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PSRP Researcher Presenting: Negotiating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Burundi

July 7, 2016 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

PSRP researcher Astrid Jamar will present her work on ‘Messing around behind closed doors: Negotiating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Burundi’ at the Political Settlements in Africa workshop at the University of Birmingham. The workshop on 7th July 2016 is hosted by the¬†Development Leadership Programme, at the University of Birmingham, and the BISA Africa and International Studies working group. Astrid is speaking as part of Session Two: International Actors in Political Settlements.

The event is free to attend, but registration is required (by email to Suda Perera S.M.Perera@bham.ac.uk)

Event invitation [PDF]


Abstract: Messing around behind closed doors: Negotiating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Burundi

For more than a decade, numerous actors (western donors, UN, local and international NGOs and Burundian institutions) engaged in negotiation on the TRC law while pretending to respect international standards and local needs in terms of transitional justice. While the debate has been presented in technocratic terms in the public sphere, my presentation highlights the messy politics framing the process. The presentation will address the different pressures and positions of aid-dependent actors involved in the discussions of the TRC law in Burundi.

The Burundian authorities kept the TJ agenda as far away as they could from discussions (e.g. by appointing irregular representatives close to the president and by maintaining a discourse that supported the agreed agenda while not acting on it). All donors hold the same discourse, which aligns with the UN. At the same time, they all acknowledged that the UN had limited capacities to influence Burundian institutional actors. Donors simultaneously supported various local and international NGOs. On several occasion, these NGOS undermined the process by refusing to negotiate with authorities. By the end, a TRC law with limited support was adopted in 2014.  The TRC is currently being implemented while Burundi has relapsed into conflict. On the basis of ethnographic fieldwork material, I will present three vignettes that question what happened while the TRC was not being implemented. Overall, my presentation will address these three questions: (1) How power dynamics framed the TJ process? (2) How donors/international actors took part in shaping political settlements? (3) How the existing power relations were reproduced/challenged through the TJ process?

In conclusion, I will highlight multi-layered and constantly evolving micro-politics at play, as well as methodological implications for researching political settlements in Africa.


Photo credit: Astrid Jamar


July 7, 2016
9:00 am - 5:00 pm
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Development Leadership Programme
BISA Africa and International Studies working group


University of Birmingham
Birmingham, United Kingdom + Google Map