Genocide prevention In the Great Lakes Region of Africa
Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Sussex
Unit of AssessmentAnthropology and Development Studies
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Law and Legal Studies: Law
Philosophy and Religious Studies: History and Philosophy of Specific Fields
Summary of the impact
Nigel Eltringham's research has enabled him to contribute to the creation
of a regional mechanism for the prevention of war crimes, crimes against
humanity and genocide in the Great Lakes Region of Africa under the
auspices of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR)
and the office of the UN Secretary General's Special Advisor for the
Prevention of Genocide (OSAPG). This is the only mechanism of its kind in
the world. Eltringham's contribution is based on delivering training and
facilitating workshops, using the findings of his research, which directly
resulted in the formation of a series of committees, co-ordination offices
and programmes designed to prevent genocide.
This case study is based on research carried out by Nigel Eltringham
since his arrival at Sussex in 2003.
Eltringham set out to explain how, in the aftermath of the Rwanda
genocide, actors account for what happened. Given the emphasis on the role
international criminal law could play in responding to genocide in the
Great Lakes Region (first through the International Criminal Tribunal for
Rwanda (ICTR) and then the International Criminal Court (ICC)), Eltringham
began to conduct ethnographic research at the ICTR (2005-07). By
concentrating on this discursive aftermath (rather than the actual
dynamics of the genocide itself), Eltringham has been able to contribute
to an understanding of how mass atrocity can become cyclical [see Section
3, R1]; the way in which exclusionary discourse is reproduced [R2]; and
the way in which genocide victim's bodies are discursive vehicles [R3].
Responding to the evolving political situation in Rwanda, Eltringham has
published on the proscription of ethnic identities in Rwanda, arguing that
Rwandans need to be able to refer to a benign form of ethnicity to
indicate a return to `normality' [R4]. This research has explored the
court as a `historio-preservation technology' and the extent to which it
can fulfil the dual purpose of determining individual guilt or innocence
and establish a historical record [R5]. In the same vein, research has
assessed the role that non-legal epistemologies (anthropology and history)
can play in the trials through the testimony of expert witnesses [R6].
In this way, Eltringham's research has resisted reconstructing the
Rwandan genocide as a historical event but, instead, has maintained a
dynamic relationship with how others try to account for the 1994 genocide,
whether through historical analogy or legal judgement. As such, the
research has contributed to theoretical and comparative research on the
anthropology of violence, narrative and memorialisation, while also making
practical contributions to the detection of, prevention of, and response
to, mass-atrocity crimes.
References to the research
R1 Eltringham, N. (2004) Accounting for Horror: Post-Genocide
Debates in Rwanda. London: Pluto Press.
R2 Eltringham, N. (2006) `Invaders who have stolen the country':
the Hamitic hypothesis, race and the Rwandan genocide', Social
Identities, 12(4): 425-46.
R3 Eltringham, N. (2013) `Exhibition, dissimulation et «culture»:
le traitement des corps dans le génocide (au sujet du Rwanda)', in
Anstett, E. and Dreyfus, J.-M. (eds) Cadavres Impensables, Cadavres
Impensés. Approches Méthodologiques du Traitement des Corps dans les
Violences de Masse et les Génocides. Paris: Editions Petra.
R4 Eltringham, N. (2011) `The past is elsewhere: the paradoxes of
proscribing ethnicity in post-genocide Rwanda', in Waldorf, L. and Straus,
C. (eds) Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass
Violence. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 269-82.
R5 Eltringham, N. (2009) 'We are not a truth commission':
fragmented narratives and the historical record at the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda', in Identity, Justice and `Reconciliation'
in Contemporary Rwanda, Special Issue, Journal of Genocide Research,
R6 Eltringham, N. (2013) `Illuminating the broader context':
anthropological and historical knowledge at the International Criminal
Tribunal for Rwanda', Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute,
Outputs can be supplied by the University on request.
Details of the impact
Eltringham's research has contributed to the development of early-warning
mechanisms to prevent genocide and other mass-atrocity crimes in the Great
Lakes Region, South Sudan and Kenya.
In 1994 an estimated 937,000 Rwandans, the vast majority Tutsi, were
murdered in a genocide committed by militia elements of the army, often
with the participation of the local population. The repercussions of the
Rwandan genocide led to conflict in the neighbouring Democratic Republic
of Congo, where more than 5 million people have died since 1996 as a
result of the fighting. In Uganda, the insurgency of the Lord's Resistance
Army (which began in 1988) has killed an estimated 100,000 people,
displaced 2.5 million people and involved the abduction of up to 100,000
children. In Sudan, in the Darfur region, it is estimated that, since
2003, between 200,000 and 400,000 people have been killed and 2.3 million
have been displaced. In Kenya, 1,300 people were killed and up to 600,000
displaced in post-election violence between December 2007 and January
Since 2010, the Office of the UN Secretary General's Special Advisor for
the Prevention of Genocide (OSAPG) has been working with the International
Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR; an inter-governmental
organisation of eleven member-states) to implement the 2006 `Protocol for
the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes and
Crimes against Humanity and all Forms of Discrimination. Eltringham was
asked to participate in training at the regional and national levels,
where findings from his research on the Rwandan genocide are employed to
explain the key characteristics of mass-atrocity crimes and the ways in
which they can be prevented.
Acting as a consultant-trainer for the OSAPG, over four days in mid-July
2011, Eltringham delivered a knowledge-exchange programme on genocide
prevention to civil-society representatives and government
officials/military officers in Juba, South Sudan. Eltringham delivered two
presentations in which he drew directly on his research on the Rwandan
genocide and its aftermath. The issues covered included perpetrators'
fantasies, paranoia, the use of euphemisms and dehumanisation, the use of
history to claim victimhood, the dangers of collectivising guilt and the
role of international criminal justice. Alongside another expert who
presented on the role of the media in genocide, Eltringham led group
discussion and facilitated group exercises. The training was attended by
the Chairperson and members of the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation
Commission (SSPRC). At the initiative of the SSPRC, in response to the
workshop, the South Sudan government established a national Conflict Early
Warning and Response Unit (CEWERU) in May 2012 [see Section 5, C1]. Mr
Castro Wesamba, OSAPG Political Affairs Officer, reported that, since the
training, `The government has established an early warning mechanism for
the prevention of violence and related mass atrocities [and] has
prioritized joining ICGLR with particular interest in the Regional
Committee for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities' [C2]. South
Sudan proceeded to join the ICGLR on 24 November 2012 and Eltringham
returned to Juba in September 2013 to participate in the official launch
and training of the South Sudan National Committee.
ICGLR regional committee
Over two days in February 2012, Eltringham delivered, in Dar es Salaam,
Tanzania, genocide prevention training to the Regional Committee of the
ICGLR based on his research. Additional training was provided by a Kenyan
expert (Raymond Kitevu) on Early Warning Systems. At the end of the
training the Regional Committee announced the creation of a coordination
office at the ICGLR secretariat to analyse reports and mappings from
member-states to enable Early Warning to the Heads of State [C3]. Mr
Nathan Byamukama, Secretary to the Regional Committee on Prevention of
Genocide, has stated that 'Having acknowledged the value of the training
in its official communiqué of 8 February 2012, the members of the
committee have continued to draw on Nigel's and Raymond's training as they
continue their vital work of bringing an end to genocide and mass-atrocity
crimes in the Great Lakes Region' [C4].
Tanzanian national committee
Over two days in February 2012, Eltringham worked with the Tanzanian
National Committee in Dar es Salaam and used his research on the Rwandan
genocide to assist in the creation of a twelve-month work plan for the
Tanzanian national committee [C5]. With the increase in inter-religious
tension in Tanzania (riots in Zanzibar in October 2012 and the bombing of
a church in Arusha in May 2013), the Tanzanian National Committee held
(between June and July 2013) three Peace Forums, targeting religious
leaders as an important group in building peace and social cohesion in
Tanzania [C6]. Ms Felistas Mushi (National Coordinator and Chair of the
Tanzanian National Committee for the Prevention of Genocide) has written
to Eltringham stating that 'The initial training that you (and Raymond
Kitevu) provided ... is in fact the foundation of our work, as it informed
the planning and implementation of the peace forums' [C7].
In August 2012, Eltringham delivered, in Naivasha, Kenya, a two-day
workshop on genocide prevention to the Kenyan National Committee and
assisted in the creation of a twelve-month workplan for the committee.
Additional training was provided by a Kenyan expert on Early Warning
Systems. At the end of the training, the national committee announced the
creation of a `Public Awareness and Advocacy Programme on the Prevention
of Genocide and Mass Atrocities' [C8]. With a new election due to be held
in March 2013, the Kenyan National Committee organised a sensitisation
workshop for Coast Province [C9].
Sources to corroborate the impact
C1 Launch of South Sudan's national Early Warning and Response
C2 Email from Political Affairs Officer, Office of the Special
Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Received 7 August 2012.
C3 ICGLR Regional Committee for the Prevention of Genocide (2012)
Communiqué. Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, 8 February 2012.
C4 Letter from Secretary to the Regional Committee on Prevention
C5 The Tanzania National Committee for Prevention of Genocide
Updates: 1 March-15 April 2012.
C6 Workshops Report: The Role of Religious Leaders in
Maintaining Sustainable Peace and Social Cohesion in Tanzania. Held
from 24 June to 6 July 2013 in Mbeya, Zanzibar and Mwanza, Tanzania.
C7 Letter from Chairperson of the Tanzania Committee for the
Prevention of Genocide, Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, dated 16
C8 Priority Projects For The ICGLR Kenya National Committee on the
Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities 2012—13, August 2012.
C9 Outcome Document: Office Of The Great Lakes Region (OGLR),
Kenya National Committee On Prevention and Punishment of the Crime Of
Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and All Forms of
Discrimination Sensitization. Workshop for the Provincial Security
Team and Community Leaders from Coast Province, 13—15 February 2013,