Our Congolese partner, Fondation Chirezi (FOCHI), has established a network of peace courts, or ‘barazas’, in war-torn eastern DR Congo. In 2014 we evaluated their impact, and found that lessons can be learned from this very cost effective and sustainable model, for other countries that suffer similar levels of violence.
The use of peace courts in peacebuilding is not new and can be found in some form in many peacebuilding projects around the world, but it is often difficult to show the scale of its impact. What our evaluation shows is that peace courts are an important entry point for the international community, creating ‘islands of peace’ from which other peacebuilding activities can develop.
In addition, FOCHI has developed an innovative approach to integrating women into the courts process. After first establishing a mixed-gender peace court supported by influential men, FOCHI then creates an all-female peace court to encourage women to bring cases of sexual and domestic violence. The impact has been significant, with over 50% of evaluation respondents citing female empowerment as a most significant change.
Also noteworthy is the speed with which the Barazas have influenced attitudinal and behavioural change in the community. In a country which has suffered – and continues to suffer – the most atrocious violence, undoing the culture of violence is a huge challenge, yet there are clear findings that this is being achieved.
At the heart of all of Peace Direct’s work lies the belief that local people should play a leading role in development and peacebuilding programmes. Peace Direct is currently leading on the Stopping As Success collaborative learning project which is looking at aid exits and transitions in support of locally-led development. Farzana Ahmed, Peace Direct’s Senior Researcher who is managing the project, reports on conversations she had with aid actors in the Philippines last month. Read more »
In light of the recent uptick in violence throughout the occupied territories; Peace Direct’s Scarlett Kassimatis and Oscar Lester examine the violent narrative surrounding the Great March of Return, which yesterday claimed the lives of 59 Palestinian civilians. Read more »