On March 22 and 23, 2016, the Director of AIPR’s Africa Programs, Dr. Ashad Sentongo, participated in a workshop in Kampala, Uganda entitled, “The Role of Atrocity Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect in Development Cooperation”. Focusing on the links between atrocity prevention and development, the event, was organized by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), with the support of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect (ICRtoP).
The two-day program brought together government officials, experts in development and fundraising, as well as civil society representatives from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Sudan, among others. Based on the notion that successful and sustainable development can significantly lower the risk of mass atrocities in any country, the workshop focused on methods for translating the international security and human rights norm of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) into concrete operational approaches to development.
Designed with interactivity in mind, the event featured panel discussions, presentations, and group work components that took advantage of participants’ experience in a variety of national settings. The panel discussions, in particular, highlighted lessons learned in regard to civil society and donor engagement for cooperating on atrocity prevention and development. For example, topics discussed include: what donors can do better with regard to atrocity prevention, steps for addressing existing gaps, and the roles that development actors can play in support of National Committees for Genocide Prevention in the Great Lakes Region.
Dr. Sentongo participated in a panel discussion entitled “Atrocity Prevention and Development Cooperation: Sharing Experiences”. His contribution emphasized the fact that current approaches to development aid are often too structural and may miss responding to relational dimensions of conflicts, many of which account for the history of violence, mass atrocities, and genocide in the region. He asserted that, worse still, project-based and program-based approaches to development aid cannot produce sustained interventions that transform the underlying drivers of conflict in the Great Lakes Region. Thus, Dr. Sentongo recommended that the architecture of development aid in the region be reimagined in ways that integrate the protection of populations and the prevention of mass atrocities into future approaches. Finally, Dr. Sentongo also shed light on the need to localize development aid and to work toward the continued integration of preventive mechanisms into structures of national and regional governance.