Centre for Human Rights & Governance’s aim is to protect communities in violent conflicts through unarmed strategies, build peace side by side with local communities, and advocate for the wider adoption of these approaches to safeguard human lives and dignity. It envisions a culture of peace in which conflicts within and between communities are managed through nonviolent means. We are guided by principles of nonviolence, non-partisanship, primacy of local actors, and civilian-to-civilian action.
CHRG brings together parties to a conflict those who have acted, those directly impacted and the wider community within an intentional systemic context, to dialogue as equals. Participants invite each other and attend voluntarily. The dialogue process used is shared openly with all participants, and guided by a community member. The process ends when actions have been found that bring mutual benefit.
Building Inclusive Governance
Peace requires support from political and economic structures in order to be sustainable. Throughout our peacebuilding programs, we support communities affected by conflict to shape decision-making and policy processes. We engage a wide range of civil society and governmental actors to inform policies and advocate for changes that promote more inclusive, accessible, and transparent governance.
The social, ethnic, and political divides that foment violent conflict are often mirrored in institutions: in how resources are allocated, how services are delivered, and which voices are (and are not) represented. For peace to succeed, it is critical to address the underlying injustices that fuel conflict. To that end, we build the collective advocacy skills of community-based peacebuilders and engage political representatives, decision-makers, and policymakers in developing reforms that support lasting peace.
Dialogues across deep divides
The skillful use of facilitated, structured dialogue allows people on either side of conflict to discover their shared hopes and goals, and nurture authentic partnerships across divides to develop solutions. The practice of dialogue is central to nearly all Center programs.
Dialogue can have a deeply transformative impact on participants who have become alienated from each other by past intergroup violence, or who have been subjected to dehumanizing stereotypes and misperceptions. The mutual understanding and commitment among dialogue participants emerges as a foundation upon which broader outreach, advocacy, and community-building initiatives can be built.
Preventing Violent Extremism
Violent extremist ideologies can arise within any religious or cultural identity group. In a wide variety of contexts, we have seen that responses to extremism which rely primarily on military force often backfire and add fuel to the threat. We therefore focus on non-military approaches that reduce community vulnerability to violent extremism and strengthen resilience against recruitment. These are proven tactics for slowing the spread of violent extremism that carry little risk of causing new harm.
We work with institutions to develop strategies that support whole societies to prevent the spread of violent extremist movements by engaging religious and traditional leaders, civil society networks, women, youth, and more. Because violent conflict creates fertile ground for extremist organizations to grow, we also incorporate prevention throughout our programs at the community level.
Healing and Reconciliation
Where societies in DRC have been torn apart by violence, people can experience deep emotional pain. Our programs create space to discuss underlying grievances constructively, repair relationships between conflict-affected groups, and ultimately interrupt continued cycles of revenge.
Through structured dialogue, shared community projects, joint problem-solving, and trauma healing programs where appropriate, we focus on rebuilding a sense of trust and safety—and a shared vision of a more peaceful future. We then collaborate to share participants’ experiences of commonality and healing with a broader public, as a counterweight to narratives that dehumanize or target others.
Prevention of Mass Atrocities
Widespread and systematic violence against civilians, mass atrocities is among priorities for the CHRG because of the devastating human, social, political and economic harm that results when entire populations or minority communities are targeted. The program focuses attention understudied cases and issues within mass atrocities. The program argues that the dominantly normative approach to the study of and engagement on issues related to atrocity prevention and response has skewed research questions and policy recommendations.