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Since the 2000 crisis in Kaduna, various initiatives had been launched to try to resolve inter-communal conflicts and defuse tensions. In the months preceding the November 2002 riots, some of these initiatives appeared to be gaining ground in forging agreement among communities to stop fighting. On August 22, 2002, the Kaduna Peace Declaration was signed by eleven Christian and eleven Muslim religious leaders from Kaduna State. In it, the leaders pledged to “work with all sections of the community for a lasting and just peace”; condemned all forms of violence and sought to “create an atmosphere where present and future generations will co-exist with mutual respect and trust in one another”; and announced the establishment of a “permanent joint committee to implement the recommendations of this declaration and encourage dialogue between the two faiths.”113 The agreements contained in the declaration failed to translate into reality as three months later, violence had erupted again.

Since November 2002, conflict resolution organizations, as well as religious leaders and local community members seeking to encourage peaceful dialogue, are once again faced with a difficult and contradictory situation: on one level, many Muslims and Christians wish to live together, as they have done for many decades, and members of both communities have been making significant efforts to repair the damage in their relations; on another level, tensions and segregation among the population appear to be increasing.

Human Rights Watch does not claim to offer expert solutions in the field of conflict resolution. However, we were struck by the efforts of some leaders and other members of local communities to prevent the violence in November 2002, including once the rioting had begun. In a few cases, these efforts may have prevented the violence from spreading even further, although in most cases, they were overwhelmed by the situation; in extreme cases, their efforts were negated by other leaders (both Christian and Muslim) who stated publicly that the only way to react to attacks was to respond in kind. In the aftermath of the riots, some religious leaders and members of Muslim and Christian communities revived their reconciliation and mediation efforts with renewed urgency. Human Rights Watch strongly encourages government authorities, especially at the local and state level, as well as foreign governments and international organizations active in the area of conflict resolution, to continue supporting these efforts with the longer-term goal of preventing further outbreaks of violence.

113 The Kaduna Peace Declaration of Religious Leaders, August 22, 2002. The declaration was also signed by Governor Makarfi.

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July 2003