In the News: Report from Conference on Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Societies in Africa

The Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) has just released their report from the International Conference on Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Societies in Africa that was held October 2014. The published report and photos from the conference feature the diversity of the participants and of the perspectives given on transitional justice in Africa.

In addition to a summary of the presentations, the report offers policy recommendations to governmental, civil society, and academic actors, including integrating studies of peace and reconciliation in schools, incorporating gender as part of the justice process, disseminating shared knowledge and lessons learned at all levels of the process to all stakeholders, and involving community leaders and religious groups as part of formal peacebuilding processes.

As important as these suggestions are, what is important is the details of their enactment, whether the spirit of the recommendations are followed—what is called in the report “restorative justice”—instead of merely boxes to tick.

We will soon be posting a case study from Kenya by Jackie Ogega, which illustrates how to incorporate many of the Hekima conference’s recommendations into peacebuilding practice.

In the News: “Reductive Seduction” in Creating Meaning from Others’ Lives

One of the issues that The CIHA Blog contends with is the problematic argument that people are just trying to “do good,” that their motives are genuine, that any problem is solvable if one just has enough determination or, possibly, money. But as Courtney Martin writes, “There is real fallout when well-intentioned people attempt to solve problems without acknowledging the underlying complexity.” She encourages people to face the complexity, especially of problems they are more familiar with closer to home. Her article echoes many others The CIHA Blog has posted, such as “Reconceptualizing Charity,” Ayesha Nibbe’s popular post on Invisible Children, and a critique of the film “When the Night Comes.”

The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems
by Courtney Martin for Medium

In the News: The Human-Rights Ideology and its Limits–The Urgency of African Agency

by Cilas Kemedjio

On January 10, 2011, a Cameroonian newspaper reported a grant of 300,000 euros (about US $350 million at the time) made by the European Union to three Cameroonian LGBT advocacy groups. The reporter presented the gift as controversial on grounds that it was an infringement on national sovereignty. On September 13, 2011 the Foreign Affairs Ministry expressed its concerns to European diplomats on the need to respect African cultural values and the right to difference (le droit à la difference). On March 29, 2012, another newspaper reported that the US ambassador in Cameroon, Robert P. Jackson sent a letter to the Cameroonian Justice Minister to lobby for the abrogation on the same-sex criminalization law (homosexualité).

This scene has been replayed over and over in many parts of the continent where standing up to the bullying of Western diplomats has become a rallying cry for the newfound African cultural nationalism. We learn from the New York Times article, “U.S. Support of Gay Rights in Africa May Have Done More Harm Than Good,” that more than half of gay-rights diplomacy is dedicated to Africa. Continue reading

In the News: The Humanitarian Promise of A Shared Memory / Actualités: la promesse humanitaire d’une mémoire partagée

In French/Pour Français

Photo Credit: Jeffrey O. Gustafson. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

Photo Credit: Jeffrey O. Gustafson. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons –

Dear Readers: In early October, Former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson wrote a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron asking for an apology for Britain’s role in slavery. The below is a response piece from CIHA Blog co-editor Cilas Kemedjio. We welcome your comments!

by Cilas Kemedjio

The first article of the May 21, 2001 Law adopted by the French Parliament reads as follow: “The French Republic recognizes that the transatlantic slave trade and slavery perpetrated from the Middle Ages against African populations deported to Europe, the Americas and the Indian Ocean represent (constitutes) a crime against humanity”. This so-called Taubira Law is named after Christiane Taubira—the current French justice minister, then deputy representing the South American county of Guyana in the French National Assembly. Authors and defenders of the law, recruited mostly from the French left, justified its raison d’être by the need to make these tragic historical events part of the national memory and national conversation. Continue reading

In the News: Reassessing Madagascar’s “Donor Orphan” Problem / Réévaluer le problème de « orphelin de donateur » de Madagascar

posted by Bangirana Albert Billy

In French/Pour Français

In “Think Again: Sorry Madagascar, Your Problems Aren’t Hot Enough,” Simon Allison, writing for the Institute for Security Studies, underscores the paradox behind the ‘opulent’ publicity and ‘indigent’ privacy of the Madagascan humanitarian discourse. In his analysis, Allison critiques the often-opulent displays of “a country in crisis,” and argues for a more just and equal approach to determining which countries are most in need of critical humanitarian attention. He highlights several factors—including geographical location, regional governance structures, and perceptions of need—that may be exacerbating Madagascar’s seeming invisibility to the international donor fraternity. Continue reading