law School and the SOAS Engagement and Impact Fund.