June, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic: Economic Liberalization and Reconciliation in Rwanda’s Coffee Sector

Contact us
To speak with a scholar or learn more on this topic, visit our contact page.

In this law review article, Enterprise Africa! Lead Scholar Karol Boudreaux and Stanford law student Puja Ahluwalia examine mechanisms for reconciliation in post-genocide Rwanda. The article focuses on both formal legal institutions and informal means, particularly in the coffee sector.

In the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Paul Kagame's new government embarked upon a revolutionary restructuring of the economy. It lifted tight controls on the production, sale, and distribution of a variety of goods, liberalized many sectors of the economy, and gave people the freedom to trade openly.

Perhaps the biggest success story of Rwanda's liberalization is the revitalization of the country's coffee sector and the development of a new niche product-specialty coffee. A mainstay of the Rwandan economy since the 1930s when Belgian colonial officials encouraged coffee production, coffee remains a key export crop for Rwandans, generating millions of dollars of export revenue and garnering international attention for the high quality of the local beans.

This law review examines the reconciliation that may have occurred informally in the coffee sector, as a result of people working together to achieve shared economic goals. It also analyzes the formal legal institutions created to prosecute perpetrators of violence and to achieve reconciliation.

The positive outcomes from informal reconciliation in the coffee sector suggest that a focus on economic liberalization in post-conflict environments may pay large dividends in terms of both economic development and peace.

Citation (Chicago Style)

Boudreaux, Karol  and Puja Ahluwalia, "Cautiously Optimistic:  Economic Liberalization and Reconciliation in Rwanda’s Coffee Sector.” Denver Journal of International Law & Policy 37, no. 2 (Spring 2009): 147-200.