Meet Bertrand, CCAO Peace and Conflict Resolution Intern

By Bertrand Mpigabahizi, CCAO Peace and Conflict Resolution intern
January 24, 2013

Peace and conflict resolution is an increasingly integral topic within the broader notion of international affairs. The aforementioned concept seeks to analyze and ultimately resolve violent behaviors and events within the international community and address the societal dynamics at the origin of violent conflicts. The ultimate goal of students studying and professionals engaged in peace and conflict resolution studies/activities is to better understand and subsequently implement a process that would eventually lead to a more ideal society and desirable human condition.

Among the seven themes highlighted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in illustrating the Church’s social tradition, the theme of life and dignity of the human person best compliments the fundamental principles of peace and conflict resolution. Within international relations, war is unanimously considered to be the least desirable outcome in a conflict of interest between states and/or other political entities. In support of this aforementioned position, the Catholic Church encourages states to avoid wars; not on the basis of political or economic concerns, but on the basis of protecting the lives and livelihoods of innocent men, women and children.

The topic of peace and conflict resolution is a particularly sensitive topic for me, but it is a conversation I want to have with the CCAO community and other interested parties. I was born in Rwanda in 1992 to a large Tutsi family in the southern province of Butare, where I happily spent my first two years of my life. However, my happy upbringing was suddenly cut short in 1994 when approximately 800,000 members of my people were killed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. According to recent estimates, 70-80% of Rwanda’s Tutsi population was murdered in 1994, including 220,000 Tutsis in Butare, my home province; during the conflict I lost both of my maternal grandparents, two maternal aunts and a paternal uncle, and countless other relatives and friends. A discussion on peace and conflict resolution is a conversation the world must have in order to stop violent conflicts like the 1994 Rwandan Genocide from happening in the future, for the benefit of our own lives and the lives of our children and future generations.

In conclusion, the topic of peace and conflict resolution deeply resonates with the Catholic social tradition of emphasizing the importance of the human life beyond all other material items and I look forward to focusing on this issue during my CCAO internship.