“We Have to Look for Peace in Our Country.” An empirical study of the Peace and Reconciliation program run by the Protestant Church Network in the Democratic Republic of Congo
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The objective of this thesis was to discover more about how local agents, in this case the local churches, and foreign agents, such as mission organizations and other non-governmental organizations can contribute to creating sustainable peace through non-violent means and be important contributors in the process of holistic peacebuilding. The research question for this study is: How does the protestant church network, the Église du Christ au Congo, consider the impact of the Peace and Reconciliation program, in their quest for sustainable peace in the Kivu region in the Democratic Republic of Congo? The Peace and Reconciliation Program is a program that works towards the repatriation of Rwandan refugees and combatants living in the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). If these two groups are repatriated, it will most likely result in a significant improvement to the current situation in the volatile Kivu region. The living conditions of the local population could be expected to become more stable and secure. The protestant church network, the Église du Christ au Congo (ECC), operates the Peace and Reconciliation program, making use of local churches found all over the countryside. The study finds that through the use of existing local structures, such as the church network, there is great possibility to do peacebuilding in an influential way. Through this program, the ECC is making a contribution in reconciliation work, both in practical ways and also through its position of being a non-violent approach towards the issue of Rwandan combatants and refugees in the Kivu provinces of the DRC. The study contributes to existing theory about peacebuilding and reconciliation, and how civil society can contribute in such work. The study shows that close relations between leaders of the civil society and leaders at the grassroots level are beneficial. In the study it is also revealed that Christian spirituality can be a motivating factor and influence in peacebuilding. The study also contributes to the theory of non-violent methods for transformation of violent cultures into cultures of peace. Finally, the study contributes to the present research on the capacity of churches in the Great Lakes Region in peacebuilding.