OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution

Issue 2.3 | August 1999

ISSN 1522-211X


Rwanda's Protracted Social Conflict: Considering the Subjective Perspective in Conflict Resolution Strategies

By Steve Utterwulghe


It is widely believed that, as Rwanda's protracted social conflict culminated in genocide in 1994 and a new government replacing an old authoritarian regime, this so called ethnic conflict is resolved.

We argue that after 5 years, even if settled, conflict in Rwanda is still latent (i.e., that the underlying causes remain and, therefore, conflict is unresolved.)

This paper will address the questions as to why conflict in Rwanda is protracted and why the subjective perspective should be considered in constructive conflict resolution strategies? I propose to develop the argument that Rwanda's conflict is protracted because it has multiple and complex underlying causes at work, some of which are ill-defined. I will endeavour to demonstrate that these causes are not only structural (e.g., poverty, overpopulation, land pressure) but also psycho-cultural (e.g., related to identity, 'false consciousness,' irrational myths, mistrust, and fear). That constitutes, I believe, an interesting challenge in the sense that this approach runs counter to the common thinking that tends to assert that the causal factors for the outburst of violence in Rwanda was primarily, if not exclusively, structural/material. Therefore, it is my contention that for this conflict to be genuinely resolved, both kind of causes must be identified and then fully considered in conflict resolution strategies. This view, again, is contrary to the 'realist' orthodoxy of the international relations discipline which rules out the individual as unit of analysis.

In the first section, I present and develop my theoretical framework. The main theoretical concepts that are applied in this paper derive principally from general conflict theory. However, for the purpose of the argument, concepts from more specific theories will be examined and employed: ethnic conflict theory is broadly analysed. Structural conflict theory is the main focus of the first part and psycho-cultural conflict theory of the second part. Although this section is obviously somewhat theoretical, my general argument is laid-out and elaborated.

Section two involves a case study of Rwanda. An attempt is made to apply the theoretical concepts previously examined. An explanation is offered as to the reason why structural factors alone could not have brought about the genocide, but that it was the result of their interplay with psycho-cultural factors that triggered the tragic events of 1994.

The paper ultimately concludes with the argument that, for a lasting peace in Rwanda to be more than just a dream, it will be necessary to apply a multilateral approach to conflict resolution by taking into consideration both the subjective and structural elements in play.

Theoretical Framework

The main theoretical concepts used in the development of my argument derive from the general theory of conflict, but also from infra-theories encompassed in it, such as structural and psycho-cultural theories. Ethnic conflict theory is also employed.

Scholars of conflict theory have written extensively about the sources of conflict, but have usually, according to their respective discipline, merely looked at and emphasised only one specific source as the real explanation of the cause of conflict while sometimes undermining or diminishing the importance of others.(1)

Since more and more conflicts in the developing world are protracted and ethnic in nature, rather than purely strategic, attention has been drawn recently by some theorists like Edward Azar, to the fact that in order to manage and hopefully resolve these kinds of conflicts, a comprehensive approach that identifies and tackles their multiple causal factors is necessary.

Azar used the term protracted social conflict "to suggest the type of on-going and seemingly unresolvable conflict."(2) In a similar way, Stephen Ryan defined protracted conflicts as "usually conflicts between ethnic groups which have been going on for some time, and which may appear to be unresolvable to the parties caught up in them."(3) Protracted social conflicts have typical preconditions that play important roles in shaping their genesis and account for their prolonged nature. The tendency has been for these conflicts to arise in societies characterised by multicommunal compositions.(4) They flourish in environments of high politico-economic underdevelopment and manifest themselves over communal identity needs. "The roots of protracted social conflict are to be found at the interlocking nexus of underdevelopment, structural deprivation (political, economic, and psychological) and communal or identity cleavages."(5) Moreover, it is assumed that 'structural victimisation' (i.e., social, political, and economic inequalities as well as psychological oppression) usually takes the form of ethnic discrimination in these kinds of societies. In fact, 'structural victimisation' is perceived to affect some groups disproportionately or to benefit others. Azar argues that, "It is at this juncture of actual physical and psychological deprivation that structural victimisation bursts into hostile and violent actions."(6)

This brief survey of the theoretical concept as presented by Azar, although interesting and useful, is nevertheless somewhat confusing. Therefore, in order to develop my argument, originally based on the previous general concept and to provide for the reader a precise conceptual roadmap for my analysis of the Rwandan case, theoretical clarification is required. An attempt will be made to develop an argument through an in depth exposition of two major infra-theories, namely structural conflict theory and psycho-cultural or socio-psychological conflict theory, which are direct off-shoots of protracted social conflict theory.

Limiting the argument to these two theories does not imply the application of a reductionist approach, on the contrary these theories encompass different issues related to the emergence and evolution of protracted ethnic conflict which allows for greater understanding of the issues in question.

Part of my whole argument is that different factors are responsible for the emergence and development of protracted social conflict, Rwanda in particular. These factors - economic, political, institutional, cultural, geographic, demographic, psychological, military, colonial, etc. - can be broken down into two main categories, despite the eclecticism of the terminology found in the literature, as structural ('objective' conflict) and psycho-cultural ('subjective' conflict).(7) Structural conflict is essentially defined as "an outcome of incompatible interests based on competition for scarce resources; it is objective because it is defined as largely independent of the perceptions of participants and emanates from power structures and institutions ( . . . )."(8) On the other hand, psycho-cultural conflict theory defines conflict in terms of psychological and cultural forces that frame the beliefs about the self, others, and behaviour.

Psycho-cultural or perceptual or subjective explanation of protracted social conflict does not exclude other explanation, like structural explanation, however it may be argued that ethnic conflict as seen in Rwanda can only be understood, and ultimately resolved (see Section 3), by addressing psychological elements. As Donald Horowitz maintains "The sources of ethnic conflict are not to be found solely in the psychology of group juxtaposition, but they cannot be understood without a psychology, an explanation that takes account of emotional concomitants of group traits and interactions."(9)

Prior to the presentation of an in depth case study of Rwanda's conflict, it is important to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of structural and psycho-cultural conflict theories.

Structural Conflict Theory

Structural and psycho-cultural conflict theories identify and analyse very different sources of conflict. Structural theory, as briefly mentioned earlier, emphasises the competing interests of groups as prime motivations of conflict. In other words, it identifies the primary sources of conflict in the social, economic, and political organisation of society and in the nature and strength of ties within and between communities. In concrete terms, Marc Ross explains that if economic and political discrimination and weak ties of kinship exist in a society, the chance of conflict between groups will be higher.(10)

Some objectivist conflict researchers tend to have a somewhat more reductionist view of what contributes to the emergence and prolongation of severe protracted conflicts. Neo-Marxist structuralists, for instance, view 'structural victimisation,' as defined by Azar, essentially in the form of economic deprivation of individuals or groups, producing eventually chronic poverty and overt conflict. Some structuralists have also attacked any subjective approach as being one "which has led to a concentration on unreal elements in situations of social conflict (those defined by the participants) . . ."(11)

The structural approach, taken as a whole, presents a broader range of underlying factors which may be the cause of a break out in internal conflict. Economic and social factors are obviously determinant, but others, such as political and institutional factors (state structure, discriminatory political institutions, inter-group politics, elite politics, etc.), security factors (intra-state security concerns, security dilemma, regional military environment, refugee problems, etc.), and ethnic factors (geography, demography, physical geography, etc.) are also important.

The argument thus far has been that it is irrefutable that individuals, and in my case ethnic groups, do enter into hostile interactions about real interests. Problems of overpopulation, resource scarcity, economic underdevelopment in general, and unintegrated social and political systems, among other factors, do matter in the emergence of internal conflict. But I would like to move forward in my argument by assuming that in serious conflicts, as with ethnic conflicts, material interests are not sufficient to explain the severity, ferocity, and protracted nature of such conflicts. I would argue that conflicts about real interests take place under certain psychological dispositions and in certain psycho-cultural contexts which serve to influence substantially the intensity and duration of conflict and ultimately determine the outcome. As Ross explains, "Although the identification of structural factors in severe conflict is rarely wrong, explanations for conflict based on these considerations alone are often incomplete and therefore misleading." He goes on to add that "people do fight about real interests, but the way this is done, the intensity of feelings, and the lengths to which disputants go to defend or acquire what they believe is their due are evidence that pursuit of interests has an important psychological component which is not well understood."(12)

In this respect, structural conflict theory has its limitations. Structural features may be critical in determining the targets of hostile action, psycho-cultural dispositions more relevant in explaining the intensity (e.g., ethnic cleansing, genocide) and the duration (e.g., protracted) of conflict. Structural factors often constitute the catalytic elements or, in Brown's words, the 'proximate causes' that transform latent conflict into manifest or overt conflict. In concrete terms, features like political transition, imminent military threat, or mounting economic problems are some of the factors that can act as a trigger. In serious ethnic conflict situations, however, these tend to occur in a predisposed psycho-cultural environment that I propose to analyse now.

Before looking closely at psycho-cultural conflict theory, let us summarise the main ideas that have been developed. Structural and psycho-cultural conflict theories in identifying and defining the causes of protracted ethnic conflict differ. I argued that the role of competition for real interest is a crucial element in the explanation of conflict. As Azar stated, "It is the denial of human needs that finally emerges as the source of conflict . . ."(13) These human needs are usually defined in the literature as needs for effective participation in political, market, and decision-making institutions; physical security; nutrition; housing; etc. However, I also argued that structural factors, though playing a critical role in the break out of conflict, do not explain the intensity and, in certain cases, the protracted nature of severe ethnic conflict, features which contribute to their apparent intractability and which ultimately will influence substantially the way to manage and resolve such conflict. I expect that something else is involved and I argue that psycho-cultural theory can help us in my understanding of protracted social conflict. This view is confirmed by Morton Deutsch who said, "Any comprehensive approach to understanding conflict will necessarily include consideration of both objective and subjective factors."(14) 

Psycho-cultural Conflict Theory

Since the subjective explanation of protracted violent ethnic conflict is at the core of my topic and argumentation, psycho-cultural conflict theory will be more thoroughly examined.

Psycho-cultural conflict theory, in Ross's words, "Emphasises the role of culturally shared, profound 'we-they' oppositions, the conceptualisation of enemies and allies, and deep-seated dispositions about human action stemming from earliest development."(15)

I propose to address the psychological processes by which these psycho-cultural dispositions are acquired and to see what accounts for their shared and socially constructed character.

At the beginning of this section, it has been shown that protracted social conflicts are usually ethnic in nature, which does not imply that the mere existence of ethnicity results in conflict. This, it was assumed, results from the fact that protracted social conflicts often take place within societies characterised by a multicommunal composition and in which discrimination is targeted toward one specific ethnic group. In short, the assumption has been that protracted social conflicts occur when communities are discriminated against or deprived of satisfaction of their basic human needs on the basis of their communal identity. One of these human needs, amid the need for physical security, nutrition, political and economic participation, etc., is the recognition and protection of identity.(16)

Special attention needs to be paid to identity in order to understand the importance of its role in the escalation, duration, and intensity of conflict as the role of identity is crucial in the evolution of psychological processes that will ultimately create the psycho-cultural dispositions that cause ethnic groups to enter into violent interactions. Insight may also be received into ways in which protracted, and seemingly intractable, conflicts may be resolved (Section 3).

As Elisabeth Crighton put it, "Protracted conflicts are 'identity-driven,' the result of an underlying 'fear of extinction' (Horowitz) that grows out of the experience of being a vulnerable ethnic group living with memories of persecution and massacre."(17)

Horowitz talks about the 'fear of extinction,' Volkan about the 'fear of dying off,' Rothschild about the 'fear of the future,' all these fears however seem to have the same underlying element, the fear of the threat of a loss of identity. This threat, real or perceived, emanates from a history of humiliation, oppression, victimhood, feeling of inferiority, persecution of one's group, and other kinds of discrimination. And this complete loss of dignity and self-respect is a constitutive element of what Rothschild calls the 'pathological dimension of ethnicity.'(18)

Jeanne Knutson, a political psychologist, has developed a conception of the psychology of victimhood. She understood from it that human needs for identity as well as for affection, self-esteem, and esteem of others are components of a sense of safety and security humans require for normal development.(19) Hence, in order to protect their identity, individuals and groups will behave in a distorted and possibly violent way. This feeling of victimhood and threat of losing identity is based on real, but also mythologised facts, as well as memories of hurts and psychological wounds. History thus plays a crucial role. Historical experiences, the 'past,' shape the beliefs of one group over the intentions of another. In other words, "Actors form beliefs subjectively, largely on the basis of past interactions."(20)

This 'past,' on which beliefs and behaviour of groups are based, is either mythologised or real. Myths or mythico-histories often, but not always, refer to a distant, pre-colonial past and present the origins of different groups, the nature of their relationships, and their place in the social structure. These histories are usually distorted, exaggerated over time, and usually portray one's group as heroic and superior while disparaging the other. Irrational myths can also be created from a more recent past, the colonial past.

In such instances, facts are real, but they will also be mythologised, distorted, and reinvented in a way that best suits the interests of such groups. It can be assumed that colonialism has played a dramatic role in the formation of ethnic group psychology and subsequent (hostile) behaviour, although Mohammed Rabie's assertion that, "The primary causes of all types of contemporary ethnic conflicts are rooted in the colonial era"(21) should only be adhered to in part. In some cases, it can be argued that ethnic differences and hostilities existed in pre-colonial times and that other contemporary (i.e., post-colonial) objective factors (pattern of linkage with international economy, dependence or autonomy, nature of the political-military environment, etc.) also contribute to ethnic problems or violence. However, I also believe that colonial powers, in their search for political control, economic exploitation, and cultural domination, strengthened and further polarised group differences, creating real feelings of victimhood, new mythico-histories, and eventually strong ideologies.

Horowitz has shown that there is a direct link between colonial evaluations of imputed group character, the distribution of group worth, and the readiness for a group to initiate ethnic violence or to use the political system to change the situation.(22) Evaluation, by foreign rule, of ethnic groups based on presumed 'racial superiority' and differences in levels of 'civilisation' contributes to a certain humiliation and feeling of weakness of 'backward' groups. As the feelings of 'backwardness,' inferiority, and helplessness are profoundly unsettling group feelings, it will induce the group to react by initiating violence or using the political system to transform the situation.(23) So, "to appreciate the full impact of group juxtapositions on ethnic conflict, it is necessary to understand the relations of the respective groups to the colonial powers as it is to grasp their relations to each other."(24)

In short, the 'past,' be it pre-colonial or colonial, mythologised or based on real experiences, often refers to a history of inequality, discrimination, persecution, and, in the extreme, massacre. This is interpreted as a threat to one's own or the group identity and, correspondingly, the group will be deeply affected by a fear of extinction and of what the future will be.

What I intend to demonstrate is that the 'pathological dimension of ethnicity,'(25) born from fear and threat about ethnic identity, is the starting point of a psychological escalation process that will evolve and substantially act upon the duration and intensity of ethnic conflict, as well as on the outcome.

Terrel Northrup has described the operation of identity in conflict escalation in terms of several psychological processes that tend to make conflict more and more intense and intractable. The different stages in the escalation are threat, distortion, rigidification, and collusion.(26) Northrup's escalation model is not based on any particular kind of conflict, but covers a range of conflicts from personal to social. I will try to apply this model to ethnic conflict.

The first stage is threat. Threat, to group and individual identity, as previously observed may be real or imagined. Members of both parties believe that their own existence is threatened by the mere existence of the other. Or as William Davidson stated, "Each side perceives the fulfilment of the other's identity as equivalent to the destruction of its own identity."(27)

The second stage is called distortion. Northrup describes distortion as a psychological response to threat and termed aggression. The aggressive response is not necessarily violent. The response to the perceived threat will be distorted in the sense that it will be of a defensive kind. Individuals and groups, because of their defensive position, will behave more aggressively while interacting with another group.

Rigidification is the third psychological process in the escalation. "It is a process of crystallising and hardening what is construed as self and non-self . . . serving to put distance between the self and the threat."(28) "In effect, rigidification involves increasing efforts to secure the boundaries for self. Self and other become mutually exclusive categories."(29) This rigidification process solidifies conflict as a whole because it sustains a mechanism of exclusion in order to preserve the identity of the group. At best, it creates an image of others that is characterised by suspicion, hostility, and mistrust, and at worst, a process of dehumanisation that renders violence against another group more tolerable, is put in place.

The last stage is collusion. As conflict or aspects of it become a part of the parties' identities, in a sense they collude in prolonging the conflictual relationship. At this stage, conflict becomes institutionalised.

What can clearly be seen from this escalation model is that identity, ethnic identity in particular, plays a crucial role in the hardening of relationships between groups that will leave them with strong negative perceptions vis-à-vis the 'other' and its intention. Destruction of the 'other' could be the ultimate stage.

In conclusion of this section on psycho-cultural conflict theory, I would like to add the following remarks. Firstly, it is through this psychological process, originating in a history of discrimination and a feeling of threat and fear about ethnic identity, that psychological dispositions are created and embedded in group consciousness.

Secondly, it is important to notice that the escalation of conflict in terms of psychological processes can last a very long time. As such, conflict remains latent, that is to say that the clash in goals is recognised, yet no actual conflict behaviour is directed against the other party. In order for conflict to become overt or, in conflict jargon, manifest, 'proximate' factors will have to operate as triggers. The proximate causes of conflict are "catalytic factors that transform potentially violent situations into deadly conflicts."(30) These proximate causes are usually political, economic, or social factors. Increasing economic problems, for example, because of the predisposed psychological tendencies of one group will be interpreted through the ethnic prism (i.e., one group will be blamed for the situation by the other). Coupled with another situation, like a trend of political transition towards democracy, as an unacceptable challenge for some members of the elite of the dominant group, the result could be a group mobilisation by leaders for action. In other words, ethnic activists and political entrepreneurs polarise societies by manipulating the psychological dispositions of their group, magnifying myths and emotions (easy thing to do in a context where a group is particularly myth-receptive), and exacerbating ethnic anger directed at a scapegoat - that is, the other group. So, the effect of proximate factors in a dispositional subjective context will bring about a break out in violent conflict.

Finally, ethnic conflict taken as a whole is not a linear process. It is a dynamic one. Ethnic conflict can, over a long period of time, escalate, explode, de-escalate, and re-escalate. Moreover, as the causes of conflict include subjective elements that are non-negotiable, psychological dispositions and interpretations, a protracted conflict of this kind can further become solidified and the parties will further become mutually exclusive categories. Dehumanising ideologies will emerge and consolidate, which is extremely dangerous because it is often the precursor to genocidal slaughter.

Before discussing the case of Rwanda, an attempt to briefly summarise the development of my argumentation so far would not be superfluous.

I argued that protracted social conflict is often ethnic in nature and that it has multiple causes. The major cause is the denial or deprivation of basic human needs, objective or subjective, which individuals and groups are ready to fight to fulfill.

I then argued that structural conflict theory, which analyses the structural or objective causes of conflict, is not sufficiently comprehensive to allow for full understanding of the underlying causes of conflict. Besides, it does not provide any information as far as the escalation, duration, and intensity of conflict are concerned. Psycho-cultural conflict theory, which is a subjective approach to conflict, does. This theory analyses the creation and the evolution of psychological dispositions of individuals and groups that may have important consequences for conflict behaviour.

I finally argued that both theories are complementary. Structural and psychological factors interact in the triggering of violent conflict. Structural factors are often proximate causes that set off violent conflict in a predisposed psychological context that will influence the duration and intensity of such conflict. Hence, both theories are necessary to understand what causes serious conflict. Identification of and understanding of the underlying causes of protracted social conflict will be determinant in the choice of the most adequate conflict resolution strategy.

The Case of Rwanda

"Imana yirirwa ahandi igataha i Rwanda"

God spends the day elsewhere, but always comes back to spend the night in Rwanda

(Rwandan proverb)

On the night of 6 April 1994, many Tutsi and Hutu did not see God but the Devil's darkness as the killing machine started. It ended a few months later, but not before up to 800,000 people had been killed.

A lot has been written recently about Rwanda, yet the literature almost exclusively treats the post-genocide period. The failure of UN intervention and the problem of refugees have been the biggest concerns. Few authors have actually tried to fully investigate the causes of the tragedy. Those who did have limited their research to the immediate causes: overpopulation and land shortage on the one hand and the role of extremists on the other.

I believe these elements must definitely be taken into consideration, but they do not offer a plausible explanation of why people started slaughtering their neighbours so frenetically. Material interests and propaganda do not explain a genocide.

To understand the Rwandan tragedy, efforts must be undertaken, not only to examine its immediate causes but also its remote causes. In reference to the theoretical framework of this paper, I argue that, as far as Rwanda is concerned, what are usually known as the immediate causes of genocide (structural, economic, political factors) would not have produced such a tragic event had the predisposed psychological tendencies of the people been different.

These dispositional psychological tendencies, which have influenced the behaviour of the members of the two main groups, Hutu and Tutsi, have been unequivocally conditioned by a common history of myths, mistrust and fear.

Partially quoting Jewsiewicki, René Lemarchand indicates that "No attempt to come to grips with the contemporary dimensions of ethnicity can overlook the potential for conflict inherent in the specific form of historically grounded relations between individuals."(31)

In this section, the aim firstly will be to identify and analyse the remote causes, or psycho-cultural factors, of Rwanda's protracted ethnic conflict in general, the genocide in particular. Secondly, attention will be directed to the structural factors and will show how the two sets of factors have actually interacted in activating the events of 1994.

To do so, the theoretical concepts and definitions of conflict theory developed in my theoretical framework will be of great help.

Myths and Reality: a Psycho-cultural Perspective

In order to pertinently sustain the psycho-cultural, subjective, or perceptual, explanation of Rwanda's protracted conflict, historical elements need to be examined because, as argued in the earlier section, the past shapes present and future beliefs and actions of individuals and groups.

The theory of 'ancient hatreds' that many ethnic groups bear against each other is often put forward to explain contemporary ethnic conflict. Can this view hold true with Rwanda? An attempt to answer this question would require an extended analysis of pre-colonial Rwandan history, which lies beyond the scope of this paper. However, a brief study of certain literature addressing this question has revealed that Rwanda's pre-colonial history arouses a divergence of views among scholars. The main point of interest focuses on the two main groups: Hutu and Tutsi.(32) Are they two distinct ethnic groups and what was the nature of their relationship?

Some scholars depict pre-colonial Rwanda as being almost idyllic. How could it be different, it is argued, given the fact that Hutu and Tutsi have lived peacefully side by side for

centuries, sharing the same Bantu language, culture, and often the same lifestyle. Hence, it is "singularly inappropriate to describe Hutu and Tutsi as being ethnically different from each other."(33) This view attributes the creation of the ethnic categories 'Hutu' and 'Tutsi' and ethnic consciousness to colonialism.

However, it is also recognised that, even if ethnic consciousness is a false, artificially imposed consciousness, ethnicity as such remains. This means that ethnic identities are not mere invention. As Filip Reyntjens argues, different 'ethnies' did exist in pre-colonial Rwanda. " . . . Chacun sait qu'il est Hutu, Tutsi ou Twa"(34) (Each person knows whether he is Hutu, Tutsi or Twa). An African author and political scientist, Mahmood Mamdani, writes that, "the Batutsi and the Bahutu spoke the same language, had the same culture and lived on the same hills. But they had yet to become one people."(35)

Furthermore, it appears that social relationships were all but harmonious between the groups. The pre-colonial Rwandan state established a pastoralist domination over a subject peasantry in which "the majority Hutu peasantry suffered institutionalised discrimination and disadvantage due to the system of stratification established by their minority Tutsi overlords."(36)

Michael Banton nevertheless stated that, "Although the traditional social structure (patron-client) contained a great many sources of conflict, in practice few if any conflicts followed ethnic lines."(37)

Thus, quite obviously, "even if Rwanda was not a land of peace and bucolic harmony before the arrival of the Europeans, there is no trace in its pre-colonial history of systematic violence between Tutsi and Hutu as such."(38) In this respect, the theory of 'ancient hatreds' cannot really account for Rwanda's ethnic conflict.

In order, therefore, to understand the root causes of this conflict, it appears focus should be placed not on the ancient past, but on recent history. In the first section, the role of colonialism in the strengthening and polarising of group differences was emphasised. It is necessary, it was assumed, to understand the relations of the respective groups to the colonial power, and to each other, to appreciate their future impact on ethnic conflict.

What has been the legacy of colonialism in Rwanda? The Belgians, after the First World War, continued the German policy of indirect administration, partly because it was cheaper, but were destroying the legitimacy of the rule of traditional authorities among the population and were 'restratifying' Rwandan society.(39)

To effect this policy, they had to rely on one supposedly 'superior' group, the Tutsi. The restratification was indeed rationalised and legitimised by an imaginary distinction between a superior race of immigrant 'Hamites' and the so called 'primitive indigenous Negroes.' The 'Hamitic hypothesis,' although long-since discredited, held the Tutsi to be more civilised, physically closer to the Europeans, and therefore "deserving of greater power, privilege, and status than the Hutu within the pseudo-racial hierarchy created by colonial policy."(40)

The colonial evaluation of the ethnic group based on 'racial superiority' and level of 'civilisation,' discussed in the first section, is thus more than appropriate to the Rwanda case.

The Tutsi supremacy was thus preserved, and indeed strengthened, under colonial rule. This was achieved in several ways: by facilitating the territorial expansion of Tutsi political hegemony; by a rigorous control over all educational opportunities; and by the attribution of high posts in the administration and the coercive machinery, etc.(41)

The result of this has been the monopolisation of power in the hands of the Tutsi which has proved a crucial element in the accentuation of class consciousness and the 'structuration' of ethnic cleavage. The sharp coincidence of ethnicity and class became no longer irrefutable. Furthermore, since the Tutsi functionaries bore the greatest responsibility of the oppressive colonial policies, "their ruthless suppression of any resistance in the maintenance of law and order watered seeds of animosity among the comprador class and the ruled."(42)

By reinforcing, structuring, and exacerbating ethnic identities, colonialism had also planted the seeds of two radically different and incompatible nationalist myths.(43)

The first myth derives from a 'primordialist' interpretation of ethnic identities. In this case, I am told, identities are objective cultural differences between groups. Some Hutu politicians use (and abuse) the primordialist argument to point to irreconcilable historical antagonisms between the Hutu and the Hamitic 'invaders' from the North. The TutsI am naturally evil and use any possible means to dominate the Hutu.

The second myth derives from a 'constructivist' or 'instrumentalist' view. In this case, ethnic identity is thought to be a social construction that can be easily manipulated. As Benedict Anderson noted, "Communities are imagined." For a number of Tutsi, the Hutu-Tutsi antagonism has been created by the colonial state. Constructivist Tutsi would deny any separate identity between the two groups as well as any inequality or oppression of Hutu by Tutsi whatsoever. The main reference to look at is pre-colonial Rwanda. The consequences of the impact of these two conflicting myths, transformed into two incompatible dogmatic ideologies, are obvious.

Thus, colonialism and anthropologists of that period bear a great deal of responsibility for the process of deconstruction and ideological reconstruction of the past. However, the impact of colonial rule was obviously stronger on the Hutu. The Tutsi, whose supremacy was reinforced, further believed they were born to dominate and lead others. The Hutu, on the contrary, felt more repressed, humiliated, and inferior than ever. "The Hutu, deprived of all political power and materially exploited by both the whites and the Tutsi, were told by everyone that they were inferiors who deserved their fate and who came to believe it."(44)

Since the gap of mistrust began to widen between Hutu and Tutsi and the fear of Tutsi domination began to rise, the Hutu took the opportunity presented through political mobilisation to reaffirm themselves as a group. In the previous section, reference was made to the observation

made by Horowitz that a 'backward' group will react to its status and "unflattering images of group characteristics" by initiating violence or using the political system for the confirmation of 'group worth.'(45)

It appears, clearly, that the political demands were formulated in ethnic terms. The main Hutu political document, the Bahutu Manifesto, while claiming the right for emancipation and affirming the humiliation of the Hutu and their socio-economic inferiority, expressed its whole argument using 'racial' terms and stereotypes.(46)

The 'pathological dimension of ethnicity' referred to previously was most evident. Based on 'false histories' and on their experience as oppressed people, the Hutu feared the domination of the Tutsi. They felt a threat to their original identity as native people. The psychological escalation process of conflict was henceforth activated. In reaction to these permanent threats and fears, distorted behaviours and rigidified relationships became the norm. "The whole climate became poisoned as political rivalry went into heavily symbolic disputes, not amenable to reason."(47)

In 1959, the situation culminated with the Hutu 'social revolution' which was, according to Lemarchand, "primarily, though not exclusively, an ethnic phenomenon."(48) It was indeed a social and anti-monarchical revolution, but it turned anti-Tutsi as the tension and violence were increasingly directed against the wider Tutsi population.

After independence in 1962, new myths emerged, but did not destroy the old ones. This simply proves that the myths created in colonial times had not merely accompanied the revolution, but were also powerful and well entrenched in group consciousness, and thus serve to shape the beliefs and behaviour of people in the future. As stated by Stephen Van Evera , "Myths survive after the revolution is won."(49)

We argue that these myths, ideas, and hatreds were to prove crucial in the future coexistence of the two groups and in the level of intensity of the events of 1994.

This psycho-cultural context was obviously not appropriate for a peaceful coexistence. The period between the revolution of 1959 and the genocide was, as described, characterised by the escalation of tension and mistrust between Hutu and Tutsi. Ethnic skirmishes became endemic, but above all, between 1959 and 1973 (date of the 'coup d'état' led by Habyarimana) anti-Tutsi riots cost between 250,000 and 600,000 lives according to sources.(50)

Among the Tutsi population, therefore, the threat of the majority accentuated the constant 'fear of extinction.' The Hutu, in the position of power, were willing to exercise it over the 'enemy' because present facts were validating the history. Firstly, the Tutsi were still able to do well for themselves socially and economically. "They still retained a larger portion of the economic and governmental pie than their demographic share warranted,"(51) which served to further fuel Hutu susceptibilities and 'fear of domination.' Secondly, guerrilla movements based mainly in Uganda launched raids into Rwanda, aggravating the scale of the real Tutsi threat. Thirdly, atrocities against the Hutu in Tutsi-led Burundi had massive psychological impact in Rwanda, especially the partial genocide against Hutu that took place in 1972. The 'mythico-histories,' defined by Lemarchand as a mixture of fact and fiction, take all their sense in this context.

In summary of the case study of Rwanda, the fact that for almost half a century the two main groups have lived with fears, hatreds, and the belief in irrational myths and mythico-histories must be emphasised. This has most certainly conditioned their psychological dispositions and contributed to the escalation of antipathy and mistrust in their coexistence and to a situation of latent conflict. The time-bomb had been set. For the conflict to become manifest and burst out, some other factors must still appear. They unfortunately did.

Structural Factors: the Proximate Causes

Although common wisdom would suggest that the causes of the Rwanda tragedy were mainly structural/material, my main argument in this paper is that Rwanda's violent conflict was the result of two sets of factors: structural/material and psycho-cultural.

I argued in the first part of this section that what I call structural factors were insufficient in offering an explanation for the protracted nature of this ethnic conflict and the intensity of its ultimate disastrous outcome. I also argued that subjective elements might account for the duration, escalation, and intensity of conflict, but cannot by themselves make latent conflict explode. Gerard Prunier claimed, "Ideas and myths can kill."(52) Yes, but not on their own.

In this second part, I propose to demonstrate that the interplay of both kind of factors led to the dramatic events of 1994. These factors by no means can be dichotomised. Though the psychological tendencies of a group, resulting from a history of fears, hatred and real or misperceived threat, predispose this group to behave violently, some proximate factors have to operate for the latent protracted conflict to break out.

Structural factors in Rwanda were different in nature and can be grouped into three main categories: socio-economic, military, and political.

There is no doubt that Rwanda's socio-economic problems somehow lay at the heart of the increasing ethnic tensions. Rwanda is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a demographic growth of 3.2%, and has the highest population density in Africa. Moreover, each square kilometre of arable land has to support an average of over four hundred people. As the majority of local people live in rural areas, land pressure and landlessness are acute problems.(53) The issue of land is extensively discussed in a paper written by Platteau in which he claims that "Rwanda is caught in the Malthusian trap" and stresses the connection between the problem of extreme land pressure and the break out of violence.(54)

Paradoxically, despite this worrying picture, it is claimed that until the mid-1980s, Rwanda has been a good economic performer with good GDP growth rates. Colette Braeckman, a Belgian journalist with specialised knowledge in Central Africa, indeed argued in her last book that, ". . . le pays a été géré de manière prudente. D'incontestables succès économiques ont été enregistrés. La croissance du produit intérieur brut est de 4,9% et la monnaie est stable . . ." (The country has followed prudent measures. There has been undeniable economic success. The GNP has expanded at a 4.9% annual rate and the currency is stable.)(55) The economic situation, however, took a turn for the worse after 1985. The collapse of the price of coffee in 1989 was the first economic shock that struck the Rwandan population, coffee being the largest foreign exchange earner. The second shock was the beginning of the civil war against the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) operating from Uganda, which brought increased disruption to the economy.

With the deteriorating conditions, the Rwandan government was left with no option but to seek and accept International Monetary Fund assistance. The main reforms to be undertaken concerned a 67% devaluation of the national currency and the usual policies included in the Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs): privatisation, cuts in public spending, etc.(56) All this took place a week after the start of the war. As Prunier noted, "It was horse medicine and it could possibly have worked if it had been used ten years before. But between the coffee price decline and the war economy crisis, the SAPs merely contributed to weakening further an already exhausted economy."(57)

If it is undeniable that there were real economic problems in Rwanda, it is also true, as indicated in an African Rights Report that, "Such economic tensions do not on their own create genocide."(58)

The second category of structural factors concerns the already mentioned military threat of the RPF. This situation activated the permanent 'fear of domination' by the Tutsi.

The threat to the Hutu identity and integrity was more acute than ever. Mixed with mythico-histories on the one hand and knowledge about real facts taking place in Burundi against the Hutu on the other, anxiety and fear were rising among the Hutu population.

Finally, I argue that the crucial catalytic element that activated the beginning of the slaughters was political in nature. This constitutes the third category. In 1990, the year of the RPF invasion, President Habyarimana agreed to democratic reforms. Three years later, the negotiations for the Arusha agreement were taking shape. This accord would not only threaten the privileges of a small powerful clique of the President's entourage, known as the Akazu, but its government was in the position to lose a great deal by the agreement. The Arusha agreement was, in effect, an implementation programme which called, among other things, for power-sharing with the existing opposition parties and the RPF and the integration of RPF forces in the national army. This was simply too much for the extremists.

In short, the problems for some of the elements of the regime were the following: they were facing a growing unsatisfied population deprived of some of its basic human needs due to the deteriorating socio-economic situation, the possibility of new domination by the Tutsi (RPF), and the impending consequences of a multiparty democracy. As the political entrepreneurs were incapable of addressing the economic situation, extremist elements used it to sort out the two other problems.

It is evident that some political entrepreneurs and ethnic activists took advantage of a situation of anxiety and frustration among the people in order to fulfil their political aims. As such, political factors were the major proximate cause of ethnic violence in Rwanda in the 1990s (i.e., the catalytic elements that triggered the killings, if I assume that a hierarchy of causes is appropriate for the clarity of the explanation).

But, as argued previously, the proximate causes could only have produced a genocide because of their interplay with predisposed psycho-cultural tendencies.

Stephen Van Evera indicated that "Regimes that face overwhelming tasks - e.g., economic or social collapse - will be tempted to use myths to divert popular impatience with their inability to improve conditions."(59) The conditions in Rwanda - increasing poverty, fear of domination and threat of war - accentuated the receptivity of mythmaking by the people. The Hutu were more amenable to believe that 'others' were responsible for their pain. In this respect, the economic situation played the role of what Rothschild called "internal magnifier of enemy idea."(60) The Hutu propaganda was obviously also responsible for scapegoating and dehumanising the Tusti. The threat of war, combined with fear of domination, also played an important role in further dehumanising the 'evil other,' the RPF, and the whole Tutsi population.(61)

The prevalence of such an anti-Tutsi atmosphere was indubitably inflamed by extremist propaganda(62) and a burdensome structural socio-economic situation, but the genocidal mentality was a product of a longer and much more complex process. As Ross observed, "Objective situations alone do not cause overt conflict: the interpretation of such situations is central."(63) These internal mental interpretations are the result of early social experiences (pre-colonial and colonial) reinforced through culturally sanctioned messages and experiences (notably the 1972 genocide of Hutu in Burundi), as well as through recent objective situations (socio-economic problems, threat of war). Actors are thus conditioned by experiences, fears, and belief system to act aggressively and to even try to exterminate a whole ethnic population. They act in that way at present "by fear of the future, lived through the past."(64)

I conclude this section by stating that the tragedy of 1994 was not just a cold reaction to objective or structural problems. As a matter of fact, these factors were the proximate causes of the events, yet they emerged in a predisposed psycho-cultural context laden with mythico-histories, fears, and misperceptions that account for the intensity of violence. Prunier wittingly indicated that "What we have witnessed in Rwanda is a historical product . . . not a 'spontaneous' bestial outburst." He also stated that ". . . Tutsi and Hutu have killed each other (over the years) more to upbraid a certain vision they have of themselves, of the others and of their place in the world than because of material interests."(65)

Implication for Conflict Resolution: a Multilateral Approach

The title of this paper raises a question: Why consider the subjective perspective in conflict resolution strategies? It seems obvious, in theory, that in order to manage and resolve ethnic conflict, subjective elements should also be taken into consideration, along with structural elements. In practice, however, this constitutes an unorthodox approach. This approach is addressed in this concluding section.

My intention here is to offer some indications as well as some concrete suggestions that I feel should be examined more exhaustively and pragmatically in other research.

It has been previously suggested that ethnic conflicts are usually protracted and seemingly intractable because they have multiple causal factors that account for that peculiarity. Moreover, the argument is that these conflicts are rarely resolved because their underlying causes are ill-defined and too narrowly conceived. Hence, the means and traditional methods employed to manage and resolve them are inadequate or insufficient. Michael Banks noted that "We live in a world in which conflict is rarely understood and often mismanaged."(66) A causal link should rather be established; conflict is often mismanaged as it is misunderstood.

There are two traditional methods of conflict management and resolution. The first is based on the theoretical precepts of the 'realist,' or 'power politics,' paradigm, with its unit of analysis as the state, which effectively leaves no room for psycho-cultural considerations. The primary concern of the realist approach is power politics, which asserts that peace, other than a temporary absence of violence (i.e., negative peace) cannot exist. The traditional realist approach to conflict management, therefore, involves compromise and settlement, which rests ultimately on elements of power and coercion.(67)

The other traditional approach is based on structural conflict theory, which concentrates all efforts at conflict management exclusively on economic and political reconstruction.

I consider the first type of approach to be inadequate, or at least insufficient, in the case of protracted ethnic conflict. A concrete outcome of the traditional approach to conflict management in Rwanda was the Arusha agreement. The agreement was clearly the output of an elite and state-centric approach that did not take into consideration the fact that this conflict was value-laden. It did not address the sense of threat nor the importance of the psychological wounds embedded in group consciousness. Arusha was essentially a strategic solution of containment with limited vision. It could have yielded some positive outcomes had the negotiations been preceded by prenegotiation processes including non-elite actors and aimed at lowering psychological barriers. The agreement was, in effect, negotiated by the parties under great international pressure (i.e., countries that had their own vested interests) and was therefore not self-sustaining. Bruce Jones stressed that by forcing the two sides to adopt untenable positions, the intervention of the Arusha participants (OAU, France, Belgium and the United States) did not provoke the genocide per se, but it had tragic consequences.(68) As A. Groom indicated, "Where there are important values at issue, as distinct from negotiable interests, the use of coercion or pressure in any form to force an opponent party to compromise is likely to be dysfunctional in that it will tend to promote protracted conflict, even after a settlement."(69) That is exactly what happened in Rwanda.

The second approach, the structural approach, is also insufficient. That is not to say that socio-economic and political reconstruction is ruled out. On the contrary, I think that this approach is crucial, but cannot be implemented in isolation. Since protracted conflict is the result of a complex combination of structural and psycho-cultural factors, the latter should be tackled as well if a stable and long-term resolution is to be arrived at. This calls for alternative approaches to conflict resolution that consider the subjective perspective.

The approaches I am presenting and analysing are called 'alternative' because they move away from the state-centric view of classical thinking. Alternative approaches do indeed incorporate individuals and the identity group of individuals as the unit of analysis.

It has been demonstrated that protracted ethnic conflicts are characterised by intense psychological processes of escalation that make the relationship between the parties and the perceptions of the parties toward each other more rigid. Mythico-histories, myths, and realities further intensify mistrust and fear. I argue that failure to consider these subjective elements is to rule out any effective resolution (i.e., a sustainable and lasting peace based on consensus and trust).

These alternative approaches can be undertaken at different stages of the peace-making process: before, during, and after. Many scholars, nevertheless, argue that protracted ethnic conflict can only terminate by victory of one party, making any attempt at prevention inappropriate. This has been the case in Rwanda. I however assume that if genocide is over and the RPF is the victor in the war against Habyarimana's regime, conflict in Rwanda remains unresolved. Though not manifest, it is still latent. It may indeed be contained, yet it is not resolved in the sense that some underlying sources of conflict are still present. On the other hand, as violent protracted conflict is recurrent or chronic, these alternative approaches can be preventive even after a conflict has erupted. It is prevention by resolving the sources of conflict. This is why alternative approaches need to be undertaken in Rwanda, even, and above all, after the events of 1994.

Alternative approaches, or Track-Two Diplomacy as referred to in conflict resolution jargon, are multiple. The problem-solving approach is the most utilised version of Track-Two Diplomacy. Its underlying assumption is that in protracted ethnic conflict enemies have mutually exclusive psychological frames of reference that predispose them to a zero-sum interpretation of their relationship and block a co-operative search for constructive outcome.(70) The aim of the problem-solving approach, which consists of an unofficial and private workshop including the parties and a neutral third-party, is therefore to help the parties redefine their situation, facilitate a mutual understanding of each other, and identify the grievances, perceptions, and values of the parties and disputes. "Creative problem-solving searches for ways of redefining, fractioning, or transcending the conflict so that positive-sum, or win/win solutions, which leave both parties better off, can be discovered."(71) In short, the primary goal is to overcome the psychological barriers - barriers of suspicion, rejection, fear, deception - to the occurrence and the perception of change by injecting knowledge and experience about conflict, conflict behaviour, and psychology into the relationships. Herbert Kelman, a professor of psychology and conflict resolution, argues that "As long as the psychological barriers persist, the parties are locked into rigid assumptions and postures rooted in past history."(72)

Nevertheless, the valuable contribution made by improved communication between the disputants, particularly in highly polarised circumstances, will not resolve a conflict per se. This is the reason why practitioners of problem-solving workshops are interested in working with influential people from the political arena or within their community. The purpose of the problem-solving approach is not only to produce change in the perception of participants, but also to transfer the newly acquired information and insights directly into the decision-making process at the political level. As John Burton mentioned, "The facilitated conflict resolution has to be innovative in guiding the translation of discovered shared values into political structures and institutions that will promote their fulfilment."(73) This aspect of Track-Two Diplomacy is, thus, not a substitute for political negotiations, but rather a prenegotiation process aimed at preparing the way for discussions at an official level. In Milton Esman's opinion, "The main potential for socio-psychological insights is to produce the atmospherics of mediation that are needed to facilitate negotiation and hard bargaining. From these processes may emerge the practical political compromises that can reconcile previously antagonistic ethnic group interests, thereby terminating violence and laying the ground-work for civil coexistence."(74) The last elements of this argument may appear a bit simplistic. As a matter of fact, altering attitudes and perceptions of moderate and sensible leaders is maybe more feasible than altering misperceptions and stereotyped behaviour within a community. However, I believe that it is always possible to promote new values and co-operative behaviour and influence public opinion through different activities.

The following efforts constitute another version of Track-Two Diplomacy dealing more specifically with the grassroots level. The major efforts to be undertaken would have to deal with the transformation of dispositional psychological tendencies of individuals and groups. As they are one of the main sources of ethnic conflict, initiatives must be directed in that way. Elimination of mutual dehumanised images, mistrust, and hatred must be part of the confidence-building process. Concrete measures might include the use of media to influence public opinion, personal and cultural exchanges, and sporting events. Moreover, since achieving harmony seems to be easily enhanced where individuals and groups are brought to work toward common ends, co-operative activities, especially economic co-operation at the micro-level, would be fruitful as well. Though these are crucial elements, the main effort in the long term should, in my view, be directed toward education. As the sense of victimhood and psychological wounds in general are transmitted from one generation to another, education for mutual understanding could play a role in obtaining peace through generational change. Education should promote values of conciliation, compromise, consensus, and tolerance. An Oxfam paper stresses the fact that, "Acknowledgement of the opposing version of history told by Hutu and Tutsi throughout the (Great lakes) region should be incorporated into school syllabuses."(75)

Some scholars are of the belief that other psychologically related issues like mourning processes are necessary for reconciliation to be realistic. Joseph Montville, whose opinion is drawn from the works of psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud and Volkan, highlights the importance of a completed mourning process "by which a victim or victim group 'lets go' of its losses from history or contemporary violence and reintegrates and adapts to a new, reasonably secure status so that it can get on with the business of life."(76) Things might take time though in dehumanised conflict such as the one which occurred in Rwanda.

Justice is another precondition for lasting peace. Not only must impunity be eradicated because it is an incitement to repeat crimes, but individuals responsible for crimes must be brought to justice as it is necessary for victims and relatives to, one day, forgive. Justice is, therefore, also an integral component of the process of reconciliation. As Professor Antonio Cassesse said during a lecture on criminal international justice, "If criminals are not brought to justice (in Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia), we must live in fear."(77)

In summary, the Track-Two efforts at both the decision-making level and the base level are of vital importance. It may be argued that without strategies attempting to alter psycho-cultural interpretations of important actors and of the public, no prospects of reconciliation can exist. Simply put, Track-One Diplomacy, or official diplomacy, cannot work without Track-Two Diplomacy in protracted ethnic conflict. These alternative methods, in particular those centring on the decision-makers, create effective conditions for other components of conflict management and resolution, such as political-institutional building and economic development. The pre-negotiation stage would be determinant in setting a psychological context in which formal negotiations may take place and concentrate on the essentials of political-institutional building like power-sharing or consociationalism schemes, electoral systems, federalisation, and so forth. Unfortunately, detailed analysis of these macro-political forms of ethnic conflict regulation lie beyond the scope of this paper, their consideration, nevertheless, is vital to any ethnic conflict management strategies.(78)

The structural approach, one of the traditional approaches to conflict management and resolution, although earlier described as insufficient as it fails to consider psychological elements, must be seen as crucial. In light of this, therefore, the need for a multilateral approach should be emphasised. Thus alternative approaches to protracted ethnic conflict resolution, which consider the subjective perspective, and structural approaches, which consider economic and political-institutional development, are not mutually exclusive but rather mutually reinforcing.

An environment conducive (i.e., psychologically predisposed) to constructive official negotiations and to sustainable peace needs structural development in order to be further consolidated. Azar asserted that "peace is development" and trying to resolve conflict without addressing in general the question of underdevelopment, in a general sense, is futile.(79) Development diplomacy is needed to help economic and political reconstruction while addressing communal inequalities.

Protracted ethnic conflicts are complex because they have multiple underlying sources. Only when all the sources - structural and psycho-cultural - are identified, can there be the development of comprehensive conflict management strategies that address psychological and development goals and result in the genuine resolution of conflict.


This paper has tried to shed some light on different issues concerning Rwanda's protracted social conflict, often called protracted ethnic conflict. I have attempted to present and develop a comprehensive argument in order to, hopefully, answer the two main questions raised tacitly in the subject title: why has Rwanda's conflict remained unresolved and why should the subjective perspective be considered in any attempt to resolve it?

Firstly, an exposition and analysis were made of two conflict theories that differ in their diagnoses of the fundamental roots of ethnic conflict. While arguing that both are useful, it has also been claimed that, contrary to psycho-cultural conflict theory, structural conflict theory does not help in explaining what accounts for the duration, escalation, and finally the intensity of ethnic conflict.

I then applied the different theoretical concepts by way of a case study of Rwanda. It has been shown that the extreme ethnic violence that led to a genocide of up to one million people in 1994 was a result of a tragic interaction between inopportune structural factors, which actually operated as triggers, and predisposed psychological tendencies created by real experiences, mythico-histories, misperceptions, and fear consolidated over the years. I argued that the integration of subjective factors in the general explanation of the causes of the massacres was crucial in order to understand the 'genocidal mentality,' as it is assumed that people do not commit genocide just for pure material interests.

Finally, I argued that Rwanda's conflict remains unresolved because these psycho-cultural factors are rarely considered in traditional conflict resolution strategies. It would go against the orthodoxy of the realist paradigm of the international relations discipline that only has the 'state' as unit of analysis. Individuals are not taken into account.

I demonstrated that alternative approaches to conflict resolution considering the subjective perspective were necessary to lower the psychological barriers between antagonistic parties and set the stage for official negotiations on political and economic reconstruction. Structural factors are thus not ruled out from conflict resolution strategies, as only a multilateral approach could bring back two inseparable vital necessities: peace and development. I truly believe that this multilateral approach is the sole possibility that could help the people of Rwanda to create a political community based on shared developmental goals and values that will transcend the Hutu/Tutsi identities.

There are, of course, many unexplored issues and unanswered questions concerning this topic. Indeed, a more in depth examination of the important issue of land as a structural causal factor of conflict or, as far as resolution strategies are concerned, a closer look at institutional building, may have been conducted. Those are irrefutably crucial issues to be analysed. This paper, however, is limited in scope and thus the field of investigation was deliberately narrowed and focus placed on the subjective perspective of Rwanda's protracted social conflict.

This paper is a tentative attempt to draw attention to an unresolved conflict in a small African nation that demands peace, development . . . and that God returns to spend the night.

1. In the literature of conflict studies we found various models dealing with the causes of conflict but too often in an uni-disciplinary way (e.g. social-psychological, ethnic and nationalist, structural, human needs, gender, etc.).

2. E. Azar, 'Protracted International Conflicts: Ten Propositions,' in J. Burton and F. Dukes (eds.), Conflict: Readings in Management and Resolution (London: Macmillan Press, 1990), p.145.

3. S. Ryan, Ethnic Conflict and International Relations (Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1990), p.xxvii.

4. As far as this paper is concerned, community refers to groups whose members share ethnic 'identity' characteristics.

5. E. Azar and C.I. Moon, 'Managing Protracted Social Conflicts in the Third World: Facilitation and Development Diplomacy,' in Millenium: Journal of International Studies (Vol.15, N°3, 1986), p.305.

6. E. Azar, 'The Theory of Protracted Social Conflicts and the Challenge of Transforming Conflict Situation,' in D. Zinnes (ed.) Conflict Process and the Breakdown of International System (Denver, CO: University of Denver, 1983), p.90.

7. See among others, M. Brown, 'Causes and Implications of Ethnic Conflict,' in M. Brown (ed.), Ethnic Conflict and International Security (Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 3-27; 'The Causes and Regional Dimensions of Internal Conflict,' in M. Brown (ed.), The International Dimension of Internal Conflict (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1996), pp.571-603; M.Ross, The Management of Conflict: Interpretations and Interests in Comparative Perspective (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993); T. Woodhouse, 'Commentary: Negotiating a New Millenium? Prospects for African Conflict Resolution,' in Review of African Political Economy (N°68, 1996), pp. 129-137; S. Van Evera, 'Hypothesis on Nationalism and War,' in International Security (Vol.18, N°4, Spring 1994), pp. 8-9.

8. T. Woodhouse, Ibid., p.137.

9. D. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), pp. 181-182.

10. M. Ross, The Management of Conflict, op.cit., p.18.

11. C. Mitchell, 'Recognising Conflict' in T. Woodhouse (ed.) Peacemaking in a Troubled World (Oxford: Berg Publishers, 1991), p.218.

12. M. Ross, The Management of Conflict, op.cit., pp.24,194.

13. E. Azar quoted in M. Rabie, Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity (London: Praeger, 1994), p.27.

14. M. Deutsch, 'Subjective Features of Conflict Resolution: Psychological, Social and Cultural Influences' in R. Vayrynen (ed.), New Direction in Conflict Theory: Conflict Resolution and Transformation (London: Sage Publ., 1991), p.28.

15. M. Ross, The Management of Conflict, op.cit., p.18.

16. For an insight into the theory of human needs, see books by John Burton who is the principal exponent of this theory. Among others, J. Burton (ed.), Conflict: Human Needs Theory (London: Macmillan, 1990).

17. E. Crighton and Martha Mac Iver, 'The Evolution of Protracted Ethnic Conflict: Group Dominance and Political Underdevelopment in Northern Ireland and Lebanon,' in Comparative Politics (Vol.23 N°2, Jan. 1991) p.127.

18. D. Rothschild and A. Groth, 'Pathological Dimension of Domestic and International Ethnicity,' in Political Science Quarterly (Vol.110, N°1, 1995).

19. In J. Montville, 'Epilogue: The Human Factor Revisited,' in J. Montville (ed), Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies (New York: Lexington Books, 1991), pp. 537-538; and in W. Davidson and J. Montville, 'Foreign Policy According to Freud,' in Foreign Policy (N°145 Winter, 1981-1982), p.148.

20. D. Lake and D. Rothschild, 'Containing Fear: The Origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict,' in International Security (Vol. 21 N°2, Fall 1996), p.51.

21. M. Rabie, Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity (London: Praeger, 1994), p. 162.

22. D. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, op.cit., pp.160-167.

23. W. Davidson calls these hostile reactions: 'narcissistic rage,' see W. Davidson and J. Montville, 'Foreign Policy According to Freud,' op.cit., p.148.

24. D. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, op.cit., p.167.

25. "Pathology may be defined as a pervasive sense of anxiety, hostility, and estrangement project onto other surrounding ethnic groups, as opposed to a more neutral sense of one's own identity and distinctiveness," see D. Rothschild and A. Groth, 'Pathological Dimensions of Domestic and International Ethnicity,' op.cit., p.69.

26. T. Northrup, 'The Dynamic of Identity in Personal and Social Conflict,' in L. Kriesberg et al. (eds.), Intractable Conflicts and their Transformation (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1989), pp.68-76.

27. W. Davidson and J. Montville, 'Foreign Policy According to Freud,' op.cit., p.153.

28. T. Northrup, 'The Dynamic of Identity in Personal and Social Conflict,' op.cit., p.70.

29. Ibid., p.71.

30. M. Brown, The International Dimensions of Internal Conflict, op.cit., p.578.

31. R. Lemarchand, Burundi: Ethnocide as Discourse and Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p.34.

32. The Hutu usually represent approximately 84% of the population, the Tutsi 15% and the Twa 1%.

33. J. Bayo Adekanye, 'Rwanda/Burundi: Uni-ethnic Dominance and the Cycle of Armed Ethnic Formation,' in Social Identities (Vol. 2, N°1, 1996), p.38.

34. F. Reyntjens, L'Afrique des Grands Lacs en Crise (Paris, Ed. Karthala, 1994), p.11.

35. M. Mamdani, 'Footsteps of Hutu-Tutsi Killings,' in The New Vision (Vol.10, N°211, 04/09/95), p.3.

36. O. Igwara, 'Ethnicity, Nationalism and Genocide in Rwanda,' in O. Igwara (ed.), Ethnic Hatred and Genocide in Rwanda (London: Asen Publications, 1995), p.4.

37. M. Banton, Ethnic and Racial Consciousness (London: Longman, 1997), p.72.

38.  G. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst & Company, 1995), p.39.

39. D.Waller, Rwanda: Which Way Now? (Oxford: Oxfam UK & Ireland, 1993), p.6.

40. J. Bayo Adekanye, Rwanda/Burundi: 'Uni-ethnic' Dominance and the Cycle of Armed Ethnic Formations, op.cit., p.41.

41. D. Kamukama, Rwanda Conflict: Its Roots and Regional Implications (Kampala, Ug.: Fountain Publishers, 1993) , pp. 20-22. and R. Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi (London: Pall Mall Press, 1970), p.73.

42. D. Kamukama, Ibid., p.22.

43. C. Kaufmann, 'Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil Wars,' in International Security (Vol.20 N°4, Spring 1996), p.140. and R. Lemarchand, 'Burundi in Comparative Perspective: Dimensions of Ethnic Strife,' in J. Mc Garry and B. O'Leary (eds.), The Politics of Ethnic Conflict Regulation (London: Routledge, 1993), pp.160-161.

44. G. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, op.cit., p.39.

45. D. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, op.cit., p.167.

46. Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience (Vol.1, 1996), pp.26-28.

47. G. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, op.cit., p.47.

48. R. Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi, op.cit., p.96.

49. S. Van Evera, Hypotheses on Nationalism and War, op.cit., p.32.

50. "There are also almost 700 000 refugees, i.e. people who left Rwanda because of political persecution between 1959 and 1973," in G. Prunier, The Rwandan Crisis, op.cit., p.63. and A. Bell-Fialkoff, Ethnic Cleansing (New-York: St Martin Press, 1996), pp. 185-186.

51. A. Bell-Fialkoff, Ibid., p.185.

52. G. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, op.cit., p.40.

53. The Economist Intelligence Unit, Rwanda, Burundi Country Report, 1995-1996; G. Prunier, Rwanda Crisis, op.cit.; O. Igwara, 'Ethnicity, Nationalism and Genocide in Rwanda,' op.cit.

54. J-P. Platteau and C. André, Land Relations Under Unbearable Stress: Rwanda Caught in the Malthusian Trap (CRED, University of Namur, Belgium, February 1996), pp. 1-39.

55. "The country is managed in a prudent way. Unconstatable economic successes have been observed. The GDP growth is 4.9% and the currency is stable ( . . . )" , C. Braeckman, Terreur Africaine (Paris: Fayard, 1996), p.115.

56. D. Waller, Rwanda: Which Way Now?, op.cit., p.33.

57. G. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, op.cit., p160.

58. African Rights, Rwanda: Death, Despair and Defiance (London: September 1994), p.14.

59. S. Van Evera, 'Hypotheses on Nationalism and War,' op.cit., p.31.

60. D. Rothschild and A. Groth, 'Pathological Dimensions of Domestic and International Ethnicity,' op.cit., pp.73-76.

61. V. Volkan, 'Psychoanalytic Aspects of Ethnic Conflicts,' in J. Montville (ed.), Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies, op.cit., p.89.

62. The Hutu propaganda succeeded to assimilate the Hutu moderates as being as dangerous and demoniac as the Tutsi and had therefore to be killed as well.

63. M. Ross, The Management of Conflict, op.cit., p.27.

64. D. Lake and D. Rothschild, 'Containing Fear: The Origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict,' op.cit., p.43.

65. G. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, op.cit., pp. xi, 40.

66. M. Banks, quoted in M. Rabie, Conflict Resolution and Ethnicity, op.cit., p.11.

67. J. Burton, Resolving Deep-rooted Conflict (Virginia: University Press of America, 1987), p.5; M. Banks, 'The International Relations Discipline: Assets or Liability for Conflict Resolution?,' pp.51-70 and A. Groom, 'Paradigms in Conflict: the Strategist, the Conflict Researcher and the Peace Researcher,' pp.71-74, in J. Burton and F. Dukes (eds.), Conflict: Readings in Management and Resolution (London: Macmillan, 1990).

68. B. Jones, 'Intervention without Borders: Humanitarian Intervention in Rwanda, 1990-94,' in Millenium: Journal of International Studies (Vol.24, N°2, 1995), pp.240-246.

69. A. Groom, Ibid., pp. 88-89.

70. A. de Reuck, 'A Theory of Conflict Resolution by Problem-Solving,' in J. Burton and F. Dukes (eds.), Conflict: Readings in Management and Resolution, op.cit., pp.183-197.

71. H. Kelman, 'Interactive Problem-Solving: a Social-Psychological Approach to Conflict Resolution,' in J. Burton and F. Dukes (eds.), Conflict: Readings in Management and Resolution, op.cit., pp. 201.

72. Ibid., p.203.

73. J. Burton, Resolving Deep-Rooted Conflict, op.cit., p.17.

74. M. Esman, 'Political and Psychological Factors in Ethnic Conflict,' in J. Montville (ed.), Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies, op.cit., p.63.

75. Oxfam International Paper, Rwanda Never Again: The Search for Durable Solutions in the African Great Lakes Region, April 1996, p.16.

76. J. Montville, 'Epilogue: The Human Factor Revisited,' in J. Montville (ed.),Conflict and Peacemaking in Multiethnic Societies, op.cit., 538.

77. A. Cassesse, President of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Lecture: Why do we need criminal international justice?, European University Institute, Academy of Law (Summer session on Human Rights), Florence, Italy, 07 July 1997.

78. More details about political and institutional building schemes or on rebuilding war-torn societies in general can be found in J. Mc Garry and B. O'Leary (eds.), The Politics of Ethnic Conflict Resolution, op.cit.; D. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict, op.cit.; P. Weiss Fagen, After the Conflict: a Review of Selected Sources on Rebuilding War-torn Societies, UNRISD (Geneva, 1995).

79. E. Azar, 'Protracted International Conflicts: Ten Propositions, in J. Burton and F. Dukes (eds.), Conflict: Readings in Management and Resolution, op.cit., pp. 153-155.

Steve Utterwulghe is a Senior Project Officer for Africa at the European Centre for Common Ground, a Brussels-based not-for-profit international organisation that works with European institutions, governments and NGOs to enhance conflict prevention and resolution in the international arena. Before working at Common Ground Brussels and Washington, DC, where he focuses on the Great Lakes region and Angola, Mr. Utterwulghe was a consultant at the European Commission, Directorate General for Development, desks Rwanda and Burundi. He also worked for the UN in Geneva and other EU institutions in Brussels on Africa-related issues. Mr. Utterwulghe has traveled extensively in Central and Southern Africa. He was educated in Belgium, the Netherlands, and received his Master's degree from the London School of Economics.

OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution is published by the Tabula Rasa Institute, www.trinstitute.org.