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Peace and Compromise, Idealism and Constraint: The Case of the Arusha Peace Accords in Rwanda and Burundi
Peace and stability have been core challenges in the Great Lakes Region of Africa since the years of independence from European nations. State building processes have been ridden by ongoing violence, characterized by two-sided or multi-party violence perpetrated by militias, national militaries, rogue groups, and even local civilians. The international system has prioritized peace accords and negotiation processes when parties in conflict decide to move past the violence, either required by external actors, or based on the instability of the situation on the ground. When warring parties and international actors sign peace accords to end conflict in an attempt to begin political dialogue, they often reinforce the international legal assumption that these negotiations will bring about positive change, including peace and stability. The cases of Rwanda and Burundi are complicated, with social, historical, political, ideological, and economic factors leading to violence on the ground. The Arusha Accords of 1993 in Rwanda and of 2000 in Burundi were followed only by short-term stability, with an eventual return to conflict. This study examines the effects of the Arusha Peace Accords signed prior to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and the Arusha Accords of 2000, which ended 12 years of civil war in Burundi. As shown in this paper and through our research, peace negotiations and peace processes take place in an unideal situation, yet in order for future peace to be achieved they must be attempted. The failure of Arusha in Rwanda and in Burundi show some of the complexities and challenges faced in these two case studies, and analyze why there was a return to violence in each case.