‘What is “the Local”? Exploring grassroots justice systems as a means of understanding the local’, by Cori Wielenga in Kujenga Amani.

GovInn’s Senior Researcher  Cori Wielenga published the article ‘What is “the Local”? Exploring grassroots justice systems as a means of understanding the local’ in Kujenga Amani.

Although a lot of lip-service is given to the concept of local ownership and agency in interventions related to peacebuilding and transitional justice, what is not always well understood is that the local is embedded in its own systems of norms and values that may differ significantly from those that provide the basis for international interventions and national reforms.


Read the full article here:

Book review ‘Creating the Third Force: Indigenous Processes of Peacemaking’, by Cori Wielenga.

GovInn’s Senior Researcher Cori Wielenga published the book review ‘Creating the Third Force: Indigenous Processes of Peacemaking‘, edited by Hamdesa Tuso and Maureen P Flaherty, in the South African Journal of International Affairs.

There is a growing awareness of the failure of the ‘global transitional justice project’1 and, more broadly, the ‘liberal peace’2 in post-conflict contexts in the global South. This failure has led to a renewed – or perhaps new – interest in indigenous approaches to peace and conflict resolution. Although this is not the framing that Hamdesa Tuso and Maureen Flaherty prioritise in Creating the Third Force, it is an important part of the context from which this edited volume emerges.

Rather than focusing on the transitional justice and liberal peacebuilding debate, the editors position this book within the emerging openness towards indigenous knowledge systems. They see the origins of this in the historical emergence of cultural relativism, an acceptance of a diversity of people holding legitimate belief systems outside of Christianity, and a growing interest in ‘traditional’ knowledge

Read the full review here :

Cori Wielenga at the ‘African perspectives on peacebuilding’ conference, 20-21 March in Abuja, Nigeria.

Dr Cori Wielenga, seated on the first seat on the left.

GovInn Senior Researcher, Cori Wielenga, participated in the fourth of the four-part series on ‘African perspectives on peacebuilding‘ series hosted by Wilton Park and supported by the African Leadership Centre, African Peacebuilding Network and Carnegie Corporation from 20-21 March in Abuja, Nigeria.

Previous events in this series have assessed the development of African approaches to peacebuilding in response to the changing dynamics of conflict, and the emergence of new conflict actors, on the continent. The conference drew upon the evolution of these global trends, addressing how they interact with and impact conflict dynamics and peacebuilding in Africa, its broader ramifications, and explore the options with regard to Africa’s vision and role – along with its international partners in shaping the future of global peacebuilding.

Resilient Peace

This network will engage with the challenges of building peace in West African states in the context of the withdrawal of Western actors and the promotion of resilience approaches in peacebuilding. The United Nations, regional and national development agencies have invested unprecedented amounts of funds in post-conflict peacebuilding in recent decades, most notably in Africa. Addressing the challenges of building a sustainable peace in West African states has been a focus of attention, including through the UN Peacebuilding Commission, with four of the six countries on its agenda being in West Africa (Guinea, Guinea- Bissau, Liberia and Sierra Leone). In recent years, we have also observed a new shift in international peacebuilding practices towards fostering resilience and capacity-building at the local level. This shift towards resilience can lead to increasing levels of pressure being faced by civil society actors. While some empirical studies have demonstrated that civil society actors have adapted to this new approach by transforming their activities in various ways, we still lack knowledge of how this resilience approach is adopted, adapted and/or resisted at the local level, particularly in the context of West Africa, and how it contributes to the broader goal of achieving sustainable peace. The overall goal of this network will be to organise a series of workshops focusing on the concept of resilience in peacebuilding in West Africa. The network will bring together WUN academics, including early career researchers and PhD students, NGO practitioners and policy-makers. This newly-formed network will actively seek out opportunities to undertake and apply further research in this area, especially through interactions with policy-makers and NGO practitioners and the development of future research grants.

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Policy Brief: ‘The end of the global transitional justice project: What future for justice in Africa?’ by Cori Wielenga and Chris Nshimbi

GovInn’s latest policy brief: ‘The end of the global transitional justice project: What future for justice in Africa?’ by Govinn’s Senior Researcher Cori Wielenga and Deputy Director Chris Nshimbi

This policy brief makes the case for the provision of more appropriate support to the mechanisms and forms of justice practiced in communities by people at the grassroots during periods of transition, instead of looking at how to integrate informal justice systems into the existing normative transitional justice framework

Read the full policy brief below.

9421 UP ISPA Policy Brief HR

Cori Wielenga at Building Bridges in a Complex World conference, 06-08.07.2017

Govinn researcher, Cori Wielenga, had the opportunity to present her work at the Building Bridges in a Complex World conference was very innovative in its approach and the way in which it was framed. It challenged mainstream academia both in terms of substance and process. As stated in their framing documents, academic events tend to stress certain hierarchies and power relations that turn academic discourse into ‘pretentious competitive performances’. Instead, this conference was set up to create safe spaces for genuine dialogue and the creative exploring of ideas together.  A thread running through the conference was that the ‘neoliberal’ paradigm has affected both our teaching and research such that we have reduced these to products that need to be churned out and consumed. Conversations centred around how we can revive a research and teaching culture of inquiry and critical open-mindedness.

The research Cori Wielenga presented at the conference was on rethinking justice through listening to communities. It drew on fieldwork undertaken in Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Burundi and emphasised the centrality of engaging with the lived experiences of communities on their own terms in order to understand what justice means in these contexts, and how justice is practiced in these contexts, in the absence of the state, or alongside existing state institutions which are often alienating and ineffective. The discussion emerging from the paper revealed a shared interest in undertaking research in a way that reflects a sensitivity to the context and allows findings to emerge that might challenge preconceived ideas and theories.

The recommendations the paper made included exploring ways in which policy might be developed from below. What would policies look like that were developed by communities, and reflected their lived experiences?

‘A comparison of the reconciliation barometers in South Africa and Rwanda’, New book chapter by Cori Wielenga

GovInn’s Senior Researcher Cori Wielenga published the book chapter ‘A comparison of the reconciliation barometers in South Africa and Rwanda’ in the book ‘Rethinking reconciliation: Evidence from South Africa‘ by HSRC Press.

Processes of reconciliation, transitional justice and healing are high on the global agenda, yet questions of how to measure their effectiveness remain a challenge. The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), based in Cape Town, South Africa, has developed a survey that measures public opinion on reconciliation in that country. The South African Reconciliation Barometer (SARB) has been implemented annually between 2003 and 2014, and measures perceptions about progress in reconciliation in South Africa over time. In 2010, a reconciliation barometer was developed and implemented in Rwanda as well.
The indicators used between the two barometers differ for each context, and therefore their findings cannot be directly compared. Instead, this chapter explores the different contexts to better understand how and why the RRB was adapted for the Rwandan context, and what the surveys say about reconciliation in each case. This exploration contributes to the debate on whether or not reconciliation can be measured and how reconciliation barometers can enhance our understanding of national reconciliation processes.

Have a look at the book here:

‘Rwanda & South Africa: a long road from truth to reconciliation’ by Cori Wielenga, The Conversation, 06.04.2017

GovInn’s Senior Researcher Cori Wielenga published the article ‘Rwanda & South Africa: a long road from truth to reconciliation‘ in The Conversation.

Rwanda took a different path. It focused on establishing individual perpetrators’ accountability for genocide crimes. Many were unsettled by this rigorous quest. There were calls for Rwanda to mimic South Africa and take the route of amnesty in exchange for truth. That would have assumed the wounds of the violent massacre of possibly a million people in three months were identical to the wounds of apartheid. I don’t want to suggest for a moment that wounds left by Rwanda’s genocide were harder to heal than those left by apartheid. But it’s critical to understand that they left behind different kinds of devastations.

Read the full article here:


Debate on migration

Govinn hosts critical workshop on migration

Govinn, together with the American Political Science Association hosted a workshop on the critical issue of migration in Africa from 23-27 May, 2016, at the University of Pretoria. The workshop included in-depth dialogue sessions between academics from a diversity of disciplines, universities, countries and continents, as well as a public seminar which brought together scholars and policymakers.

Prof Loren Landau, director of the African Centre for Migration and Society, Prof Francis Nyamnjoh, from the University of Cape Town and Dr Chris Nshimbi from Govinn were some of the prominent speakers in the field that shared cutting edge information on migration in Africa today.

Questions of inclusion, exclusion, identity, policy and the free movement of people across borders was discussed and debated, with a particular focus on bringing together the micro and macro levels, allowing people’s experiences on the ground to speak to migration policy.

This workshop was sponsored by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation and the American Political Science Association.

ICT and Human Rights in Africa

ICTs and Human Rights in Africa

Authored by Rebeka Gluhbegovic, Ella Abatan, Anita Acon, Toyin Ajao, Negar Fayazi, Mellissa Mlambo, Ruth Murambadoro, Jenna Town and Cori Wielenga


African countries are are extremely diverse in many respects, such as their levels of development, freedoms, government structures, but also in terms of their human rights situations. Whilst some countries are stable and enjoy relatively good human rights records, others have more problematic human rights predicament. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the state security forces and militias terrorise communities. In Sierra Leone, mining companies, in complicity with the government, have forcibly relocated families and hampered their access to food. In Zimbabwe, freedom of expression is seriously curtailed. In Egypt police brutality against Egyptians is endemic. Perpetrators range from governments, the military, paramilitaries, militias, terrorist groups and corporations.


Read further at: ICTs and Human Rights in Africa