Ending Zimbabwe's Conflict: Finding Synergy in Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Approaches

November 19, 2004 - There is an assumption that promoting respect for human rights contributes to social stability, and that conflict management and reconciliation mechanisms will ensure respect for human rights. Yet there has been little systematic evaluation of the effectiveness and impact of these initiatives, and even less attention paid to the ways in which human rights and conflict resolution practitioners interact in their approaches to peace-building. Using the case study of Zimbabwe, we sought to determine whether human rights and conflict resolution activities 1) can operate in a complementary manner at the local, national, regional and international levels; 2) would be more effective in a combined-approach to promoting the development of a stable and peaceful Zimbabwean society rather than in activities undertaken separately.

With parliamentary elections approaching in March 2005, the dangerous struggle for power, land, and food that had beleagured Zimbabwe was anticipated to worsen. White farmers had been forced off commercial farms at gunpoint; landless peasants were subjected to violent 'turf' wars between local politicians; war veterans from the liberation struggle were bickering over land to which they feel entitled but do not possess the skills to farm; and farm workers born on Zimbabwean farms, whose families migrated at one time as labor for the agricultural-boom of the past, found themselves suddenly without homes, jobs or a country they could call their own.

To address the violence in Zimbabwe that led to the destruction of the economy, food shortages and widespread brutality towards innocent men, women, and children, practitioners must find solutions to end the conflict, de-escalate the tensions, and address the rampant abuse of human rights.

We were honored to have the following experts participating in our conference:

Human Rights:
  • Hurst Hannum, Professor of International Law and Co-Director of the Center for Human Rights & Conflict Resolution [Chair of panel]
  • Andrea Lari, Advocate, Refugees International
  • Geoffrey Nyarota, Journalist and Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights, Harvard University
  • Archi Pyati, Senior Associate, Human Rights First

Conflict Resolution:
  • Eileen Babbitt, Assistant Professor of International Politics, Director of the International Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Program at Fletcher, Co-Director of the Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution [Chair of Panel]
  • Blair Rutherford, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Carleton University, Canada
  • Pauline Baker, President, The Fund for Peace
  • Robert Helvey, President, The Albert Einstein Institute
View video from the conference:

Human Rights Panel

Conflict Resolution Panel

Moderated discussion
(with all participants including questions and comments from audience)

Prospects & Challenges of Reconciliation & Peacebuilding: Reflections on cases from Africa & Latin America

October 12, 2004 - The Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) welcomed Professor Hizkias Assefa to The Fletcher School. Professor Assefa spoke on reconciliation and peace-building efforts in conflicts affecting both Africa and Latin America. The talk was hosted by CHRCR, with support from the Human Rights Project and the International Negotiation & Conflict Resolution student groups.

Hizkias Assefa has an extra-ordinary background and years of field experience addressing reconciliation and peace-building issues. He is the founder and co-coordinator of the African Peacebuilding and Reconciliation Network in Nairobi, Kenya. In addition, he has been engaged in second-track diplomacy and grassroots peace-building processes in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, southern Sudan, Afghanistan, Guatemala, Colombia, and in many other regions around the world.

Mr. Assefa has served as a consultant to the United Nations, European Union, and many international and national NGOs, conducting conflict resolution and peacebuilding training seminars and workshops in over 50 countries. A distinguished scholar, Hizkias Assefa is trained in law, economics, public management, international relations, and conflict resolution. Furthermore, he is Professor of Conflict Studies at the Conflict Transformation Graduate Program at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA and Distinguished Fellow at the Institute of Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Lastly, he has served as a resident scholar in a number of universities including Brandeis University in Waltham, MA.

Building Solidarity Across the Divisions

March 20, 2004 - The Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) participated in a conference for International Women's Day: "Building Solidarity Across the Divisions" at Simon's Rock College of Bard in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. CHRCR Senior Fellow Ellen Lutz presented the keynote address on "Human Rights and Conflict Resolution: a Gender-Based Perspective" and CHRCR Fellow for the Boston Consortium on Gender and Security, Nathalie Gahunga, participated in a panel discussion: "Working Towards a New Reality: Rights in the Aftermath of Conflict".