Case Studies

 Africa: GhanaKenya | Nigeria | Rwanda | Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia | South Africa | Sudan/South Sudan/Darfur | Uganda | Zimbabwe  
Asia: East Asia | South Asia: Afghanistan | Central Asia 
Europe | Latin America | Middle East | North America | Other


Most of these case studies were written by graduate students (and a few faculty members) in peace and conflict programs.  Many of them were masters students at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame when they wrote them; others were Ph.D or Masters students at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution (now, in 2020, The Carter School) at George Mason, University. Others were from the Conflict Resolution Program or the International Studies Program at the University of Denver, and some were from other places.
Many of these authors are also citizens of the countries about which they wrote and/or peacebuilders who had worked in these countries.  For that reason, we have an abundance of articles on certain areas (Africa, particularly) and fewer on other areas.  That is because we didn't carefully recruit authors for each of these topics, rather, we took the good ones from those that were voluntarily submitted. As English was often a second, third, or fourth language for many of these authors, the writing is not always perfect native English.  But these have been edited when meaning wasn't clear, and they provide a fascinating and often first-hand glimce at an enormous number of conflicts around the world.


  • Building Sustainable Peace, a Nationwide Consensus Effort: Practical Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Ghana - This case study applies Lederach's notion of "The Meeting Place" and Ricigliano's SAT model of peacebuilding to examine the reconciliation and peacebuilding work in Ghana, concluding that, while much is left to be done, Ghana has made great progress in reconciliation after numerous coups destabilized the country.

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo: A Case Study of War and Failed Peace - An analysis of the myriad DRC peace agreements, focusing on their successes and why they all, ultimately, have failed to establish the long-sought peace.  While the complexity of the DRC makes peacemaking particularly difficult, if past successes are built upon, DRC could still achieve its long-sought peace.

  • A Case Study of Post-Civil War Peace Building Efforts in Liberia - This case study reviews the history of Liberia, the 1989-1997 civil war, and the multi-layered attempts to build peace and reconcile after that event.  Koziol observes that some aspects of the peacebuilding process were quite successful, while other aspects are still far from complete. Yet, her analysis gives readers much to learn both about peacebuilding in Liberia, and implications for such efforts more broadly.
  • Examining Gender Inequality in the Post-Conflict Peacebuilding Efforts of Sierra Leone - This case study illustrates how the steps taken in post-war Sierra Leone to improve issues of gender inequality as part of a larger global peacebuilding agenda, failed to address ingrained patriarchal practices in the social, political, and cultural traditions outlined in the nation’s Constitution. Despite the enactment of several reformative bills and policies on both national and international levels, true change could not be achieved as these new policies conflicted with the outdated provisions of Sierra Leone’s Constitution. In order to overcome these problems, the outdated Constitution must be revised, and the peacebuilding groups formed by women must be given the opportunity to partner on a grassroots level with both the Government of Sierra Leone and NGOs who listen to them first, leaving personal and donors’ agendas aside.
  • Capacity Building and Governance in Africa: Using Tools and Concepts from Strategic Peacebuilding to Address Long-Standing Challenges After several decades of unsuccessful development efforts in Africa, the international development community has reached consensus that good governance is a “critical prerequisite for sustaining development.” Good governance is in turn seen as contingent upon “environments of developed human and institutional capacities,” which has led to a proliferation of capacity building programs.
  • Challenges of Regional Peacebuilding: A Case of the Great Lakes Region For the past twenty years, the Great Lakes region [of Africa] has been engulfed in a series of interrelated conflicts. In response, peacebuilding activities have taken a regional approach. Regional peace conferences, with the support of UN Special Representatives, diplomatic missions (by the UN, European Union [EU], major international development organizations, and donor agencies), and UN peacekeeping missions have been widely carried out in the region. This approach, although successful in some instances, is problematic. This essay argues for a comprehensive peacebuilding approach that synthesizes both peacebuilding policies and grass roots initiatives.
  • Child Trafficking in Benin, West Africa This article focuses on the problem of child trafficking as it is practiced in Benin and western Africa more broadly. Although it is a problem in many parts of the world, it has reached epidemic proportions in Benin and the surrounding African countries.
  • The Role of Civil Society in International Law: The Relationship Between Civil Society Organizations and the International Criminal Court in the Central African Republic This article looks at civil society's role in the activities of the International Criminal Court in the Central African Republic. Unlike the hostility of civil society in other African countries, the response in the CAR was more positive. This article examines why this might be so, and what can be done to enhance the work of civil society and the ICC throughout Africa and the wider world towards both justice and peace.
  • Global Justice! The 2010 ICC Review Conference and the Future of International Justice in Africa This article describes the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to date and looks at the issues that will need to be considered at the May 2010 ICC review conference in Kampala Uganda if the ICC is going to become a successful provider of real justice for all, not just for some. This is co-listed as a case study and a personal reflection, as it has considerable factual material on the ICC, as well as the author's personal reflections on what needs to be done to make it better.
  • Kenya

  • Nigeria

  • Rwanda

    • Post-Genocide Rwanda: A Unique Case of Political and Psycho-Social Peacebuilding An examination of the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide looking at the post-genocide peacebuilding  and the resulting political and psychosocial changes.
    • Comparison of Dialogue Practices -- An examination of dialogue practices in Rwanda and Uganda, in the wake of their mass violence, introducing the novel strategy of Photovoice.
    • The Rwandan Genocide This is the first of a series of articles that Kimberly Fornace wrote when she was taking a Peace and Conflict Studies class based on Beyond Intractability. Living in Rwanda at the time, and being extremely perceptive, her papers were of such high quality we asked her if we could publish them here. This is the first overview of the conflict parties and issues. More papers on other aspects of the conflict and long-term prospects are forthcoming as soon as we can get them uploaded.
    • Rwanda's Hidden Divisions: From the Ethnicity of Habyarimana to the Politics of Kagame - Written in 2011, this article argues that seventeen years after the genocide, with a charismatic leader and impressive economic gains, the assumption that the country is without conflict is gravely misleading. Championed by Western nations, the false image of Rwanda as a beacon of freedom may ultimately do more harm than good, as many aspects of the current situation are "strikingly similar to that of "pre-genocide times." 
  • Horn of Africa: Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia

  • South Africa

  • Sudan/South Sudan/Darfur

    • Negotiating Peace for Darfur: An Overview of Failed Processes This essay evaluates the various attempts at peacemaking in Darfur, examining why they have failed and what will need to change if peace is to be achieved.
    • Darfur: The Crisis Continues Darfur has sunk from the news, but not from its misery. While less violent than it had been, peace has not yet been achieved in Darfur. This Dec. 2012 article by Yousif, Brosche, and Rothbart explains why.
    • Sudan and South Sudan: Post-Separation Challenges Authors Yousif and Rothbart analyze the current (Dec. 2012) relationship between the two countries. They survey the conflict over borders, the politics of oil, and the economic trade war that emerged following South Sudanese independence. Clearly, much work lies ahead before either country is stable and peaceful.
    • The First National South Sudan Education Curriculum - Even while it is still at war, South Sudan is trying to foster reconciliation though education as evidenced by its first national education curriculum.  Read here about how this is planned to work...and how it has worked so far.
    • The Darfur Peace Process: Understanding the Obstacles to Success This article examines the history of efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the violent conflict in the Darfur region of the Sudan. The author points out ways in which attempts at peacemaking have been lacking, and makes suggestions for future endeavors.
    • The Darfur Region of the Sudan The horror in Darfur was front-page news for months, yet the international community was unable (or unwilling) to stop the violence. Learn why the conflict in Darfur is so intractable.
    • Peace Agreement is the Same Game for War and its Escalation in Sudan - This article analyzes the Government of Sudan’s strategy of entering peace agreements with armed rebel groups in order to maintain political power, while at the same time orchestrating the continuance of conflict. 
    • Peace Politics in Sudan - This paper uses John Paul Lederach's notion of multiple lenses to examine the Darfur conflict from a variety of perspectives. 
    • Religious Actors in Sudan - This article examines post-referendum negotiations and peacebuilding efforts with respect to the role of religious actors. While the dominant liberal peace paradigm is skeptical about the relevance of religion in political affairs, this author argues that religious actors often traverse the division between the grassroots and elite political actors. Religious actors also live with ordinary people and have often provided them with services in the absence of government structures. For that reason, the author argues, they should have a major role in post-conflict peacebuilding efforts. 
    • The Case of Disarmament in South Sudan - This essay addresses the challenges of post–war disarmament looking specifically at programs initiated by the government of the Republic of South Sudan to disarm civilians, which, due to a variety of factors described in the essay, have not been successful.
  • Uganda

  • Zimbabwe

    • The Power and Risks of Conversation in Zimbabwe This case study describes one of the authors' peacebuilding work in Zimbabwe, where he found that facilitating conversations was a good way to stimulate conflict transformation. The essay also includes a broader examination of the power of conversation as a peacebuilding tool.
    • Addressing Past Injustices in a Wounded Zimbabwe: Gukurahundi - Gukurahundi was the massacre of about 20,000 people in Zimbabwe, perpetrated by government forces against "dissidents" that took place in the 1980s.  The author of this case study contends that reconciliation has not yet occurred.  To attain such, he argues, peacebuilding based on truth-telling and acknowledgement must occur.



Latin America

  • Exploring the Role of Collective Memory for Reconciliation:  A Comparative Case of Guatemala and Cambodia This paper explores how collective memory (the memories of a group generated through shared experience and values) can be used post-trauma for healing and reconciliation.
  • Creating a Sacred Space: Cuban Reconciliation and the Catholic Church This essay examines the role of the Roman Catholic Church in fostering reconciliation between Cuban refugees now living in the U.S. and Cuban citizens still living in Cuba. Though hostilities between these two groups used to be strong, the church is making considerable progress in bringing families and larger communities together.
  • Cultural Anesthesia in Colombia This short case study of the violence in Colombia asks why the population hasn't risen up against the continued violence.
  • Deeply Divided Brazil - This case study examines the wealth and income inequality in Brazil, and the conflicts that have resulted from that.  It then continues to look at approaches for transforming these conflicts and the underlying inequality.
  • Guatemala: Guerrillas, Genocide, and Peace - This case study examines the civil war in Guatemala and the aftermath, recommending further steps that might be taken to acheive a sustainable peace.
  • Peacebuilding from the Grassroots: Equity Conciliation and Conflict Transformation in Colombia Conflict resolution efforts that attempt to work in cooperation with -- rather than in opposition to or in ignorance of -- the local culture in which a conflict is occurring are much more likely to succeed. Colombian culture already contains several powerful conflict resolution mechanisms, which may hold great potential for effecting lasting change. This case study focuses particularly on a mechanism called equity conciliation.
  • The Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission The Chilean truth commission held after Pinochet lost power was not as successful as many had hoped, yet it did have significant impacts at both the individual and national level. This case study examines what the truth commission did, and what the short- and longer-term impacts were for individuals and for Chile as a whole.
  • No Peace Dividend for Guatemala and the Irony of this Failure - This essay examines the history of peace negotiations in Guatemala and then examines the failure to carry out their promise.

Middle East

  • Reconciliation in the Aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide - Reconciliation in the case of Yezidis is a process of transformation that involves dealing with the preconditions of protracted social conflicts through the intersection of truth, justice, peace and mercy at the communal, intercommunal and state level.
  • East Versus West: Reconciliation in Post-War Jerusalem - This case study, written by a Palestinian now living in the U.S., argues that the two-state solution is "dead," and the only way to reconcile this long-lasting conflict is to realize that citizens of both cultures will need to learn to live together in harmony in a unified state.
  • Moving Beyond: Interreligious Dialogue in Lebanon This article describes interreligious dialogue in Lebanon which, the author finds, provides a key to peacebuilding by creating space for people to be heard and accepted by "the other." The author describes her own dialogue experiences, explaining both its effects on her, and the wider effect of dialogue on the society as a whole.
  • The Bedouins in Israel's Negev Desert: Ubiquitous yet Invisible to the Dominant Society The Bedouins of the Negev region of Israel exist on the margins of Israeli society, culture, and law. The authors discuss the challenges facing this disenfranchised population. This article is co-listed as a personal reflection and a case study.
  • How a Document Determines Which Palestinian You Are In a very personal essay, the author explains the day-to-day hardships faced by all Palestinians and explains why she believes a one-state solution is the only possible answer for the Palestinians' problem.
  • Kurds in Turkey: Building Reconciliation and Local Administrations This paper recounts the history of the conflict between the Turkish government and the Kurdish community living in Turkey, and proposes specific strategies that could be taken by both groups in order to resolve it.
  • My Neighbor Is A Terrorist: Peacebuilding, Drones, and America's Presence in Yemen In this cross between a case study and a personal reflection, Allyson Mitchell reflects on the impact of US drone attacks in Yemen. Looking at the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki in particular, and other attacks that have involved civilian casualties, Mitchell concludes that peacebuilding in Yemen cannot succeed if US drone strikes continue.
  • The Role of Iraqi Refugees and Expatriates in Peacebuilding through Governance This article describes the plight of Iraqi refugees who have not been able to return home to Iraq, yet have not been able to make successful lives for themselves in their host countries. The author considers what needs to happen to allow the refugees successful return to Iraq.

North America

Other ​​

  • Globalization  This article introduces the conflict dynamics behind globalization with a focus on South Korea and the WTO.
  • Peacebuilding and the War on Terror: The U.S. Drone Program This article argues that "in its current state, the U.S. drone policy does little to build peace and may in fact contribute to recruitment. As a result, the U.S. public cannot be complacent about allowing drone strikes to continue unabated. The Obama administration should curb its targeted killings and overhaul the drone program. Even beyond simply fixing the drone program, the United States must also review its long-term strategy in the War on Terror."
  • Strategic Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation: The Catholic Contribution to Peace This essay tempers the popular idea that religion engenders violent conflict, by citing many examples in which religion (specifically the Roman Catholic Church and related entities) has worked to promote and sustain peace.
  • The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme - Kimberley Process is a a multi-stakeholder collaborative effort between governments, civil society, and the diamond industry, introduced in 2003, and designed to regulate the rough diamond trade in order to eradicate conflict diamonds. This article reviews the problem of "conflict" or "blood diamonds," describes how the Kimberly Process came to be, and examines lessons learned so far (the paper was written in 2011).
  • The Role of International Publicity Some NGOs try to utilize the threat of negative international publicity to prevent war crimes and other violations of human rights. This essay examines the methods of three NGOs who use this approach: Christian Peacemaker Teams, Peace Brigades International, and Witness for Peace. It examines their "theories of change" and the extent to which those theories lead to effective practice.
  • We’ve Looked But Not Seen: War on Queers and LGBTIcide - This paper explores whether LGBTI individuals and groups are recognized as a distinct minority group and whether violence against LGBTI groups and individuals is accounted for in several indices that measure peacefulness. The objective of this paper is to help peacebuilders, practitioners, academics, and many others understand the gaps in these indices, and to highlight the way in which this silence reinforces violence against LGBTI individuals and groups. 
  • Reconciliation and Conflict Transformation The conventional wisdom is that reconciliation can only begin once a peace agreement has ended the conflict (at least temporarily). However, if one adopts the perspective of conflict transformation, rather than conflict resolution, then reconciliation becomes a crucial part and parcel of conflict transformation. Along that line of thinking, this essay aims to examine how reconciliation can fit into the framework of conflict transformation.
  • Catholic Strategic Peacebuilding: The Unique Role of the Laity This article examines the Catholic Church's involvement in peacebuilding and how it must engage its strongest asset, the laity, more intentionally in order to influence the world's culture towards peace.

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