Community Justice for Genocide: The Gacaca Courts, Justice and Reconciliation in Rwanda

3 June 2008, 13:30 - 15:30

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane

Speaker: Dr. Phil Clark (Research Fellow in Courts and Public Policy, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford)

 

Abstract:  In 1994, the Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of 800,000 Tutsi and their Hutu and Twa sympathisers in one of the twentieth century's worst waves of mass killing.   Seven years later, the Rwandan government responded to the problem of 120,000 genocide suspects languishing in prison by instituting gacaca, a system of 9000 community courts based on a traditional mode of conflict resolution and transformed to prosecute genocide cases.  Human rights groups and international observers protested that gacaca would be nothing more than mob justice and predicted that the courts would inflame tensions between Hutu and Tutsi.  Drawing on seven years of research, including firsthand observations of community hearings and hundreds of interviews with gacaca judges, genocide suspects and survivors and Rwandan government officials, Dr. Phil Clark explores the social and political impact of the gacaca process and the prospects for justice, reconciliation and long-term peace and stability in Rwanda and the wider Great Lakes region.

Bio: Dr. Phil Clark is a Research Fellow in Courts and Public Policy at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, and co-convenor of Oxford Transitional Justice Research. He has a DPhil in Politics from Balliol College, University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.  He was previously an RCUK Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Transitional Justice Institute, University of Ulster. 

His doctoral research, based on extensive fieldwork, explored issues of post-genocide justice and reconciliation in Rwanda, focusing on the gacaca community courts. Following his doctoral work, he was the researcher and author of a project for the Open Society Justice Initiative, exploring issues of the complementarity of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and national and community-level institutions in the DRC and Uganda. The project was based on five months' fieldwork in those countries in 2006 and 2007. Dr. Clark was also technical advisor and co-author of a 2007 UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights project surveying popular perceptions of transitional justice and reconciliation in northern Uganda.  He has advised the UK, Sudanese and Ugandan governments, the ICC, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Human Rights Watch and Crisis Group on conflict issues in Africa.

Respondent: Dr. Jenny Kuper, Research Fellow at LSE 

Abstract:
Dr. Kuper will act partly as Respondent to Dr. Clark, and will
also make a short presentation on two related themes:
1) As regards gacaca courts. Drawing on her expertise on issues affecting children/youth in armed conflict situations, she will highlight a few topical questions concerning the role of these courts in relation to children/youth - both as victims/survivors and perpetrators.

2) As regards peace and development more broadly, especially in relation to the Great Lakes region, she will outline two recent socio-legal initiatives: a) the Pact on Security, Stability and Development  in the Great Lakes Region, and b) the proposed EU doctrine on Human Security (relevant, inter alia, to EU 'peacekeeping' interventions in the Great Lakes region).

Bio: Dr Jenny Kuper has worked for many years as a lawyer concerned with issues primarily involving young people. Initially qualified as a UK solicitor she worked in private practice, in a local Community Law Centre and for the Children’s Legal Centre, a national UK child advocacy organisation. She then began working in international law, obtaining a PhD (King’s College London, 1996) for her thesis on child civilians in armed conflict, which was published in 1997 by Oxford University Press (International Law Concerning Child Civilians in Armed Conflict).
Since 1999 Jenny Kuper has been a Research Fellow in the Law Department at LSE, where she is also on the Advisory Board of the LSE Centre for the Study of Human Rights. As a Research Fellow, she has completed a major research project on law and HIV/AIDS (focussing particularly on Uganda), as well as doing other writing, teaching and training. More recently she worked as a UNICEF Consultant on law reform in Nepal, and is also currently a member of the LSE’s International Humanitarian Law Project, and the Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities (‘Human Security Study Group’).


Part of the Post-Conflict & Post-Crisis Research Colloquium 

Over the next two academic years (2007-2009) the Post-Conflict and Post-Crisis Research Colloquium will seek to establish a number of regularly scheduled and publicised events, ranging from a visiting speaker programme to the extension of its smaller working subgroups (e.g. Religion and Conflict, and the Politics of Space). The group's activities over the first year (2007-2008) will culminate in a major two-day interdisciplinary conference on post-conflict and post-crisis reconstruction. 

All welcome. No registration required.