Co-operatives and Reconciliation after Violent Conflicts: Lessons from Post-Genocide Rwanda

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Abstract

In general, the literature on co-operatives as agents of socio-economic change has burgeoned. However, the potential for co-operatives to serve as agents of societal change specifically within ethnic or identity-based conflicts has received little attention. This paper aims to address this gap by considering the case of Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide by qualitatively discussing how a co-operative form of organization has the potential to reconcile the divides between Genocide survivors and Genocide perpetrators, as well as their respective family members. Findings indicate that the co-operative, by virtue of its values and the principles that bind members, is a connector that offers a favourable space for positive contact between conflicting parties. The co-operative work takes place within a rehumanizing environment of reciprocal empathetic communication among members, which restores their relationships. In particular, the co-operative provides a space for private and intimate relationships among members without the intervention of a third party. The paper concludes that to promote reconciliation between those experiencing division, public strategies and involvement of a mediator can be supplemented by mechanisms that facilitate private co-operative contact between parties to the conflict.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)46-62
Number of pages17
JournalReview of International Cooperation
Volume105/2019
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2020

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