Rafto Prize laureate plans to establish a peace center in DR Congo
In devastating circumstances, Rafto Prize laureate Bulambo Lembelembe Josué is fighting for peace through conflict resolution and education. His newest commitment towards peace in the region is establishment of a peace center situated in Goma, in north Kivu province in eastern DR Congo.
Tuesday, 17 July 2012, by HRH Bergen, based on Rafto foundation information
Bulambo Lembelembe Josué was awarded the Rafto Prize in 2008 for his commitment to the establishment of peace and generating hope for the population in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Since then, his engagement has grown and he is constantly looking for ways to improve the situation in the region.
Following example of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights
Bulambo believes there is a need to build a peace center based on the principles of the Norwegian Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, in DR Congo. Through research into the resurgence of violence in the region, Bulambo hopes to find a viable peaceful solution to the region’s violent past. Bulambo says it is the people of DR Congo who will benefit the most from the actions of the peace center and that dialogue and willingness to get involved without hypocrisy could help find a solution that will reduce the cycle of violence and promote peace.
Bulambo believes that such a center will not only help the eastern part of DR Congo, but the Great Lakes region as a whole. “The center will bring together experts, various peoples and political figures in the countries concerned and help them pull in the same direction for the welfare of their peoples and to analyse the root causes of their misery, and to implement concrete actions to consolidate peace”, he explains.
The establishment of the peace center is still in the early developmental stages, but research and investigation into the options will start as early as January 2013. Bulambo explains that the process of actually building and equipping the center will start as soon as the necessary funding has been secured. “We will avoid using government institutions of the Great Lakes region to research funding”, says Bulambo. “This is to avoid the politicization of the peace center by the political system”. Funding is needed to make the peace center a reality, so both large and small contributions will help Bulambo achieve his goal of setting up a peace center where conflicts and issues can be resolved and hopefully lead to understanding. In the long term this will lead to a peaceful and stable eastern DR Congo.
DR Congo’s hypothetical peace
Five million people have lost their lives in the armed conflict in DR Congo, sometimes called the most deadly war since World War II. Although the conflict officially ended in 2003, the eastern part of the country is still tarnished by militia and army violence. The eastern part of DR Congo has for years been destabilized by regional turmoil from neighbouring countries Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. The central authorities have encountered difficulties in controlling the eastern region.
“Peace is hypothetical in DR Congo”, Bulambo says. However, this is a situation he is determined to change. Senior Researcher at the Centre for Intercultural Communication, Kåre Lode, believes that trust is vital for the peace center to be a success. He believes Bulambo has, through years of commitment, gained this local trust. “An arena that educates and teaches conflict resolution locally could help arbitrate peace and stability on other levels in society”, Lode adds.
Background: Bulambo - Rafto Prize laureate 2008
Bulambo was awarded the Rafto Prize for Human Rights in 2008 for his dedicated struggle to end the plight of the people of DR Congo. Long-time friend of Bulambo, Tor Magne Kommedal, believes a peace center could be beneficial for the region by gathering and concentrating expertise, as well as providing education and gaining new contacts and impulses.
“I also believe Bulambo’s organization’s local anchoring in the Bukavu region could be improved by the presence of a specific center from where they are based”, says Kommedal. The peace center, named the Regional Center for the Promotion of Peace and Reconciliation in the African Great Lakes Region (CRPR/GL), is estimated to cost USD 1,500,000, but as Bulambo points out, it will be self-financing after two years. “The sale of publications and training courses will generate an income, as will other cultural activities”, he adds.
HRH Bergen, based on Rafto foundation information