CRC established many more than the 12 Reconciliation Commissions planned, since they assumed the role of the envisaged Task Forces. The Reconciliation Commissions are composed of varying numbers of people, generally 15-20 at the outset, with a total membership of 602 of which 326 were women. (It should be noted that at the evaluation workshops, more male than female commission members attended.) Their key functions are to:
- Promote peaceful cohabitation through awareness-raising and sensitisation;
- Identify and work to diffuse possible areas of friction;
- Provide a cost-free mechanism for reconciling parties in dispute and reaching agreement;
- Citizen education on human rights and civic duties – the need to respect human dignity;
- Refer and advocate to formal authorities on behalf of victims of injustice. Of the 31 Reconciliation Commissions created, three are no longer effectively functioning and the others have varying levels of activity.
The members gave a clear understanding of their role as an accessible, cost-free mechanism for solving civil disputes without the parties involved risking any fines or penalties. The clear distinction made with the Baraza – traditional authority mechanism at community level – is that the Baraza can impose fines and penalties, and can refer cases to the police/criminal justice system. The justice system is dysfunctional and not always impartial: it can involve costs beyond the means of community members, especially returnees and ex-combatants.
In Zone B, the Soleniama axis, the Reconciliation Commissions analysed the types of conflicts they encountered and said that the inter-ethnic conflicts and those relating to armed robberies (including involvement of IDPs and ex-combatants) were on the decrease. However, land related conflicts are still frequent and of most concern, and centre either on boundaries or the traditional herder/cultivator conflicts that arise from crop damage caused by wandering animals. Land issues were also perceived to underlie new conflicts emerging between communities and the Church; they may also contribute to conflicts now emerging in relation to divorce attempts.
The Reconciliation Commissions appreciated the training they were given, especially that in land law, and felt they were responding to a real community need; however they also suggested that they would have been more effective had they received:
- Some funds for communications and transport, so they could get to the sites of conflict promptly;
- Some form of identity badge or branding (item of equipment or clothes) to show they are genuine and to distinguish them from others falsely claiming to be peace-builders;
- Funds for celebrating reconciliations – this is the cultural norm;
- More regular CRC follow-up activities.