As mass atrocities increase in Africa, scholar Samantha Lakin reflects on lessons learned in the 23 years since Rwanda’s genocide that could help prevent future atrocities.
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Despite continuing crises on the continent, important norms, practices, and institutions have emerged since the Rwandan experience with the objective of preventing genocides.
The Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes describes specific risk factors that signal increases in susceptibility of a country to genocide. Awareness of the warning signs is important, for if states were to wait for an escalation in violence to meet the legal definition of genocide before acting, it would be too late to stop it. One risk factor most associated with genocide is identity-based discrimination. To prevent genocide, states must have the will to protect their citizens’ human rights and promote the rule of law. Providing a safe place for diverse peoples to coexist peacefully builds states’ resiliency.
African-led peace operations have been vital tools for managing Africa’s complex array of security challenges, though continued reform is needed to intervene more decisively in the continent’s most devastating conflicts.
Russia has systematically sought to undercut democracy in Africa, both to normalize authoritarianism as well as to create an entry point for Russian influence.
The seeming rapid deterioration of security in the eastern DRC and resurgence of M23 are an outcome of longstanding regional rivalries between Rwanda and Uganda.
To be more meaningful to the lives of citizens and to better realize the vision of its founders, the African Union will need to empower its technical, legislative, and judicial institutions.
Sudan’s democratic transition is under duress as the military seeks validation for its hold on power via the reinstatement of a figurehead civilian prime minister.
Stabilizing northern Mozambique will involve more than defeating violent extremists. It will also require rebuilding trust with marginalized and traumatized local communities.
Despite challenges of unemployment, corruption, entrenched political leadership, and political violence, many African youth have found constructive avenues to promote peace, effective governance, and reform.
In Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza's sudden death has exposed power struggles within the ruling party and the ascendancy of the military.
Although Nkurunziza has suppressed external reporting on Burundi, the country’s 4-year-old political and humanitarian crisis shows no signs of abating.