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This series takes as its focus the complex and unusual dynamics of violence in Central Africa. Although sometimes unfairly written off as a region of intractable conflict, kleptocratic big men, and hopelessly poor levels of governance, many regional experts now argue that Central Africa is undergoing a period of profound transition. Are the ‘Illiberal Statebuilders’ of Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni heralds of a new period of robust and durable state formation? Or merely the newest generation of patrimonial caretakers for states in terminal decline? Is the defeat of the M23 mutiny in Eastern Congo the last rebellion, or just the latest? And how has their defeat reshaped the social and political map of the region? We wish to give space here to the emerging debates about the connections between violence and security, the economy, politics, conflict-resolution, gender dynamics, and local governance.

The year 2002 marked the initiation of discussions concerning the suitability of invoking Article 1C(5) of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees to deal with the protracted Rwandan refugee caseload. This Article permits a declaration by countries and UNHCR that ‘the circumstances in connexion with which he [the refugee] has been recognised as a refugee have ceased to exist’, and therefore ‘he can no longer…continue to refuse to avail himself of the protection of the country of his nationality.’ In short, the ‘ceased circumstances’ Cessation Clause constitutes an international validation of positive change in post-conflict governance and the meaningful re-establishment of the citizen-state bond, as well as providing a legal normative framework for the repatriation of former refugees. It is easy to see why the GoR so earnestly pushed for the invocation of the Cessation Clause throughout the Noughties. Internal and external legitimacy was waning under the weight of mounting evidence that domestic politics was partisan and exclusionary at best, authoritarian and murderous at worst. The regime wanted to repatriate potential opponents back to within the state’s jurisdiction. Achieving international consensus over the suitability of refugees returning to Rwanda was thus a potential way to refute accusations concerning human rights abuses within the country, and to exercise more control over possible critics. Controversially, the High Commissioner for Refugees announced support for the cancellation of status for all Rwandan refugees by the end of 2011. After seven years of lobbying and contestation, this therefore constituted a major victory for the RPF.

This blog takes as its focus the complex and unusual dynamics of violence in Central Africa. Although sometimes unfairly written off as a region of intractable conflict, kleptocratic big men, and hopelessly poor levels of governance, many regional experts now argue that Central Africa is undergoing a period of profound transition. Are the ‘Illiberal Statebuilders’ of Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni heralds of a new period of robust and durable state formation? Or merely the newest generation of patrimonial caretakers for states in terminal decline? Is the defeat of the M23 mutiny in Eastern Congo the last rebellion, or just …