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National Infrastructure & Architecture for

Peacebuilding and Peacemaking:

The Case of Burundi


by Dr. Rutagengwa Claude Shema

Regional Coordinator

Great Lakes Peace Initiative (GLPI)


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I. Overview

The conflict in any kind of community, society, nation and region is basically based on unsolved problem, which lies also on unfulfilled basic needs of individuals, communities, tribes/ethnic groups and or regional discrimination. Nevertheless, as long as conflict is perceived and conventionally seen as part of our daily life (natural-normal-neutral), we as human beings need to minimize as much as possible its impact on us and on the rest of biodiversity.

In other word, since we can’t avoid conflict to happen in all because it is often unpredictable, the best way to deal with it is to avoid any serious impact when is already born.

“Conflict is a dynamic and constantly evolving force, with lots of factors intersecting and influencing one another, including: the need for resources such as water, food and shelter as well as local and international politics, employment, geographic boundaries, migration, history, economics, disease, education and cultural differences…”


According to Pr.Johan Galtung: ”Every act of violence is a monument of human inadequacy”




In the similar case of Burundi (one of the countries of so called the Great lakes region of Africa where ethnic conflict has ravaged the country), it would be wise and so fundamental to build a national infrastructure for peacebuilding and peacemaking, based on traditional and modern justice and reconciliation for immediate solution, with emphasis on sustainable/durable peace and development plus equal rights for a better future of Burundi and Barundi (citizens of Burundi).

In any country, during the political based violent conflict or in the aftermath of violent conflict, the  urgent political issue to tackle is :Equal Power sharing among parties. For the case of Burundi, it is important to think about sharing power among three ethnic groups as stipulated   in  different peace accords agreed up on by parties(Dar Es Salam, Arousha, etc…: TWA/HUTU/TUTSI.


II. Justice


In the aftermath of cruel conflict of Burundi, it would be an aberration to talk about peace and reconciliation without restorative justice. It has been reported that series of serious human rights violations committed by different groups of people in this country (Hutus against Tutsis,Tutsis against Hutus, or both against Twa, and some cases of Twa against Tutsis or against  Hutus)

II-i. Ubushingantahe concept

Expected input: linking the old culture to the actual context.

In doing so, it is also important to look back into culture, to get some good experience related to the similar situation. That means that we can find some solutions towards national infrastructures through the old culture of the country like the “Ubushingantahe”- traditional disputes solving mechanism. This mechanism was very similar to the Rwandan Gacaca traditional disputes solving mechanism as well.

Led by people of integrity-called “Abashingantahe” , this mechanism was very active and important to citizens because it had three major seeds of peace like:


  1. justice(gukubitwa intahe mu gahanga/to punish the convict upon the crime done)
  2. Transparency
  3. Equity
  4. Reconciliation.

II-ii. Formal & informal reconciliation towards sustainable peace


Traditional formal/informal reconciliation is needed in this country, in order to breach the circle of revenge and vengeance. And this mechanism also is welcomed by many of people in the country.


III. Long term peace strategies 

In the future, some effective mechanisms for peacebuilding and peacemaking should be launched such as formal peace education, civil peace brigades units on different levels, good governance, equality, respect of human rights, etc.., but the key of success would be to focus on the basic needs of people, with a special attention to vulnerable groups.


IV. Peacebuilding & peacemaking infrastructures

One of the major pillars of sustainable peace should be based on effective peacebuilding and peacemaking infrastructures. Therefore, in this context of Burundi, it would be more advisable to mention few (see table below), to give a chance to Burundians to elaborate the rest by themselves, and this participative concept also can help them to know more about peace value, and to protect it.


 Table of basic peacebuilding & peacemaking infrastructures



Peacemaking mechanism


Executive entity/Concern

Sensitive level


Equally political power sharing

Implement and ensure equality power sharing in accordance to the peace and political agreements.

Political parties framework/


Ad hoc

Formally politically

Truth and reconciliation commission.

Sustain peaceful  co-existence among Barundi(Burundian people)

Neutral commission with involvement of different stakeholders

Ad hoc

+Provincial and community levels

This long term commission would lead to the sustainable reconciliation and peace to the Barundi people.

Peace education(Tolerance, nonviolence) framework.



 informal peace Education

Ministries of education,  youth,labor,gender,

well-being, and other stakeholders like religious, NGOs-Civil society.

From grassroots upward, and in all formal & informal education.


Well-being watchdog

Sustainability of a fair administration system on benefits of citizens, and care for the needs of Barundi.

An elite of incorruptible people of integrity(*)

Especially local administration on grassroots levels

(*) Honest and fair people/Commission who can gain also populace trust and fulfill their tasks effectively the key issue of conflict among citizens on the different levels especially on grassroots levels

Human rights entity

Sustain human rights matters.

A neutral, and effective national and decentralized entity

All levels

This entity should be  active and operational in different activities such as human rights abuse investigations and reporting, formal and informal training on human rights and other relating issues.

Civil peace watch  brigade

Peace watch entity

Peace experts unit.

All levels

Peacebuilding & peacemaking strategies.