Rationale: Psychosocial reconciliation for groups and individuals is a critical priority for achieving conflict resolution, prevention, and peace-building in rural communities that have experienced intense conflict from the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda (NURC, 2018a,b,c,d,e,f). Yet, strategies to foster authentic interpersonal reconciliation are extremely scarce in Rwanda.  Seminal work has been undertaken by Drs. Staub and Perlman, employing a theory-driven approach to promote healing, unity, and reconciliation in Rwanda (Staub, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008; Staub & Bar-Tal, 2003; Staub & Pearlman, 2006, 2009; Staub, Pearlman, & Miller, 2003; Staub, Pearlman, Gubin, & Hagengimana, 2005; Staub, Pearlman, Weiss, & Hoek, 2007; Staub, & Vollhardt, 2008). However, these studies have yet to answer key questions about the nature and processes of interpersonal reconciliation as experienced by the very people (survivors and perpetrators) who have lived through efforts at intra/interpersonal reconciliation in Rwanda. One key question, in light of reconciliation efforts to date, is how do lived experiences of reconciliation efforts differ from the processes of theory-driven models of reconciliation? The project expands early stage research undertaken in Rwanda to develop, implement and evaluate an interpersonal/psychosocial reconciliation intervention, the Action-Based Psychosocial Reconciliation Approach(ABPRA),based on Rwandan people’s lived experience of reconciliation to support interpersonal/psychosocial recovery and growth in rural villages of Rwanda. ABPRA as an approach to fostering attitudinal change and interpersonal reconciliation between conflicting parties was developed and founded on both action-based therapeutic principles of Japanese Morita therapy and western-based contact theory.

Objectives:The specific objectives are to

  1. develop and empirically validate a set of measures containing five sub-scales, termed thepsychosocial reconciliation impact scales module(PRISM) to assess the beneficial impacts of ABPRA; and
  2. to field test the delivery of ABPRA in Rwanda, and assess the acceptability and feasibility of the intervention and the psychosocial reconciliation achieved using the PRISM; this will include training 15 survivors and perpetrators as psychosocial reconciliators.

The ultimate goal of this project is to prepare for a larger-scale multi-village cluster randomized controlled trial of ABPRA to develop an evidence-based interpersonal/psychosocial reconciliation approach for the adoption in post-war/conflict contexts around the globe.  Methodologically, this work will be guided by exemplary frameworks for developing complex evidence-based interventions developed by the UK Medical Research Council.

 

Significance: The work will contribute new insights and research tools to advance research in post-war and conflict studies, conflict resolution, interpersonal and psychosocial reconciliation process and outcomes and restorative justice and reparation approaches. The work offers the possibility of contributing to scientifically validated and meaningful approaches for reconciliation, conflict resolution, prevention and peace building within Canada and globally. This work is particularly timely and relevant in light of the recommendations from the Government of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Project partners:

Prison Fellowship Rwanda & Rwanda National Unity and Reconciliation Commission

Project funded by: