Regional conference on Peace Building in the Great Lakes Region

This conference was organized by Sub-Saharan Africa University (SSAU) in North-Kivu (Goma) the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in collaboration with Durban University of Technology (DUT) Peace Building Programme, and International Centre of Nonviolence in Durban, South Africa.

The theme of the conference centered around Peace Building in the Great Lakes Region. The conference brought together one hundred people from, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. Participants were from different sectors including Academics, policy makers, civil society (Faith based community), local and International Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local and International Media and community based organizations.

The aims of the conference were: To make the concepts of conflict transformation and peacebuilding better understood and accepted, and to encourage their application to current Great Lakes issues; To establish or strengthen networks between different universities and colleges which currently teach in the area of peacebuilding or which may do so in the future.

To establish or strengthen linkages with non-university bodies (government, NGOs, faith communities) so as to promote the principles and practice of peacebuilding.

The conference was followed by visits and intense interactions with faith based communities in Goma with particular focus to the role played and that can be played by faith based communities in Promoting Peace and the culture of nonviolence.

Dr Rukema, strongly believes that the role of Universities is not only of teaching and conducting research, but is how what is taught and the result from research can be used as tools in transforming the socio-economic and political conditions of our people. This means how do we convert our challenges into opportunities through teaching and research. The role of institutions of education is to transform society through teaching, research and bringing innovative ideas to solve problems that affect humanity including all forms of conflicts.

Education gives us all human values that distinguish us from other natural species. These values include the capacity to prevent conflict, manage it whenever it occurs and peacebuilding where violence and injustice are the order of the day.

While institutions of learning play a creator role in shaping and reshaping our societies through teaching and research, they however need to create partnership with different existing institutions such as Faith based communities, civil society, NGOs and Government institutions if sustainable development has to be achieved. This means that development is a collective process and cannot be achieved if left to one sector of the society. Peace building being the cornerstone of development, it cannot be left to one sector of the society. It is in this framework this conference was organized where Academics, Policy Makers, Faith Based communities, NGOs, Media and larger communities came together and reflected collectively on issues of Peace Building in the Great Lakes Region.

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